Mohamed Ali Bouabane Leadership Interview with Al Bayan Magazine

Mohamed Ali Bouabane (CEO, AIG GCC & North Africa) sat down with Al Bayan Magazine to outline his views on the insurance sector in the UAE, AIG’s vision and differentiators in this market as well as the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Can you tell us a bit about your career to date?

I started my insurance career with Blue Cross, Blue Shield in Canada. I then joined AIG in 2007 on our management associate program. I’ve held various leadership positions across the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and Asia Pacific. I was responsible for the development and execution of digital strategies, accident & health underwriting, country distribution strategies and managing large sales and underwriting teams.

More recently, I was the Asia Pacific Leader for Accident & Health, Travel and Service programs. In my current role, as CEO of GCC & North Africa, I manage both our direct & reinsurance businesses. Our direct business covers the UAE while our reinsurance operations span across the UAE, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Francophone Africa, etc.

In terms of education, I have an Applied Physics Degree from the Andre-Laurendeau College in Montreal, Canada.


How do you evaluate the insurance sector in UAE?

Despite being the 5th economy in the Middle East, the UAE remains the largest market for both direct and reinsurance business in the region. With an anticipated GDP growth of 4.2% in 2022 accelerating from 2.1% last year, it bodes well for the insurance industry. We continue to see new market entrants in the DIFC which further solidifies Dubai’s leading position as a reinsurance hub for the Middle East and Africa. On the direct front, the acceleration of insurtech startups and aggregators is certainly changing the landscape and helping drive a boom in online insurance sales. We are bullish about the prospects of the UAE insurance sector.


Can you tell us about your vision for AIG in this region?

Our vison for AIG GCC and North Africa is to drive forward the communities in which we operate. When you look at the United Arab Emirates for example, we’re an insurance partner behind some of the greatest landmarks, companies and milestones of this nation, including Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Expo 2020 and Emirates Airlines.  

Our insurance solutions in this region include Property, Casualty, Marine, Financial Lines, SME Package, Travel and Accident & Health.

We will continue to support local market ambitions through product innovation, a differentiated distribution approach, surpassing customer expectations and investing in our people.


How does AIG differentiate itself compared to the market?

We differentiate ourselves from others in the market through various elements including:


  1. We truly have market leading talent that provide expertise and innovation to our clients in terms of their insurance & risk management programs.
  2. We pride ourselves on being a strong global insurer with a localised approach backed by "A" rated financial strength. Our extensive multinational capabilities also enable us to support our clients accelerated global growth ambitions.
  3. AIG has a reputation as being a reliable and responsive claims partner and standing by our clients when they need us most. For example, we will pay 50% of the agreed loss within 7 days for Commercial Property claims.
  4. In terms of product innovation and development, we were the first to bring Defense Base Act, Environmental, Cyber & Management Liability insurance solutions to this market.


Digitalization is becoming a must for the industry, as AIG, what you are doing in that field?

We’ve invested heavily in terms of our digital solutions. For example, our AIG One platform allows our broker partners to get a quote and bind an insurance policy in a matter of minutes. It essentially serves as an end-to-end digital solution for the SME segment in this region. We’re hearing from our broker partners that it’s the best digital solution they’ve seen in the market and offers a broad product mix including office, employee protector, food & beverage, retail, property owners and the list goes on. We’ll continue to add more products and enhance the digital journey of this platform with the aim of becoming the go-to provider for the local SME sector.


Can you comment on how your promoting diversity & inclusion within your workplace?

I am always very proud of the innate diversity we have here in AIG GCC & North Africa. Fostering a diverse and inclusive culture within our GCC & North Africa business is a primary focus for me and my local leadership team. It’s a well-documented fact that diverse teams outperform homogenous ones as potential outcomes or results are vetted more thoroughly. With diversity comes multiple perspectives through the variety of backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. This increases the ability of the team to solve problems and be innovative.

I want to hold myself accountable in terms of our diversity, equity and inclusion objectives and establish a sense of shared ownership amongst our colleagues. Our current GCC & North Africa succession plan will achieve at term, amongst other DEI objectives, gender balance amongst our management team. This is despite Dubai's ratio of males to females being skewed, with approximately 75% of the population being male. We should lead the charge in DEI across our industry and this is one of the many ways AIG can.

Please click here to read the full issue of Al Bayans’ Dubai World Insurance Conference supplement.