The UAE is the largest insurance market in the Gulf, said the country's foreign trade minister at an industry forum in Dubai.
Speaking at the World Insurance Forum 2008, Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi said the United Arab Emirates makes up the biggest part of a Dh44-billion insurance turnover in the Gulf. Citing different sources, she added that the regional premiums will swell to Dh73 billion in the next two to 10 years.
“Increasing demand for automobile insurance, improved health awareness, and greater respect for natural calamities are some key factors that are expected to boost the premium pool of Gulf insurers …'' she said at the Dubai International Financial Centre, the Forum's host.
In the Middle East's commercial insurance landscape, ‘higher-risk' oil and construction projects are fueling growth, continued Shaikha Lubna.
“However, there are various efforts to expand insurance products; our host … for example, is studying the development of … Islamic insurance and re-insurance, known as Takaful, which is attracting regional and International interest. Takaful insurance is expected to grow to … Dh14.68 billion in the medium term; patronage of non-life product risk and diversification is expected to follow this trend as well. Overall, the Middle Eastern insurance industry is expected to grow at the compound rate of 18 to 20 per cent.''
But in the Gulf a lack of public awareness may slow down the growth, the Forum heard. Internationally, threats to the general insurance segment include climate change, wars and a poor legal environment, she added.
The Forum is being held March 17-20.