Dubai: The current slowdown in business is good for the banking sector and UAE banks would emerge strong from these challenges, said Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of UAE Banks Federation (UBF) at the meeting of the CEOs Advisory Council of UBF on Wednesday.

“The banking sector continue to adapt fast to both global and regional economic challenges and new opportunities, and relative slowdown witnessed is good for the long-term health of the banking sector, as it encourages players across the industry to place greater emphasis on innovation to increase business efficiency and drive future growth,” said. Al Ghurair.

Making a presentation at the UBF meeting, Patrice Favre, Chairman of UBF Information Security Committee, outlined the need to further collaborate across the UAE banking industry in order for banks to become more cyber resilient. The proposal described the benefits of creating a Cyber Intelligence Sharing Platform which will allow banks to better identify, protect, detect and respond to cyber-attacks. This will enable banks to focus their resources on implementing relevant cyber security strategies.

Sharing findings from an all-inclusive review of the performance and progress of the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector in the UAE, Brian Belcher, Chairman of UBF Risk Management Committee, highlighted the importance of independent auditing to form an opinion on the accuracy, reliability and fairness of representations in the financial statements of enterprises.

The meeting also discussed how the proposed roll-out of Value Added Tax (VAT) in the UAE will impact the country’s financial sector members, the challenges presented by the new tax framework, and the best practices to effectively deal with VAT obligations for financial services.

UBF expects the banking sector to remain strong amid economic challenges. “Comfortable liquidity and strong capitalisation in a diversified economy will help banks withstand the headwinds and the new regulations will help strengthen the banking sector,” said Al Ghurair.