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  • Mashreq Bank is a perennial winner of this award. Can any other regional lender compete with its ambition to be not just the best digital bank in the region but one of the best in the world? So far at least answer is a resounding ‘no’.
  • Mashreq Al Islami is proving year after year that an Islamic bank with industry-leading digital capabilities doesn’t need vast scale to disrupt the regional market.
  • As European and Chinese banks scale back in Africa to cut costs and redeploy capital to core markets, Middle East lenders are happily jumping in to fill the gap, buying assets and putting more boots on the ground as bilateral trade between the regions increases.
  • Mashreq Bank may not be the Middle East’s largest lender, but it is the region’s most digitally innovative and influential financial institution. Its digital journey was already well advanced when Ahmed Abdelaal was named chief executive in late 2019, but since then innovation has gone into overdrive.
  • Ahmed Abdelaal is the first non-Ghurair family member to lead Mashreq Bank. His first two Covid-marred years in charge as chief executive were a baptism of fire, but he has hired well and decisively, putting in place a cosmopolitan management team that is transforming the Dubai-based lender.
  • No regional lender comes close to competing with Mashreq Bank for the best digital bank award. Under group chief executive Ahmed Abdelaal and head of corporate and investment banking Joel Van Dusen, the Dubai-based lender has become not just a powerhouse in digital but a leader too. It continues to invest heavily in blockchain. Its Trade Tracker platform allows corporates to track all transactions in real time and to view them all in a single window. TradeFursaa sucks in data from the bank’s business lines, then uses AI and big data to identify opportunities for traders and exporters.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the move towards cashless economies as governments advise against the use of cash because of its role as a vector for the virus. That has left many financial institutions scrambling to upgrade their systems.
  • Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair After taking over from his father, Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair went against advice to put his own vision in place.