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Pakistan’s MCB looks to the Middle East to drive growth

Pakistan’s MCB looks to the Middle East to drive growth

Pakistani finance minister Ishaq Dar said that both the UAE and Pakistan could learn from each other when dealing with issues such as extremism

Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates could learn from each other when it comes to tackling terrorism in order to create a safe place for companies to do business, the finance minister of Pakistan has told Gulf Business. Some commentators suggested that the UAE could face an elevated terrorist threat as a result of blowback following its increased involvement in a number of foreign military operations in recent years. However, the country has remained relatively peaceful and safe when compared to its conflict-ridden Middle East- ern neighbours.

Pakistani finance minister Ishaq Dar said: “We can both learn from each other on tackling terrorism. It is a by-product of 9/11; it got stationed in Pakistan and our economy paid the price.” Dar was in Dubai to attend an over- seas launch of one of Pakistan’s leading banks – MCB. The firm, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange and claimed to have one of the “top 10 healthiest company balance sheets in the world”, intended to use the launch in order to gain a foothold in wholesale banking in Dubai. It also planned to expand its footprint across the UAE with Dubai acting as a base.

Addressing an audience of delegates at the Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa, Dar insisted that Pakistan’s economy had been recovering well since 2013 despite the threat of default – which had loomed large for a number of years. The country was last year ranked as the 44th largest economy in the world. And famed economist Jim O’Neill predicted in 2014 that Pakistan would move up to 18th spot in the global rankings by 2050.

“I am looking forward to more Pakistani banks opening not only in the Middle East but wherever the diaspora is present,” said Dar. Pointing to low interest rates, a significantly reduced fiscal deficit, gross domestic product and foreign direct investment upturns, a progressive government privatisation programme, ratings agencies sovereign upgrades and higher currency reserves the minister added: “There have been deep-rooted structural reforms, which have produced excellent results.

“Our economy has passed through a transition, the business environment in Pakistan is now really positive. The challenges we still face are energy and extremism. We are fighting this menace but we are in a global war. We are now dealing with extremism with great confidence and we will get rid of this menace in the years ahead.”

Also attending the launch, Dubai culture minister Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak said he hoped that MCB succeeded in the UAE – adding: “Banks mean money and money propels our progress. I am confident that relations between the two countries will strengthen and we will move forwards together in a more prosperous world.”

Across the world, MCB has 11,000 employees with operations in a number of locations, including Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bahrain and now Dubai. The bank was created back in 1948. It was nationalised in 1974 before being privatised in 1991. Group chairman of MCB Mohammad Mansha said: “We hope this will be the start of a vibrant presence in the UAE.”

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