Initiatives and Projects
The Union of Arab banks has executed over the past years a number of technical and strategic projects which play a key role in supporting the joint Arab financial and banking work. These projects and initiatives constitute references and milestones in the Arab financial and banking industry and are of strategic importance for its development and keeping pace with changes and developments in the modern banking industry.
The Arab Legal Database related to the Banking Profession
This project was launched by the Union of Arab Banks, in association with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in 2003. This database exists on the website of the Union of Arab Banks and is available to the Arab banking, financial, legal, and financial communities and the public for neither financial return nor any other liabilities. The UAB is currently in the process of translating this database into the English language to make it accessible on the global level, thus enhancing the global knowledge of the Arab Financial Arena and enhancing foreign direct investment. The database is updated on a yearly basis, which enables it to offer Arab and foreign economic, financial, banking, and legal institutions and organizations with information constantly up to date, related to all laws, legislations, rules, and regulations governing the financial and banking sector in all Arab countries.
Project for the Development of Good Governance of Arab banks
Five years ago, the Union of Arab banks approved an initiative to conduct a survey of the reality of governance in the Arab banking sector and the requirements for the commitment of Arab Banks to the international standards generally accepted in this field.The Union is implementing this project in cooperation with Arab central banks and monetary institutions and the “Center for International Private Enterprise” which is affiliated to US Chamber of Commerce.The UAB has completed a number of steps towards developing practical recommendations for the development of banking governance at all levels in the Arab world. Upon the decision of the General Assembly, the UAB has appointed a group of Arab experts with the possibility of collaborating with international experts to develop recommendations and suggestions that will become the basis for general rules for the Arab banks, which will also be used as guidelines towards the improvement and development of good governance policies and practices. Work in this domain should be constant, and the UAB will serve as the Secretariat General of the Working Group, in view of the experience, relationships, and knowledge available to the UAB in this domain. As a result, and in order to encourage Arab banks to develop and implement governance policies, the UAB has organized in collaboration with the “Hawkama” institute in the United Arab Emirates, an annual prize for the leading Arab bank in terms of governance.
Cooperation initiative with the World Bank for the financing of small and medium enterprises
The Union of Arab Banks also conducted a joint study with the World Bank to assess the availability of funding for small and medium enterprises in the Middle East and North Africa. This study is a part of a larger study conducted by the World Bank on the financial systems in the Middle East and North Africa and supported by all the governments in the region. This study comes within the framework of the Union’s concern for the development of small and medium enterprises in the Arab world.
Project to facilitate compliance with Basel II and III
In 2004, the UAB started and is still working on a project that is vital and important for the Arab Banking and Financial sector, which mainly revolves around the introduction of the culture of Basel II and III on both theoretical and practical levels to the Arab banks. In this context, the UAB has initiated the project of Arabization of Basel 2 documents, and all documents related to it, directly and indirectly, to form a technical and comprehensive encyclopedia: “The Basel II encyclopedia” which includes five books. The first book deals with the Basel II accord, the second deals with the management of banking risks, the third book is of great importance for the practical application of Basel II, the fourth handle internal and external banking supervision, while the fifth and last book tackles internal and external credit ratings. The UAB has also translated into Arabic all Basel III requirements in a comprehensive book published during the last quarter of 2010, in addition to an addendum concerning Basel III requirements in 2011. In addition and in order to help ensure the proper application of Basel II and III by the Arab Banks, the UAB has organized for several years, seminars and technical workshops in Arab countries, and also specialized internal training programs for Arab banks, in order to help them adhere properly and effectively to Basel II and Basel III requirements.
Center for Sound banking practices
In 2006 The Union of Arab banks has established “The Arab Center for Sound Banking Practices” with the aim of transferring most appropriate international banking and financial practices to the Arab banking sector, and contributing in ensuring an active integration of the Arab financial and banking sector in the international banking industry, thus increasing the confidence of the international community in Arab banks, and also developing the banking standards and rules in the Arab world according to the requirements of the international banking industry.
Arab Banks and Financial Institutions Directory
In 2004, the UAB began to issue the “Arab Banks and Financial Institutions Directory”. This directory includes comprehensive and accurate information cards for Arab banks and financial institutions. Each bank’s card include its fields of work, its services and products, its date of its establishment, its capital, its number of domestic and foreign branches, the names of the board of directors and senior executive management, its shareholders, its subsidiaries and affiliate companies, its financial indicators for the previous five years and its various credit rankings and others, added to any other relevant information. The directory also includes information cards for central banks and Arab monetary agencies and banking associations and federations of Arab Banks. This guide is issued in both Arabic and English in a single unified copy.
Directory of Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions
The UAB issued its new product “The Directory of Islamic banks and financial institutions”. This directory is published annually as one of the most important products of the UAB It provides a comprehensive and detailed information on all Arab Islamic banking institutions, through an individual card for each bank, showing its address, its type of activity, and most important offered services and products, the members of its board of directors and senior management, in addition to its Shari’aa Supervisory Board and its most important shareholders. The directory also includes the available financial indicators for the past five years and the different credit ratings, its number of employees and number of domestic and foreign branches.
During the last past few years, the UAB began to implement a new initiative oriented towards raising awareness in the banking sector with reference to the importance of taking into account the environment when they sanction investments and facilities. This consideration serves the interest of both the banks and the community in which they operate. The UAB encouraged the Arab banking sector to provide funding for projects and economic institutions that pay special attention and adhere to international environmental standards. The UAB also considers this issue as an important and vital for the banks themselves and their customers, since securing a healthy environment is now considered as an essential component of the process of economic and social development. In this context, the UAB has launched during the past few years a series of activities, including participation in the meetings of the Arab League and of economic and social organizations, and ministries of environment in the Arab countries.