Figures released by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) show that the insurance sector grew by 12.4% in 2010. The Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Company, known as Medgulf
Insurance, is the industry’s established leader, and has contributed to this success. “We have fought and won and we will continue to do so,” says Lutfi El-Zein, the company’s chairman.
Medgulf is the premier insurance services provider in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, providing the retail and institutional markets with all risk coverage requirements through its operations in Lebanon, KSA, Bahrain, UK, UAE, Turkey and Jordan. The Group began its activities in 1980 in Lebanon and expanded through acquisitions and mergers.
Medgulf is currently the largest privately owned insurance and reinsurance company in the Arab world, and third in terms of the size of premium income, behind Tawuniya and Misr Insurance.
The company has also had to deal with negative perceptions of the insurance business, which many felt worked contrary to Sharia law. However, attitudes gradually relaxed, as regulation of the insurance industry was introduced in the 1990s. “Before regulation, many companies in Saudi just disappeared, and the rights of the policy holders went as well,” explains Mr. El-Zein.
However, the future now looks bright. Driven by strong macroeconomic performances – numerous construction projects in development and a global rise in oil prices – the insurance market in Saudi Arabia is currently at one of its peaks.
A combination of international know-how and an understanding of the country’s culture and economy is provided by Medgulf’s workforce, with staff trained first-hand by the company. “People who have lived and worked in the country are in a much better position to gauge the needs of their fellow citizens,” explains Medgulf’s chairman.
Saudi Arabia’s insurance sector is playing an increasingly important role in the national economy, and will continue to enjoy a greater capital position as local businesses become more aware of the importance of adequate insurance coverage.