Diaspo # 31: When reinsurance takes Chakib Abouzaid on a trip to the Arab world

Chakib Abouzaid is a Moroccan national who managed to lead a successful life abroad. Operating in the field of reinsurance in the United Arab Emirates, he built himself a solid career to learn from.

Chakib Abouzaid, a Moroccan national living in the Middle East./Ph. Chakib Abouzaid
Estimated read time: 3'

Chakib Abouzaid has an impressive charisma and a confident voice when speaking about all the countries he lived in. On the phone, the 60-year-old man was happy to share his experience and know-how. He built a career in the reinsurance field, and gradually imposed himself reaching the highest positions. As impressive as it may sound, Chakib Abouzaid left the Kingdom of Morocco to live in several countries, first to study in France, then in Tunisia, Lebanon, Bahrain and finally to work in the United Arab Emirates.

The Meknes-native is from a middle-class family. Son of a carpenter, he was enrolled in a Koranic school in the same city. He grew up in a big family with his grandmother and learned so many things from his self-taught uncle. «Everyone in my family used to read the Kuwaiti magazines 'Al Arabi' and 'Dar Al Hilal', which have helped me later in my career. Indeed, I love Arab countries and ended up visiting them all», he told Yabiladi.

When he was 18 years old, Chakib flew to France to study in Bordeaux and Grenoble and succeeded in school : He got a Bachelor, a Master's degree and an advanced postgraduate degree in Development Economics. «During this period, I met students who later became brilliant economists, ministers and senior officials, such as Salaheddine Mezouar, Saad Belghazi and others», he recalled.

While studying, Chakib Abouzaid joined the National Union of Students of Morocco. He was also a member of the committees that fought against repression in Morocco during the 80s. «The political struggle has opened my eyes to so many things, I got interested in geopolitics, history, and critical thinking... These were good days for me, I had a scholarship to study, the French universities were open wide to us and we met great teachers, political activists from all over the world», said the man who is specialized in Islamic finance.


«In the mid 1980s, social science graduates and PhDs were suffering from unemployement. It had even become a problem for me, I did not want to go back to Meknes, staying jobless and reaching out to my dad, as I had been independent since I was 18 years old».

However, destiny had better things for Chakib Abouzaid. The turning point of his life took place during a trip to Tunis in the summer of 1987 : «I was in front of the Arab Maghreb Development Finance Institute, I decided to go back and find out. A Tunisian friend of Moroccan origins explained to me that a contest is organized annually to recruit Maghrebi students to train them in the field of insurance and banking», he told Yabiladi. Chakib Abouzaid applied, sat for the test and succeded.

«I still had to find a sponsor to pay for my Master's and my salary. A very nice lady introduced me to the man who became my teacher, mentor, and boss for 17 years. So I went back to the Institute, hoping to have a position».

Working hard, Chakib Abouzaid graduated as a valedictorian. Working in the field of reinsurance, he went to London to study English and worked as an intern at the world's largest broker at the time. «Despite a lot of hardship, the 90s had a lot of opportunities for me, I traveled all over Africa and the Middle East and made successful business meetings», he said.

Lebanon and then Bahrain

A few years later, Chakib Abouzaid was in the middle of a painful experience when his wife passed away because of an illness. «I realized very quickly that there is one simple choice, and it was letting go of my sorrow and getting back on track», said Chakib with a sigh.

In the summer of 2000, his boss offered him to head their office in Beirut. Chakib packed up to start a new life. «I worked hard. In Lebanon, I was in the middle of a country that I knew and loved», he said. In 2002, the Meknes-native met his current wife, and married her on the same year. «Life was going well, until the day a big explosion happened not far from my office, on February the 14th 2005. The Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al Hariri was among the victims. This attack made me think about the 'peace' that followed the Lebanese civil war. We had to think of a plan B».

Chakib Abouzaid started looking for another position, and ended up managing the new subsidiary of the Arab reinsurer Arig, Takaful Re. In October 2005, he moved to Bahrain to occupy this prestigious position in the field of Islamic finance.

«My new job within Takaful Re helped me grasp the field of Islamic Finance. I created a market, I traveled a lot in the Middle East and Asia and I made a lot of interviews. In 2007, I came to Morocco to visit some companies and talk to them about the Takaful insurance», he explained. However, the 2008 crisis ended up slowing down «the growing market» for Takaful Re.

Retirement in Morocco?

In 2012, Chakib became a dad and his life was turned upside down : «My priority now is my family. I resigned five days after the birth of Yasmine (his daughter, ed). It was a relief, the relations with the shareholders had become execrable,» says Chakib Abouzaid. Since then, he has worked as Group Chief Marketing Officer for GroupMed, an offshoot of BankMed Group Hariri.

Now, the 60-year-old leads a peaceful life, punctuated by trips to Morocco. «My dream is to live and work in Morocco. And in retirement, set up a microinsurance structure with NGOs and/or micro-credit organizations, to help the poor, and at the same time devote myself to my favorite activity : teaching reinsurance, insurance economy and Takaful», said the Moroccan economist.

«My journey that began in Meknes continues in Dubai today, but who knows where it will end? I dream of a semi-retirement surrounded by my family in Morocco.»

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