The Saudi banking system has become a cornerstone for the industry in the region but the Kingdom needs to focus more on global expansion, according to an industry expert.
The country has undergone a process of modernization at a very rapid pace, which “is a good thing,” George Kanaan, the CEO of the London-based Arab Bankers Association, told Arab News, and having a coherent vision to work within is very important.
“You really cannot run a country, or create progress in a country, without having a vision as to where you want to see that country be, and the need for reforms is great,” he said.
Kanaan, a Harvard graduate who has worked in New York, Athens, Saudi Arabia and Chicago, said the Kingdom’s banking system is continually growing in sophistication and becoming more reliant on local talent, but there is still a lot of potential for growth, particularly in the international arena.
“The Saudi banking system, given what Saudi Arabia is all about, needs to become more globalized,” he said. “It could become the dominant banking system in the Middle East, generally, given its resources and its expertise right now, but it should go beyond the Middle East.”
The Kingdom should be looking expand its banking presence in Africa, Europe, the US and Asia, “where the growth in the future seems to be,” Kanaan said.