by Upper Reach
Qatar’s banking sector is on a roll, with its institutions every day expanding their presence in the global financial network across the board and consolidating their business at home. Indeed, the country has the Middle East’s most competitive finance sector and its banks are leaders in annual asset growth at almost 20 per cent among financial institutions of the six fabulously wealthy Gulf Cooperation Council nations, according to the World Economic Forum. Other indicators are equally bullish: in 2013, the last year for which solid annual data is available, loan growth at Qatari banks was up 23 per cent, deposit growth rose 24 per cent and return on equity was 16 per cent, with higher lending, a low-cost base and low provisioning requirements supporting overall profitability.
Helping to fuel these trends has been massive government outlay on public spending programmes and increasing private investment, both financed mostly through the Qatari banking sector, which largely escaped the fallout from the world’s recent economic woes. “Qatar’s banking system has been mostly unaffected by the global financial turmoil,” notes Qatar Central Bank Governor, Sheikh Abdulla bin Saoud Al-Thani. “Supported by strong macroeconomic fundamentals and sound regulation, banks remain resilient with adequate capital, comfortable liquidity positions, high asset quality and good profitability.”
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