September 28, 2005
5:45pm - 9:00pm
The New York Palace
455 Madison Avenue
New York NY
Kuwait News Agency coverage of the 2005 ABANA Achievement Award:
NEW YORK, Sept 30 (KUNA) — Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Kuwait Projects Company (KIPCO) Faysal Al-Ayyar was presented late Wednesday night with the Arab Bankers Association of North America (ABANA) 2005 Achievement Award. The prestigious ABANA Achievement Award was presented to Al-Ayyar, the third Kuwaiti outstanding official to receive such an award, during a ceremony attended by more than 300 international dignitaries and business leaders at the New York Palace on the city’s famed Madison Avenue.
Al-Ayyar was introduced to the guests by the Chairman of the Jordanian-Kuwaiti Bank and former Jordanian Prime Minister Abdelkarim Al-Kabariti who praised the recipient’s leadership skills which contributed during the past 15 years to put KIPCO on the economic and investing map of the Middle East and North Africa.
In his acceptance speech, Al-Ayyar said he was deeply honored to receive the ABANA Achievement Award, and paid tribute to the support he received over the years from his family, colleagues, shareholders, and especially “my brother and friend Sheikh Hamad Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah for his leadership spirit.
Al-Ayyar went on to detail the economic challenges and opportunities currently facing the Middle East, and sounded an optimistic note for the future.
“The people of the region are bullish and daring,” he said. “They are pushing ahead – making investments, starting companies, and launching projects at a scale and speed previously unheard of. This new wave of dynamic activity is boosting self confidence, hope – and at times, euphoria.” Al Ayyar said record high oil prices, a vibrant private sector, booming tourism and gradual liberalization of economies were clearly creating real and lasting value in the region.
– “The normal euphoria that emerges in this environment is creating pockets of bubble. Like all bubbles they will eventually burst,” Al-Ayyar predicted.
But his view was that the fundamental strength of the region’s economies would allow them to ride out the effects of such a situation. He also expressed the thought that speculative activity would be checked by the historically conservative stance adopted by regional regulators, to ensure banks and financial institutions’ exposure to stock market and real estate remained at prudent levels.
At the same time, he noted that the regional society was evolving around two distinct broad blocks – one that wanted to progress and become part of the global world; and another that wanted to maintain, or go back to, old ways.
“Success perhaps can be achieved if governments in our region use these positive economic conditions to further social justice, democratic reform, education, and investment initiatives that will create jobs for the fast growing number of youth entering the job market,” he said.
“Government action,” he added, “can tilt the balance and will aid the process of our region in merging with the global economy.” Al-Ayyar told KUNA following the ceremony that this award was not granted to him personally but rather to the whole employees and shareholders, pointing out that KIPCO was a “pioneer fledgling idea that started with USD 200 million and is now managing assets worth USD 15 billon and that its staff increased from 50 at the beginning to reach a current 12,000.” He also recalled “how the company started with two small entities and has now reached 55 affiliated companies, and from a difficult establishment in two countries to a constant presence in more than 17 countries.” Responding to a question on whether he is optimistic about the economic and political future in the region, he said that the region is facing an unprecedented historic opportunity which requires from governments to start political and economic reforms matching the conditions of this phase and its challenges.
ABANA is granting its achievement award annually to the individual who has made a significant and lasting contribution in the field of banking and financial services in the Arab world, or to an individual of Arab descent who has made similar contribution to banking and financial services in general.
Past recipients of the ABANA award include Lubna Olayan, CEO of Olayan Financing Company; Dr. Richard A. Debs, founding president of Morgan Stanley International; and HRH Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, founder of Kingdom Holding Company.
Al-Ayyar is the third Kuwaiti to be honored by ABANA in recent years, following Abdulatif Yousef Al-Hamed, director general of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development in 1993; and the late Mohamad Abdulmohsin Al-Kharafi, former chairman of National Bank of Kuwait, in 1988.
ABANA is a non-profit professional association with members from the financial services industry in the Middle East and the United States. Through its programs, website, and publications, ABANA fosters improved relations, information-sharing and understanding between the Arab and American public and private financial sectors.
Reprinted from Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), Kuwait