Mr. Arif Ali
Former CEO of Bank Muscat in Saudi Arabia
The opening up of Saudi Arabia's banking market to foreign companies was an opportunity not to be missed. One of many who entered it was Bank Muscat - with assets of over $15 billion easily the largest bank of the neighboring Sultanate of Oman.
The bank succeeded in getting a license in 2005. “Branch licenses for KSA have only been given out since 2004, and initially SAMA favored banks headquartered in the country's main trading partners: Deutsche Bank came first, then JP Morgan from the US, Paribas from France, followed by GCC banks,” explains CEO Arif Ali. “Only the largest bank of each country was accepted. Additionally, SAMA encouraged the banks to open full branches – rather than just private banking operations with minimal footprint.”
Opening a branch in KSA has provided the bank with access to the largest economy in the GCC: “Since opening in March 2007, our balance sheet has grown significantly every year,” enthuses Ali. 'This growth was quicker than we expected, especially during 2010, but then the government itself is investing in the economy, encouraging companies by investing their own money, and we benefited from that.”
Bank Muscat also benefited from the tight credit controls of the large local banks, which drove companies to the few banks still willing to lend them, in a targeted manner, the working capital they needed to expand their business. “Our core business is corporate banking. We specifically cater to the mid-size niche, which doesn't get as much personalized attention from the large banks here as they get from us.”
Bank Muscat’s strategy is particularly focused in the Gulf region. Apart from Saudi Arabia and its home country, where the bank has a market share of almost 40%, the bank has a branch in Kuwait, a subsidiary (BMI) in Bahrain and Qatar, and a representative office in the UAE. “KSA was a natural and logical expansion for us. It is the biggest economy of the GCC and an important trading partner for Oman. We consider ourselves a GCC bank,” says Ali, “although we have previously taken stakes in an Indian & a Pakistani bank, “he adds.
But the booming business is not the only reason why Ali is happy to bank in the kingdom: “Saudi customers are very well-informed. They are great entrepreneurs, very knowledgeable and involved in their business. Most of them are intimately involved in running their businesses.”
Our latest investment report on Kuwait was recently published in one of the leading Spanish dailies, ABC. FindMe in Kuwait explores the economic perspectives of Kuwait and the country´s future plans to compete with its fast developing neighbours. Once the leading country of the Gulf, Kuwait has remained silent for the past decade. And although many would like to see faster changes, Kuwait is moving, at its pace, to them. Inexorably. Learn about who is who in Kuwait and read what the leaders say about their own future in our upcoming release: FindMe in Kuwait Mobile app.
Stay tuned - Stay Ahead
Global Gulf Consulting has concluded its latest production on Bahrain, FindMe in Bahrain giving the country a fresh approach after a couple of difficult years of local demonstrations that matched the global recession. Bahrain is a small island in the Arabian Gulf with an incredible potential for logistics, industries and tourism. FindMe in Bahrain was supported by both the public and private sector of Bahrain. Banagas, Nass Corporation, BBK and DHL were GGC strategic partners in the development of the series among others.
FindMe in Bahrain is available at the local bookstores Jashamal and online as well as in the Apple Store. It is a full business leisure and business guide for any investor or visitor interested in traveling to Bahrain or for those that already live there.
FindMe in Saudi offers a multi-faceted overview combining business and leisure, economy and heritage. The book aims to capture the current development of Saudi Arabia in the words of the people who live and work there. It is an authoritative source of information for investors, businessmen and travellers produced to firmly position KSA as an attractive investment destination.
In contains general information about the country´ economic performance and who is who as a sectorial overview and a leisure guide.
They are talking about us. Read what the media is saying about GCC and its publications.
GLOBAL GULF CONSULTING
Po. Box 0097
Kuwait. +965 98801872
Spain: +34 646464770