It is now more than six months since 'lock-downs' began in Europe, the Middle East and beyond, but we still cannot predict how or when this terrible pandemic will be brought under control.
Of course, the hard measures that were introduced at the start of the pandemic have been eased: many people have returned to work and our city centres are no longer the ghost-towns that they became in late-March and April. But local lock-downs continue. As I write this, millions of people in Britain have returned to conditions little different to those introduced in March.
At the Arab Bankers Association, we have been supporting our members through seminars and briefings that have focussed specifically on the challenges that banks – and in particular Arab banks in London – are facing as a result of the pandemic: new manifestations of cyber-crime, the difficulties of customer due diligence when face-to-face meetings are impracticable, and the legal aspects of recovering bad debts. We held 15 such seminars between April and the end of July.
Our seminar programme restarted in early September, comprising events organised by our corporate members and events that we organise and host ourselves through our own on-line webinar capabilities.
ABA staff have been working from home during the London lock-down, but in recent weeks they have been spending more time in the office. Our annual magazine, Arab Banker, has been produced on time, and is being distributed at the end of September. The Association's financial situation remains strong, despite the loss of revenue from events and social gatherings.
Throughout the pandemic, Arab banks have continued to serve their customers in London, and to provide services for clients in their home markets. They have done this while staff have been working from home, but, increasingly, senior staff are working from their offices. I am very proud of the resilience that Arab banks in London have shown.
At the Association, we continue to explore new ways to help our members navigate these extra-ordinary times, and I am always eager to speak to members about the challenges that they are facing and ways in which we can help to overcome them.
As we move into the second phase of this pandemic – a phase that may last for many months – I hope all of our members and their families will remain healthy and safe and that we can work together as an Arab banking community to continue meeting the needs of our customers and stakeholders.
Chief Executive Officer
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