One of the main characteristics that differentiates Dubai from other commercial centres is its openness to innovation and the freedoms it grants people and institutions to operate.
Dubai's world class physical infrastructure has already established it as a major player in terms of trade, tourism and as the leading conference and exhibition venue in this part of the world.
No nation has embraced Total Quality Management, e-commerce and e-government with greater enthusiasm than Dubai. Such innovations have given Dubai a competitive edge and an accelerated growth rate that few could match.
One of the biggest challenges for the MENA region is unemployment coupled with high population growth rates. The World Bank is committed to supporting infrastructure projects that will help with job creation across the region.
I think the market should reward banks that have been transparent in recognising their problems. I think the tendency of banks to hide the problem assets over a period of three or four years should not be allowed.
Sometimes there are customers who get in difficulty because of situations that are out of their control. These are customers with genuine needs, and the role of the bank is to accommodate these customers, and there is a real need to reschedule the loans of these customers.
One way to ease liquidity for banks is that the government can buy all highly rated securities held by the banks. Every single bank in the U.A.E. has some sovereign debts in their portfolios. I am not asking them to buy any junk bonds, rather the high quality U.A.E. government debt.
The Central Bank should have a permanent window for discounting high quality securities where banks could go and discount these. It gives peace of mind to the banks. In the absence of this facility, what banks tend to do is to keep a liquidity cushion for emergency requirements. This is a very expensive way of managing liquidity.
In the U.A.E. we were the least-regulated environment in the region, and over time we are seeing more and more regulation coming in. On the other hand, a central bank can overregulate and choke the economy, and then we will have a dead banking industry.
Banks are concerned the central bank is imposing too many regulations. If the trend continues, we'll swing to heavy regulation. We need to have balanced regulation to encourage the economy.