Yemen banking

11 March 2013

Six individuals leading the development of Yemen’s financial sector: Mohammed Awad bin Hammam, Ibrahim al-Nahari, Ahmed Thabet al-Absi,Abdul-Ghabar Hayel Saeed, Youssef Abdo al-Kuraimi and Mohammed Saleh al-Lai

Mohammed Awad bin Hammam

Position: Governor, Central Bank of Yemen

Biography: Mohammed Awad bin Hammam was appointed governor of the Central Bank of Yemen in 2010, replacing Ahmed Abdul Rahman al-Samawi, who had held the post for the previous 13 years. Prior to taking up his current role, Bin Hammam worked as governor of the central bank in his native governorate, Hadramawt. As the new governor, he was almost instantly faced with a crisis as the Yemeni uprising of 2011 and attacks on a key oil export pipeline sent the economy, and the value of the riyal, into freefall. Bin Hammam is widely credited with helping stabilise the currency and keeping the domestic banking system from collapsing during 2011. In 2012, he was key to unlocking a $93m loan from the Washington-headquartered IMF and a $1bn soft loan from Saudi Arabia to help further stabilise the riyal.

Contact Tel: (+967) 1 274 318

Ibrahim al-Nahari

Position: Sub-governor for foreign banking, Central Bank of Yemen

Biography: A veteran of both the Central Bank of Yemen and the Finance Ministry, Ibrahim al-Nahari has been central bank sub-governor for foreign banking since 2008. Along with central bank governor Mohammed Awad bin Hammam, he is seen by bank insiders as a key architect in the stabilisation of the Yemeni riyal during 2011, particularly in targeting money exchangers thought to be manipulating its currency. He was also instrumental during talks with the IMF and Saudi Arabia during 2012. Al-Nahari has also played an important role in promoting plans to diversify Yemen’s economy, and government revenues, away from a reliance on oil exports. Before the 2011 uprising, he was a proponent of the creation of a stock market in Sanaa. He is currently leading the bank’s research on future strategy.

Contact Tel: (+967) 1 274 318

Ahmed Thabet al-Absi

Position: General manager, International Bank of Yemen

Biography: Ahmed Thabet al-Absi has been the general manager of the International Bank of Yemen since 1996. The bank, one of the country’s oldest lenders, was set up in what was then the Yemen Arab Republic in 1979. International Bank of Yemen is owned by several influential Yemeni families, including the Saudi-Yemeni Bin Mahfooz family. It is the second-largest bank in the country and controls about 15 per cent of the banking system assets and weathered the crisis of 2011 well. However, with Yemen’s economy suffering slow growth after two years of decline and a number of contractors struggling to meet payment requirements for loans, largely due to government non-payment, the bank faces some stiff challenges over the coming years. Al-Absi has worked at International Bank of Yemen for the duration of his career.

Contact Tel: (+967) 1 407 000

Abdul-Ghabar Hayel Saeed

Position: Chairman, Tadhamon International Islamic Bank

Biography: Abdul-Ghabar Hayel Saeed is the chairman of Tadhamon International Islamic Bank, Yemen’s biggest sharia-compliant bank. A member of the country’s powerful Hayel Saeed family, which holds the majority share in the bank, he is also general manager of the industrial unit of Hayel Saeed Group, one of Yemen’s biggest business conglomerates. Abdul-Ghabar was instrumental in setting up Tadhamon in 1995, and has been chairman since then. He is also a member of the board of the Central Bank of Yemen. Tadhamon estimates that it has assets of more than $1.4bn. Like International Bank of Yemen, the lender did a good job of surviving the 2011 crisis, and in 2012, was voted Yemen’s top domestic foreign exchange services bank at the Asian Banking & Finance Awards. Abdul-Ghabar has a degree in economics and politics from the University of Cairo in Egypt.

Contact Tel: (+967) 1 203 270

Youssef Abdo al-Kuraimi

Position: Managing director, Alkuraimi Islamic Microfinance Bank

Biography: Youssef Abdo al-Kuraimi is a founding board member and chairman of Alkuraimi Islamic Microfinance Bank, Yemen’s first private-sector microfinance institution. The bank was set up in 2010 as part of attempts by the Al-Kuraimi family to diversify beyond their existing Alkuraimi Express business, the biggest money transfer and exchange service firm in Yemen. Alkuraimi works with the Social Fund for Development on micro-payments to poor Yemenis, who do not have the funds to access the formal banking system. Only 4 per cent of Yemenis have a relationship with a bank, and just 0.6 per cent have access to credit. Microfinance and loans to small and medium-sized enterprises are a key part of international institutions’ strategy to get Yemen’s economy working. Al-Kuraimi has a master’s degree in business administration from Sudan’s University of Gezira.

Contact Tel: (+967) 1 269 399

Mohammed Saleh al-Lai

Position: Executive director and chief executive officer, Al-Amal Microfinance Bank

Biography: Mohammed Saleh al-Lai is executive director and chief executive of Al-Amal Microfinance Bank, which holds the distinction of being the first microfinance bank in the Middle East and North Africa. Al-Amal was founded in 2009 as part of efforts to expand credit beyond the country’s urban elite. It is owned by a 45:35:20 mix of the government, the UN and private investors. With poverty now affecting around half of Yemen’s population, increased access to banking is crucial to raising standards of living and engagement in the economy. Al-Lai is a former employee of both the Central Bank of Yemen and the Social Fund for Development. He has holds a master’s degree in international banking and finance from the UK’s Liverpool John Moores University.

Contact Tel: (+967) 1 449 731

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