Saudi Arabia is New Frontier for UAE Bank

After being granted a license by the Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority (SAMA), the largest lender in the United Arab Emirates, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) is poised to establish a commercial banking business in Saudi Arabia.

As part of the expansion strategy of FAB that only just saw Riyadh’s Capital Market Authority (CMA) give permission for it to establish an investment banking subsidiary, the UAE bank will be able to open up to 3 branches in the Kingdom.

The FAB follows other financial institutions in the West that have expressed interests in operating in Saudi Arabia as the Kingdom’s economy welcomes foreign investments in line with the Vision 2030 modernization and reform program.

In April of last year, Citibank started up in Jeddah after a 13 year gap, making it the first US bank to have a presence in more than a decade. The bank was issued a license to take part in purchases and mergers, privatizations, initial public offerings, and other capital markets business.

Last June, Goldman Sachs which has been operating in Saudi Arabia since 2009 as an agent and underwrites won CMA approval for a license to trade equities.

The chairman of FAB, Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan commenting on the license said in light of the recent securities license approval secured earlier this year, the bank is moving forward with the next phase of their growth plan for the Saudi Market.

Nahyan believes that by presenting new opportunities for customers in the region to grow stronger, this new addition to the banking landscape will be another facilitator for the continued advancement of the Kingdom’s economic agenda and will further reinforce the solid relationship between the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Abdulhamid Saeed, the CEO of the bank said that these improvements give them the opportunity to tap into the region’s largest economy with the full strength and capabilities of the bank riding on the contrails of the Saudi Market. He said that they are confident that their expansion into the Kingdom will enhance their regional presence and will provide an important contribution to their international network.

The international network of FAB spans over 19 countries outside the United Arab Emirates. FAB had total assets of $182 billion, based on audited financial information as at the end of December, 2017.

The stock exchange of Saudi Arabia in mid-2015 opened itself to direct investment by foreign institutions and last year, the Kingdom eased restrictions on foreign ownership in its stock market so as to improve the investment environment.

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