Gulf special: Top five private banks


As part of a special feature on the Gulf, Wealth Bulletin profiles the top five private banks in the region.

HSBC Amanah

HSBC teamed up with local bank Amanah in 1998, and now has more than a hundred relationship managers, with global operations split between Dubai, London and New York. The bank has 126 retail, institutional and private banking branches in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Last month, Mukhtar Hussain became HSBC Amanah’s bank’s chief executive, returning to Dubai from London.

• Shamel Bank

Bahrain-based Shamel Bank, the private banking arm of investment bank Ithmaar, has assets under management of $2.4bn and reported a net profit of $24m for last year. The private bank has a staff of 211 and is headed by Faisal Mansoor Al Alwan. Earlier this year, Shamel Bank launched two real estate investment funds, targeting the emerging markets of Turkey and central and eastern Europe.

UBS (integrated with Noriba)

UBS is one of the longest-standing western banks operating in the Gulf, and can trace its origins there to the 1920s. UBS acquired Bahrain-based Noriba in 2006, which helped it grow its business rapidly. The Swiss bank has more than 200 employees in the region.

Samba Financial Group

Samba Financial Group, formerly Saudi American Bank, was the first to offer private banking services in Saudi Arabia. It is publicly listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange and has around $30bn in assets under management. It has close ties with Citigroup, having been founded in 1980 with the acquisition of Citibank’s branches in Saudi Arabia’s two largest cities, Jeddah and Riyadh. After gradually decreasing its holding in the bank, in 2004 Citigroup sold its remaining equity to make it 100% Saudi owned.

Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse has had a presence in the Middle East for more than 30 years, concentrating much of its efforts in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. At the beginning of the year, the bank announced a substantial expansion of its Middle East business and, in June, hired Ashraf Issa from American Express Bank as head of private banking in the region


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