Al-Misnad, who joined QNB in 1985, was appointed chief executive of the bank in mid 2001. ‘We are going to unblock the potential of this bank,’ he said. ‘We have a lot of potential that has not been tapped. We want to be among the top five banks in the GCC.’

QNB, which accounted for half the total assets of the Qatari banking system at the end of 2001, reported a 7.4 per cent rise in net income to QR 527.3 million ($145 million) in that year. Trends in the first half of 2002 showed the bank was on track for a further rise in profit in the year. ‘We are expecting consistent growth in 2002 and to report an increase exceeding last year’s interim profit increase for the first six months,’ Al-Misnad said. ‘We will produce excellent results again this year as a whole.’

In a restructuring programme, the bank has been organised into five business areas: risk management and strategic planning; corporate and capital markets; retail and private banking; operations and IT; and administration and finance. Al-Misnad said QNB plans to appoint general managers for each of these areas who will report to him. ‘Some will be appointed from within the bank and some from outside,’ Al-Misnad said.

Al-Misnad said that QNB is planning to develop regional activities. ‘We have started doing regional business, including with Iran and Saudi Arabia,’ he said. ‘The internal market here in Doha is small so we must look outside.’ Recent developments include the decision to invest in the Iran Eurobond brought to the market earlier in July (MEED 12:7:02).

Areas being expanded include project and corporate finance, investment banking and retail banking. The bank now has 32 branches in Qatar with one more due to be opened soon. QNB is phasing in a new electronic system in a project managed by Midas Capiti. The treasury module is due to be operational by the end of July. Preliminary work has started on the site of the bank’s planned new head office close to the Doha Sheraton.

Al-Misnad said economic trends in Qatar were highly encouraging. ‘It’s a great story,’ he said. ‘GDP [gross domestic product] has doubled over the past five years and it is forecast to double again in the next five years. These forecasts are being reflected by what we see on the ground. The top economic management team here is directing the economy in a positive and constructive way.’

‘This is a very exciting environment in which to be the leading bank in Qatar,’ Al-Misnad said. ‘We have a very important role to play in all these developments. We are expanding our business coverage in Qatar into areas where we were not active before. We want to make sure we stay at the top always.’