On Monday, March 26th 2012, the annual conference organized by the banks committee of the International Chamber of Commerce was held in Qatar with more than 400 attendees including businessmen, figures from the banking sector, Chairmen and CEOs of the largest companies in Palestine and the Arab World in addition to a number of Palestinian figures in the Diaspora.
During the annual conference, a smaller conference sponsored by Bank of Palestine was held by the International Chamber of Commerce in Qatar and Palestine and was attended by Sheikh Khalifa Ben Jassem Ben Mohammad Al-Thani, Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, who gave a welcome speech in which he praised the cooperation between the economic institutions in Palestine and Qatar leading to the creation of projects that support the economic growth in both countries. "Invest in Palestine" Conference aims to change the stereotype about the investment environment in Palestine and to encourage starting new investments in Public Shareholding Companies and future projects in Palestine.
Dr. Jehad Al-Wazir, Governor of Palestinian Monetary Authority, gave a speech about the updates of the banking sector in Palestine and the significant growth achieved during the last few years. He also listed a number of these developments such as the National Payments System, building an electronic database for credits which is one of the best systems in the world, in addition to the approval of Palestinian Monetary Authority for a number of systems and legal and administrative rules according to the international standards. Dr. Al-Wazir added that it is expected that the Palestinian Monetary Authority will fully apply Basel 2 Standards by med 2013.
A recently published report by the International Monetary Fund has indicated the success of the Palestinian banks and financial institutions in the Stress Test conducted by the Monetary Authority according to Basel 2 Standards to measure the different stress levels. The Palestinian banks have shown a huge ability to overcome the political and economic difficulties and the ability to offer facilities and adapt with market changes.
Mr. Hashem Al-Shawwa, Chairman and General Manager of Bank of Palestine, gave a presentation about the investment environment and the banking sector in Palestine in addition to the success story of the bank since its establishment in 1960 highlighting the consistent growth and financial results achieved in the last few years during which the bank has been awarded a number of national and international awards labeling it as "The Best Bank in Palestine". Some of these awards were given to Bank of Palestine for the tenth year in a row.
Mr. Al-Shawwa also shared the financial results of the bank with the attendees stating that the bank has achieved a growth in revenues to 89 m USD in 2011 compared with 78 m USD at the end of 2010. The bank assets amounted to 1,653,960.732 USD compared with 193,827.503 USD at the end of 2010 making it the largest Palestinian company in terms of financial assets. The value of the shares has also increased to 193,827.503 USD at the end of 2011.
Mr. Ahmad Oweida, CEO of Palestine Exchange, has also provided a brief introduction about Palestine Exchange and the stages of its development as well as the environment in which it operates and the services it offers for the investors through an advanced technological and electronic environment governed by the foundations of good governance and transparency.
Mr. Jamal Haddad, Consultant of Palestine Investment Fund (PIF), shared a number of success stories for cooperation of PIF in different sectors including telecommunications, tourism and real estate development to construct a number of residential subdivisions in different Palestinian cities such as Al-Jinan in Jenin and Al-Rayhan in Ramallah. He also referred to the cooperation between PIF and Qtel Qatari Group to start Al-Wataneyya Mobile.
Mr. Michel Hankok, from Qtel Group, gave a presentation about their experience in investing in Palestine and their vision for these investments of cooperation with PIF to start the second cellular telecommunications company in Palestine, Al-Wataneyya Mobile. He listed the benefits of such experience since Qtel has invested an amount of 300 m USD in Al-Wataneyya Mobile believing in the efficiency of investing in Palestine despite the political and economic difficulties.
The program of "Invest in Palestine" Conference also included a documentary about the construction of a modern residential community in Palestine, Rawabi, through cooperation between Al-Deyar Qatari Real Estate Company and Bayty Investments Group.
Mr. Sadiq Rashed, from Capital Towers Group, has mentioned "Riyada" Program for projects development in which a number of Palestinian and Arab companies have participated such as: Capital Towers, PIF, Bank of Palestine, Sisco, European Investment Bank, with a capital of 50 m USD aiming to support small and medium investments in Palestine such as "The Fruits of Nature" Company in Al-Ouja village in the valley of Jordan which is a leading company in the production and exportation of natural herbs.