An Investigation into Operational Risk Mitigation in the United Arab Emirates Commercial Banking Industry
: Case Study Approach

  • Jamal Mousa Salim Shamieh

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This study researches a rapidly growing area of interest in the financial services industry, that is,operational hsk management, with special focus on the mitigation phase. Operational risk management has accelerated in importance in the financial services over the last two decades for many reasons, not least of which is the well-known catastrophic failure of large banks such as BCCI, Barings and Indymac, as well as the recent Global Financial Crisis. One of the main drivers behind such bank failures was the failure of the banks' managements to manage effectively and efficiently their operational risk exposure. The focus of this study is operational risk mitigation in the United Arab Emirates Commercial banking industry.

    A controversial issue with operational risk was deciding on an agreed and accepted definition within the financial services industry. It has been defined by Basel Committee on Banking Supervision as "the risk of loss resulting from inadequate or failed internal processes, people and systems or from external events. This definition includes legal risk, but excludes strategic and
    reputational risk." This definition captures a wide spectrum of risk categories such as fraud risks, people risks, legal risks and compliance risks, to name a few.

    Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, a Committee of banking supervisory authorities established by the central bank Governors of the Group often countries in 1974, published in June 2006 a document called the "International Convergence of Capital Measurement and Capital Standards - A Revised Framework Comprehensive Version" known as Basel II Accord, which requires banks, among many other things, to sustain capital adequacy to cover their operational risk exposures. This Accord was the result of a number of consultative documents issued by the same Committee which focused increasing attention on the need for operational risk adequate and efficient management. Bank managements are facing increasing pressure to ensure that operational risk exposures are being managed effectively and efficiently. This extended the main momentum for the study, being the first independently sponsored study of how the UAE commercial banks have developed their operational risk management frameworks as a basis for mitigating the range of operational risk exposures they encounter. The operational risks that prompted the current Financial Crisis and how they were mitigated in the context of the UAE commercial banks gave further momentum to the research.

    The study addresses the various key players in operational risk management and is, therefore, interdisciplinary. The foundations from which the field work was undertaken were based on theoretical propositions in the area of decision making since the process of mitigating an operational risk is rooted in making a decision. Multiple case studies were used in the design for the research to answer the research question and establish the practices in operational risk mitigation in the UAE commercial banking industry. Leading UAE commercial banks were carefully chosen as representatives of this industry.

    The findings of the research are in line with the conclusions of Basel Commiltee on Banking Supervision that the main responsibility for operational risk management, and therefore mitigation, is vested in operational managers. The analysis demonstrates that (hey do not do this independently,
    but are supported by other experienced people in this field. A model and check-lists of operational risk management, and therefore mitigation, is proposed demonstrating the complexity of the whole process due to the nature and the scale of operational risks. The thesis concludes by discussing some further potential research suggestions in this ever-growing area of interest.
    Date of AwardJun 2011
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJonathan Deacon (Supervisor) & Stuart Metcalfe (Supervisor)


    • Operational Risk Management
    • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
    • Banks and Banking
    • Financial management
    • Risk Management

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