Why has Commercial Bank done so well?
We have done our homework. We fly everywhere and do our job. Good relationships are the most important thing.
In the Gulf, the banking and business communities are almost an extended family. Or is that changing now?
It’s changing a little bit. Everything is changing.
What aspect of your business has been the most successful, building personal relationships or creating a meritocracy within the Bank?
It’s everything together, a mix of things. If you don’t have any relationships, you cannot do any business.
How important a part of the Qatari economy is Commercial Bank?
We cannot take everything on our shoulders. You must share everything. Nobody can do anything without the others.
Would you describe Commercial Bank as a family bank?
A long time ago, it was, yes. But now many people have shares in the Bank.
How did you come to join the board?
My father refused in the beginning when I said I wanted to join the Bank and the board. The other board members fought for me. Really he’s looking at things in a different way, my father. He didn’t want the father and the son in the same place because we are the major shareholder.
Do you remember your first board meeting?
Of course! You’re like a bird coming into the middle of some place, you know? You don’t know what’s going on.
Can you say something about your two affiliates, the National Bank of Oman and United Arab Bank?
Yes. We have 40 per cent in United Arab Bank and 35 per cent in the National Bank of Oman. This is what is allowed. We’ve managed both banks for four years and it’s going well. Even in the crisis they were in a good position.
So why not acquire a bank in London or New York?
We are planning to go step by step ...
Do you think you will ever become an international player?
Do you mean that you want to know my secret?
I want to know your secret, yes!
It’s difficult to say, you know. But we are cooking ideas …
How often does the board meet each year?
The rule is six times. We met last year about ten times. We don’t follow the rule; we follow what the Bank needs.