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30 years in the Middle East | Sector spotlight: Insurance with Zurich

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Peter, thank you very much for coming in. You have been in the region for about 10 years now. Two difference stints. And what we're looking at today is really your personal recollection of what it was like then and how you find it now. So, when I came in 2009, it was a very exciting time here in the region. The oil price was well above what it currently is at roughly US$60 a barrel and the investment sentiment was very bullish. In turn, we saw a lot of mega structures being brought up, the likes of Burj Khalifa and nuclear power plants outside Abu Dhabi. So as reinsurers at the time, we had a great time in working with our clients. If I compare that period with today, obviously the oil price is now lower but at the same time there is a strong desire to move away from oil dependency. And that also calls for interesting opportunities, especially in the reinsurance place. Peter, back in 2009 what did the regulatory landscape look like and what did some of the products you offered then look like as compared to how they develop now? If I go back to 2009, if I look at the rulebook at that point in time, I can just conclude that it was a much thinner version than what we come across today. And what I mean is that the environment, it is a much more sophisticated approach now and much more advanced. So I think we made great progress and we see very active regulators in countries like Saudi Arabia with SAMA or even here in the DIFC under DFSA. And are there any new risks which are needed to be covered now which perhaps wouldn't have been on the landscape 10 years ago? Absolutely. Emerging risks get a lot of attention today and a good example are the cyber exposures, very much driven by... We saw an outbreak in 2012 with the Aramco losses and that, I think, created a sense of urgency in the market. And it's also being encouraged by the regulator, so yes there is an increasing demand also for these kind of products. So where Zurich is right now, what are you looking forward to in the region and where do you see the main opportunities for you being here? The GCC remains a very important market for us, all the GCC countries. We have more than almost 70% of our assets are in the UAE and in neighbouring countries like Saudi Arabia. But we also see a lot of significant investments in North Africa and that's why in terms of geographical diversification, if you wish, we look more actively at these countries, say Africa in general but also some select opportunities in India and Pakistan. And Dubai still remains a key hub for that for you? Absolutely. I think we have worked hard to put in place a very lean and agile outfit and I think the way the business is set up here in the DIFC is definitely that and we look to build and develop this hub even further.

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Posted by: clydecomarketing on Nov 26, 2019

The Middle East has a phenomenal story, going through exceptional transformation and unprecedented growth over the past three decades. As Clyde & Co celebrates its 30 years in the Middle East, we've asked our clients to share their reflections on how things have changed in their respective industries during that period. In this video, Peter Englund at Zurich shares his thoughts on the development of the Insurance sector, the rise of emerging risks and the importance of geographical diversification.
More on Clyde & Co's 30 years in the Middle East: https://www.clydeco.com/firm/news/view/clyde-co-celebrates-30-years-in-the-middle-east

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