After five years of helming the world’s most influential Islamic finance entity, Dr Bandar Hajjar has officially ended his term, leaving a legacy marked with various transformative programs, game-changing initiatives and proud achievements which strengthened the IsDB as an instrumental pillar of the Islamic finance industry. His successor, Dr Muhammad Sulaiman Al Jasser, another decorated Saudi national, is stepping into the IsDB presidency during a tumultuous period as the world faces an unprecedented global health crisis and economic upheaval. VINEETA TAN writes.
Appointed in 2016, Dr Bandar had big shoes to fill, having to replace Dr Ahmad Mohamed Ali, the man who led the IsDB as president for over four decades since the bank’s inception in 1975. Dr Ali grew the IsDB into a major socioeconomic force and anchored the IsDB’s importance in the Muslim world — Dr Bandar took the torch and continued to blaze the trail with a progressive and inventive spirit.
In the five years of his leadership, Dr Bandar empowered each of the IsDB’s subsidiaries while optimizing operations across the group through digitalization and strategic management, designed and implemented a 10-year strategy which provided the multilateral bank with a clear focus and direction, as well as introduced his five-year transformative program tackling six key areas to better position the IsDB as a force for good.
Perhaps the most salient themes underpinning the IsDB’s initiatives during Dr Bandar’s tenure have been sustainability, innovation and partnerships. From these driving values, various groundbreaking achievements were born including its seminal Sustainable Finance Framework and sustainability Sukuk which emphasized the role of Islamic financial instruments within the larger ethical finance narrative; its landmark SOFR-linked Sukuk which would influence future offerings as the world shifts away from LIBOR; and its Engage and Transform program which places science, technology and innovation at the heart of the IsDB’s growth strategies. These are but a few of the numerous success stories particularly in the area of sustainable development goals and multibillion-dollar life-saving measures during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
After a successful five-year term, Dr Bandar is passing the baton to his colleague Dr Muhammad. Dr Muhammad is no stranger to the life of service. The former minister of economy and planning minister of Saudi Arabia (2011–15) also served as the governor of the Saudi Central Bank from 2009–11. Acknowledged by peers as one of the most successful central bankers during his time, Dr Muhammad has since been an advisor to the Saudi Council of Ministers and the chairman of the General Authority for Competition since 2016.
The new president, who will serve for a five-year term, is coming in during a challenging time with many, if not all, of its member countries struggling under the pressure of the global pandemic. Nonetheless, Dr Muhammad is commanding an organization stronger than ever and it will be interesting to see where he takes the IsDB next.