How long have you been with the Bank?
14 good years. I am so happy that I joined Commercial Bank. It is one of the only banks to include staff on many different levels and to have harmony. The management is so nice, so pious and ambitious. The atmosphere in the Bank is really a family atmosphere. This is the right place for me.
You make it sound like heaven. What particular aspect is the most important to you?
Commercial Bank is a challenging place to work. You come to know a lot of things about yourself that probably you did not think about before. You discover things about your capabilities, and that is in itself very challenging.
Do you come from a banking background?
Yes. I also worked in a GCC organisation, in financial administration. That was a rich experience for me.
You were born in Qatar, but where were you educated?
I attended high school here and then I went to the US, first to Michigan and then to Portland, Oregon.
And you never thought of staying in the US?
It was a good experience to study there, but I did not think of staying there permanently. It is a place where you can gain experience. Then you can come back to implement the most positive things in your own country.
This is an interesting point. You had experience at college in the US in two heartland states. How much of that experience could you transfer or transpose to a country like Qatar?
I tried very hard to transfer the positive sides of their ventures into our culture. At the beginning I found it a bit difficult for the society here to accept what I had imported.
How many years ago was it that you returned?
I returned in 1982.
And clearly you had a desire for change …
Ambitious people try hard to change for the better while keeping their identity and staying in touch with society. I was doing whatever I could to achieve change without touching the identity of Qatar’s culture. Change is always good, but at the same time we have to believe in the identity of this country.
How have you applied that principle to the Bank? At the end of the day business has to be profitable, right? It has to adapt or die.
Definitely. For us, it was as much of an educational process as it was for our customers.
We don’t just use advertising; we have meetings where we explain our objectives and new services to our customers, to show them how it will be better for them and for us.
They think this is the right attitude and that it is good for them.
Can money change a culture or help to change a culture?
That’s a difficult one! It shapes people, but I don’t know to what extent it can upset culture.
It is 30 years since you returned from the States. Did you ever imagine Qatar being the way it is today?
No. I was thinking that maybe we would have change, but that it was going to take maybe 80 or 100 years. 30 years was very fast. And yes, there is more to come. The world is changing. Qatar is changing faster.