The International Arab Banking Summit in Vienna Honors H.E. Adnan Kassar

It honors H.E. Adnan Kassar with the ‘Arab Banker of the Year 2012 – 2013’ Award and receives warm congratulations from H.E. the President of Austria.

June 2013

The International Arab Banking Summit 2013 that took place in Vienna, Austria on 27 – 28 June 2013 honored former Minister H.E. Mr. Adnan Kassar, the President of the board of directors of Fransabank, the Lebanese Economic Organizations and the General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture for Arab Countries with the ‘Arab Banker of the Year 2012-2013’ Award.

This honour was awarded to Mr. Kassar in tribute to his clear contributions to developing the Arab private sector and the banking and economic relations between the Arab States and with the international States and the Arab and global financial and economic institutions, as well as his active role in promoting the inter-Arab investment and trade exchanges and in creating job opportunities, as well as his distinguished role in social development and commitment to the concept of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR) in his own business and the Arab and international world of business.

The Summit was organized by the Union of Arab Banks, in cooperation with the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce, under the theme "The role of the Arab Banks in building the Arab civil capacities during the stage of post conflict". It was held under the sponsorship of the President of the Republic of Austria Dr. Heinz Fischer, in the company of the Vice-Chancellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Michael Spindelegger, the Director General and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Arab Monetary Fund Dr. Jassim Manai, the Chairman of the Union of Arab Banks Mr. Mohammed Kamal Alddeen Barakat, the President of the Union of Arab Bankers Dr. Joseph Torbey, President of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce Senator Dr. Richard Schenz and the Vice-President of the Chamber Mr. Nabil Kuzbari, and a large gathering of Ministers of finance and economy, Governors of Central Banks, Presidents of Arab and International Banks, distinguished banking and economic personalities and the Arab diplomatic delegations in Austria.

The honoring ceremony was held in the evening of the first day of the Summit in the Hufburg Palace. H.E. Mr. Kassar received the Award from the Chairman of the Union of Arab Banks Mr. Barakat. Mr. Kassar expressed his great pleasure in having been chosen from among the pioneer Arab Bankers for this Award that carries such rich moral value. He thanked the Chairman and the Board of Directors of the Union of Arab Banks and all the members of its General Assembly. He praised the remarkable development of the Arab Banking sector that has shown strength and immunity against the most reckless economic and financial crisis. He also pointed out that "The road ahead for Arab cooperation is still long. We need stronger cooperation mechanisms to cope with any future developments or crisis. They are also important for removing the obstacles that hinder the expansion of the Arab Banks in the Arab Region, as well as for advancing our banks further in terms of performance and size to become large financial entities that are capable of playing a major role in the financing of the large projects that are being implemented in the Arab world."

He said "I can't disguise the fact that I was surprised at being selected to receive this award, because I am not, like other Bankers that have preceded me and started at the base of this profession. As a matter of fact, my brother Adel and I found our way early into the world of trade in the fifties before entering the banking sector in 1980. It was an adventure in every sense of the word, for we ventured into the banking business when Lebanon, my home country, was going through the most difficult circumstances of the civil war, when a number of foreign banks were starting to leave the Country. Nevertheless, our decision then was based on our belief that Lebanon would exit the tunnel, and that there is a major role for the economic enterprises of the private sector in economic development as well as in assuming social responsibility. Since that time, we have seen the importance and strength of the banking sector as a major pillar of the Lebanese economy and for opening doors and prospects for the country's future."

The Chairman of the Union of Arab Banks Mr. Barakat presented the Award to Mr. Kassar. He talked about the unanimous welcome that Mr. Adnan Kassar received from the Board of Directors of the Union of Arab Banks and its General Assembly when he was nominated for the Award. He also praised his unique character, independent personality and goodness, as well as his active Lebanese, Arabic and international roles in supporting the Arab economic, banking and social causes and his accomplishments in the leadership positions that he assumed, in developing the role of the private sector and in supporting the efforts for economic reform. Mr. Barakat also praised him for his numerous activities in the public service, in addition to his success with his brother Adel in developing the action strategy of Fransabank Banking Group. He noted that Mr. Kassar was the only Arab person to preside over the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and that he left his outstanding mark in developing it and in encouraging the involvement of the developing States. He also praised his leadership of the General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture for Arab Countries, and his initiative in building a modern and up-to-date headquarters for this Union, and his role in advancing the joint Arab action, especially the Greater Arab Free Trade Area scheme, as ‘Lebanon and the Arab Countries were his ultimate purpose from the beginning’.

Also the former Chairman of the Union of Arab Banks Dr. Adnan Yousef made a speech in which he said "We, the Arab bankers are greeting and celebrating an Arab and international Banker who is like a brother and teacher to me". He added "Each nation of the world has its own festivals to celebrate, and our celebration today is to honour this man, a teacher and guide to generations.” He also added "We all know him as an admired Arabic personality, who has many fans in every corner of the Arabic world.” He thanked President Kassar for his sincere efforts that had a great impact on supporting the Arab banking business and in consolidating the belief in the inevitability of the Arab banking and economic integration.

To mark the occasion, H.E. the President of the Republic of Austria Dr. Heinz Fischer held a reception in the Presidential Palace in honor of the delegation of the Arab bankers participating in the banking Summit. He addressed them with a welcome speech, especially for President Kassar and expressed his warm congratulations to him for receiving the Award. He also spoke about the strong relations between Austria and the Arab States, which he considered a partner and friend of Austria. He said that his current policy is focused on expanding towards the east, and in particular towards the development of the Arab Austrian relations in the interest of both parties.

The Chairman of the Union of Arab Banks Mr. Barakat thanked the Austrian President for his warm welcome. He emphasized his keen interest in developing banking and economic relations with Austria.

In his turn, President Kassar thanked the President of Austria for his kind congratulations and words, expressing that he was delighted to receive this Award in Austria, because Austria has a special place in his heart. He also thanked him for his friendliness towards the Arab world and the Arab private sector, assuring that he is working closely with the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce to strengthen, at all levels, the trade exchanges, investment and banking cooperation, in line with the excellent political relations between the two sides. He said that Austria is a symbol of peace and stability, and that these two features were his theme during his presidency of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in 1999 and 2000, in view of their importance for economic prosperity and development, noting his milestone visit to the Austrian Presidency during that time. On this occasion Mr. Kassar said: "I would like to present this distinguished Award to the Lebanese and Arab banking sector and to each Lebanese and Arab banker".