Sheikha Al-Bahar, Deputy CEO of the National Bank of Kuwait Group, reported positive growth trends for the bank in the past year. Emphasizing the successful implementation of their strategic agenda, she highlighted that the main sources of profitability were centered on core banking activities, leading to margin expansion and increased business in fees and commissions.
In an interview with Bloomberg International Channel, Al-Bahar expressed optimism about the political situation in Kuwait. She noted that the formation of the new government, including technocrats and individuals with a reform agenda, is expected to stimulate the business environment. The ongoing communication between the government and Parliament is seen as essential for building confidence and fostering a positive legislative session.
Looking ahead to 2024, Al-Bahar expressed optimism and positivity. With a more stable political environment, she anticipates a recovery in project implementation, leading to improved non-oil GDP growth and increased credit demand. The project market has already shown momentum, and the bank expects this trend to continue with projects worth 6.2 billion dinars in the pipeline.
Highlighting Saudi Arabia as a top priority, Al-Bahar emphasized the bank’s active engagement at all levels in the Saudi market. The recently launched global wealth management platform is expected to contribute to the growth of assets under management in the Kingdom.
Discussing potential challenges in 2024, Al-Bahar mentioned the expected change in the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. While acknowledging its potential impact on banks, she emphasized the bank’s focus on diversification and increased reliance on fees and commissions to mitigate the effects of interest rate movements on revenues.
Al-Bahar anticipates continued growth in international operations and wealth management. Digital investments will remain a focus, integrating digital services across various business sectors and markets. Regarding allocations in 2023, she clarified that they were largely precautionary, reflecting a historically conservative approach to credit risk management.
Addressing the Egyptian market, Al-Bahar emphasized its strategic importance, viewing it as one of the group’s key markets. The bank remains committed to its presence in Egypt, considering it a long-term investment. Despite geopolitical tensions, the bank’s operations in Egypt continue to be highly profitable, and there is optimism about future prospects once confidence in the economy and currency is restored.