Lessons from a revolution: Egypt’s CIB ready to fight Covid-19
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Lessons from a revolution: Egypt’s CIB ready to fight Covid-19

As Egypt ramps up measures to contain the coronavirus, CIB chairman Hisham Ezz Al-Arab tells Euromoney how the 2011 revolution has left the bank well prepared to deal with the current crisis.


“This is not the first crisis we have been through,” Hisham Ezz Al-Arab, chairman and managing director of Egypt’s Commercial International Bank (CIB) tells Euromoney. “January 2011 was a very tough time.”

Curfews, shutdowns and threats to life may be fresh challenges to many global banks more used to dealing with mortgage crises and market volatility, but those operating in Egypt have faced and survived these sorts of threats before.

Egypt’s bankers were confronted with upheaval when a revolution ousted president Hosni Mubarak in 2011, sparking years of intermittent unrest.

Hisham Ezz Al-Arab-300

Hisham Ezz Al-Arab, CIB

Banks faced attacks from armed mobs. During that time Al-Arab, who steered CIB through the Arab Spring, spent night shifts on the streets of Cairo protecting his neighbourhood, armed with a recreational rifle.

The events “represented such a valuable learning experience”, he told Euromoney last year, teaching CIB the true meaning of contingency planning and crisis management.

“When things went down, we were the only ones hiring people, training people and investing in our future,” says Al-Arab.

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