Dubai: The State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan (SLICP) is to expand its UAE and Gulf operations into a Regional Office, it was announced on Sunday.

SLICP’s Gulf Zone standing will be upgraded to a Regional Office ranking, revealed Makhdoom Ameen Fahim, Pakistan’s commerce minister, during a Gulf Zone award ceremony in Dubai on Sunday.

Robust performance in the UAE sector has helped the Gulf Zone develop into a wider Regional Office, officials added.

Fahim made the comments as the chief guest of the corporation’s annual awards ceremony for its top Gulf Zone performers. Operations in regional countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are handled by Gulf Zone office, with new plans to enter Bahrain and Qatar as well.

In the UAE since 1978, the state-run SLICP has branches in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Al Ain – which alone saw an 80 per cent business sector expansion.

In 2012, the Zone generated revenues to the tune of $18 million (around Dh66 million), with about 20,000 policy holders in its client base. It started with just 35 employees but now has about 100 staff members.

The revenue boom has been attributed to active sales staff and managers, who were given various prizes during the annual ceremony, held at the Taj Palace Hotel in Dubai. Policy holders too are being rewarded — with SLICP’s increased capacity to bestow eight per cent bonuses compared to only four per cent four years ago.

“I hope people will continue to take benefits through State Life. It has been the vision of the Pakistan People’s Party and the Ministry of Commerce to see that benefits reach the masses… The Gulf Zone office has performed well, and it will be converted into a Regional Office,” Fahim said.

The government-owned corporation is one of the few state companies that are actually profitable, SLICP Chairman Shahid Aziz Siddiqi was quoted as saying recently in an article in the International Herald Tribune.

Pakistan’s consul general in Dubai, Tariq Somro, added: “I hope the achievements of the Gulf Zone brightens the name of State Life and of Pakistan as well. People with good performance records should be rewarded, as always.”

The corporation is also making in-roads with non-Pakistanis as well, said Khalid Mahmood Shahid, Zonal Chief – Gulf Countries, SLICP. “We have policy holders in the UAE and elsewhere who are non-Pakistani — Lebanese, Emirati, Americans, British, Indians, Bangladeshis.

“That’s because we’ve got a number of special products not available through others, like one policy for both life partners without the other having to pay a premium — like a ‘buy-one-get-one-free deal.’”

Based in Karachi, SLICP is a nationalised insurer with 2012 total premium income levels rising almost 20 per cent to Rs53.9 billion (about Dh2 billion).