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Al Jasser: leader of the new Gulf currency speaks

Below is the full text of an interview Al Jasser gave to Euromoney’s Dominic O’Neill on March 28, in the governor’s office in the Saudi capital.

Mohammed Al Jasser is governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (Sama), the country’s central bank and commercial banking regulator. As part of preparations for a regional single currency, on March 30 Al Jasser was named the first chairman of the newly created Gulf Monetary Council, the precursor for the regional central bank, which is to be based in Riyadh.

Al Jasser talks about the local banking environment and capital markets, about the project for a single currency, as well as about management of Sama’s foreign assets of about $400 billion. He downplays concerns that local banks received preferential treatment in the debt crises of the Saad and Al Gosaibi family groups.

Bank analysts still foresee relatively slow loan growth in Saudi Arabia this year. What is your outlook?

Saudi Arabia’s central bank governor, Mohammed Al Jasser

Loan growth between 2003 and 2008 was substantial relative to the growth in non-oil GDP. Following the contraction in the global economy, it was natural to expect some recalculation of risk and shrinkage in lending. In 2009, the volume of outstanding loans remained almost unchanged. It did not decline in absolute terms.

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