Banks in Dubai and the UAE
There are both foreign and local banks in Dubai and the UAE ready to look after your money, or lend you someone else's money. All dirhams lead back to the UAE Central Bank which governs and licences financial institutions in the UAE. Their website has a reasonably up to date list of banks operating in the UAE (updated annually or every 6 months?). Retail customers will usually head to one of the commercial banks or Islamic banks. There are two other types of bank categories - merchant or investment banks, and industrial banks.
Check with your company if they have any special arrangements with a particular bank in Dubai. Sometimes you may get preferential rates on money transfers, or lower minimum balance requirements. You may also see your salary a day or two earlier if you're at the same bank as the one your company uses.
All (or nearly all) banks in Dubai and the UAE will have a minimum balance requirement for a current account ranging from 1000 to 10,000 dhs. Update 28 Feb 2011: Central Bank rules changed and banks were limited to AED 3,000 minimum balance requirement, effective from March or April 2011? There's a monthly fee of 50-100 dhs if you go below that limit during the month - for most banks you only have to do that once to get hit with the fee. A savings account with a Dubai bank usually has a much lower, or no minimum balance requirement. Some banks also have a minimum salary requirement to operate a current account, of AED 10,000 or 20,000 per month.
Most people will eventually collect a story or two about poor customer service. What seems to happen is that you open an account at a bank (based on where your company banks, location, or what someone else suggests). Eventually you'll get annoyed with something they've done, close your account and repeat the process at another bank. Usually this only happens once every couple of years or so, so it's unlikely you'll run out of banks for this procedure.
New UAE Central Bank maximum limits on fees and loans - update 28 February 2011
Regulations Regarding Bank Loans & Other Services Offered to Individual Customers - published by the UAE Central Bank (dated 23 February 2011 but not released until 28 February 2011?).
The UAE Central Bank issued a statement detailing new borrowing limits and caps on fees charged by banks in the UAE. According to the document, "These regulations shall be published in the Official Gazette in both Arabic and English, and shall come into effect one month after date of its publication," but publication date was not supplied. The new rules replace Circular No 12/93 dated 23/2/1993, Central Bank clarifications ref. DMM/1263/93 dated 6/7/1993, and any other related notices except for Notice No 1850/2004 dated 14/6/2004 regarding Armed Forces Personnel. Some details of the new fee limits are:
- Personal loans allowed up to a maximum of 20x the monthly salary of the borrower.
- Maximum repayment period allowed for personal loans is 48 months (4 years).
- Car loan maximum of 80% of the value of the vehicle, with maximum repayment period of 60 months (5 years).
- Overall total limit on monthly repayments is 50% of a borrowers net income including salary and any other revenue. This includes personal loans, credit card repayments, home mortgages, car loans, any other financing.
- Credit cards to be issued only to customers earning a monthly salary of at least AED 5,000 (annual salary of AED 60,000), or "against a pledged deposit" of at least AED 60,000.
- Account opening fees - nil.
- Minimum balance - maximum of AED 3,000.
- Account balance below minimum account balance - AED 25.
- Standing order setup - maximum fee 50 dhs.
- Standing order payment dishonoured - 25 dhs fee.
- New chequebook - maximum 25 dhs (first one free?).
- Bank check issue fee (Manager's Cheque) - 30 dirhams.
- Bounced check fee - AED 100? But no charge if bouncing a cheque written to your self ("deposited in own account")?
- Account Balance Letter - AED 50.
- No Liability Certificate - AED 100.
- Release Letter - AED 50.
- Dormant Account charge - nil ("without fees").
- Teller fees - AED 10 per transaction but first 6 per month should be free.
- Pin code replacement fee AED 25.
- Account closing fee AED 100 (but only if bank account closed within 1 year of opening, unknown if any fee after 1 year or how much).
- Utility bill payments at teller - AED 10 per bill.
- Foreign currency transactions processing fee - 2% of the amount (unclear if maximum or fixed).
As of end February 2011, the UAE has 23 local and 28 foreign banks (total 51 banks). Total value of outstanding personal loans rose 3.9% in 2010 to AED 247 billion dirhams ($67 billion). Personal loans made up 24% overall loan amount (which implies a figure of AED 1,030 billion (AED 1.03 trillion) (Bloomberg 28 February 2011).
PDF download of new Central Bank rules and fees at www.centralbank.ae/en/pdf/notices/RegulationsRegardingBankLoans.pdf.
How many banks and branches in Dubai and UAE?
- Number of banks in UAE is 52 at end of 2009, unchanged from 2008 (24 UAE banks, and 28 foreign banks).
- Number of bank branches in the UAE increased by 10% in 2009 from 860 to 948 (includes head offices, banking service units, branches, etc) - from UAE Central Bank data report.
- Number of ATMs in the UAE increased 48% from 2,420 at end of 2008 to 3,599 by the end of 2009.
- Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) branches up from 44 to 52, and ATMs from 116 to 204 in 2009. Target for 2010 is 70 branches (comments by ADIB CEO Tirad Mahmoud, reported on 25 February 2010 in Emirates Business 24-7).
- RAK Bank opened 2 new branches and 12 ATMs in 2009 (comments by Graham Honeybill, General Manager of RAKBank in same report).
Other boring banking statistics for the UAE and the Financial Access 2010 report
- Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and the World Bank started producing in 2009 an annual report about financial services worldwide - Financial Access 2009, and Financial Access 2010 (publication date 14 September 2010?).
- Accounts per 1,000 adults in UAE - 1,751 (average deposit and loan value per account not available).
- Branches per 100,000 adults in UAE - 21.
- ATMs per 100,000 adults in UAE - 99, ATMs per 1,000 sq km - 43, Point-of-Sale (POS) machine figures not available.
- For headings of table information in the report appendices listed below, the UAE had few or no entries which could be taken as an indication that the financial industry is poorly regulated, or perhaps that the UAE doesn't think much of the CGAP and World Bank surveying and didn't give them any data.
- Aspects Under the Purview of the Financial Regulator
- Financial Inclusion: Areas of Reform in 2009
- Consumer Protection: Disclosure Requirements at Account Opening - No requirement for banks or financial institutions to provide standardised calculation of Annual Percentage Rate (APR), minimum balance requirement, information about fees or penalties, plain language explanation of terms and conditions, etc
- Consumer Protection: Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement by Supervisory Agency
- Consumer Protection: Requirements for Periodic Disclosure - No requirements reported for banks or financial institutions to provide periodic statements, fees and charges for deposit or credit products, except for a periodic reporting requirement for unregulated financial institutions.
- Consumer Protection: Fair Treatment, Dispute Resolution, and Recourse - No fair treatment provisions reported
- Small and Medium Enterprise Finance - no agency monitors SME lending, no definition of SME reported, no SME lending information reported
- Consumer Protection Legislation (Law) - none out of the 4 headings (General, Explicit, Financial Sector, Other) checked, and no comments (same as Bangladesh, Belarus, China, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Rwanda, Sudan, Yemen, and several Caribbean islands)
- Countries such as Botswana, Moldova, Mongolia had similar low levels of regulation as the UAE. It was difficult to find a country with any less regulation.
- Then again, maybe the report should be taken with a pinch of salt. Zimbabwe scored consistently higher than the UAE with respect to consumer protection and other regulation, but would you rather keep your money in a bank in Zimbabwe or the UAE?
Best banks in Dubai and UAE 2009
Ethos Consultancy released their 5th annual UAE banking survey results on 14 November 2009, covering 27 retail banks in the UAE. Ethos researchers visited bank branches 675 times, made 405 calls to call centers, and made 270 online enquires through bank websites. Best overall bank was RAK Bank (for the 4th year in a row), ahead of Dubai Bank in second place, and First Gulf Bank in third place.
||First place winner 2009
||First place 2008
|Best Overall Bank
||National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK Bank)
|Best International Bank
||Lloyds TSB Dubai (also in 2006-2008)
||Lloyds TSB Dubai
|Best Sharia Compliant (Islamic) Bank
||Emirates Islamic Bank
|Best Branch Visit Performance
|Best Call Center Performance
||First Gulf Bank
||Dubai Islamic Bank
|Best Website Performance
||First Gulf Bank (also in 2008)
||First Gulf Bank
|Most Improved Bank
||Dubai Bank (was in 21st place in 2008)
|Best New Bank
||Al Hilal Islamic Bank
Best banks in Dubai and the UAE 2008
Everyone has different opinions about whether a bank is any good or not, and any comments here should be regarded as subjective opinions only, but there is an organisation called Ethos Consultancy that surveys UAE banks. Results for their 4th annual survey were released in November 2008 (based on 1500 visits to 29 banks by Ethos researchers) and RAK Bank took the award as the best overall bank (for the 3rd year in a row). Both RAK Bank and First Gulf Bank scored highly on many of the individual survey criteria used by Ethos. But who surveys the consultants? Best and worst banks in some categories according to Ethos were:
- Best Bank Overall: RAK Bank (or National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah), followed by First Gulf Bank. Worst bank overall was United Bank Limited.
- Best Islamic Bank: Emirates Islamic Bank
- Best International Bank: Lloyds TSB Bank
- Best Call Centre Performance: Dubai Islamic Bank followed by First Gulf Bank and RAK Bank. Worst were Al Masraf Bank, Bank of Sharjah and Doha Bank
- Best websites and online services: First Gulf Bank and RAK Bank, followed Noor Islamic Bank. Worst were Al Masraf Bank, Emirates Islamic Bank and Commercial Bank International.
- Best New Bank: Al Hilal Bank
- Best for face-to-face customer interaction: RAKBank, National Bank of Dubai (NBD) and Commercial Bank. Worst were Bank of Sharjah and National Bank of Umm Al Quwain.
- Customer service improved noticeably at RAKbank, First Gulf Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Emirates Islamic Bank, Mashreq Bank, Commercial Bank of Dubai and Barclays Bank.
- Worst for customer service were HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and Citibank. Notably declining levels of customer service at National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), Union National Bank (UNB) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) (previously ABN Amro).
Overall UAE bank rankings (out of 29 banks surveyed by Ethos Consultancy):
- National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah (RAKBank)
- First Gulf Bank
- Emirates Islamic Bank
- Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
- Dubai Islamic Bank
- National Bank of Dubai
- Mashreq Bank
- Lloyds TSB Bank
- Commercial Bank of Dubai
- Al Hilal Bank
- Noor Islamic Bank
- Commercial Bank International
- Emirates Bank International (meBank)
- National Bank of Abu Dhabi
- Standard Chartered Bank
- HSBC Bank Middle East
- National Bank of Sharjah
- Union National Bank
- Dubai Bank
- Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) (formerly ABN Amro)
- Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
- Al Masraf
- Doha Bank
- National Bank of Umm Al Quwain
- Bank of Sharjah
- United Bank Limited
Checks (Cheques) in Dubai
Cash or credit cards are usually used for day to day transactions such as buying a few shawarmas, filling up the car (note that as of mid-2007, EPPCO, ENOC, and EMARAT service stations do not accept credit cards), or going to the furniture shop for a new sofa. Cheques are more likely to be used for bill payments and annoyingly, to secure credit cards and loans. A couple of important points to note about using checks in the UAE.
- Banks will normally ask you for a blank check as security against a credit card or personal loan. Sometimes a maximum amount can be written in. There's not much you can do about this except to go without a credit card and only take out car loans or home mortgages. Or buy your own bank and change the rules. If you know of any banks where this doesn't apply, fire away in the Dubai forum, or let us know.
- Bouncing a cheque in Dubai and the UAE is an offence that can land you in jail, and this is not one of those theoretical laws that is often ignored. People often do end up in the clink when the machine goes ka-boing instead of ka-ching. Company managers who have signing authority occasionally get caught out by this rule and are held in jail until a court case sorts things out.
Opening a bank account in Dubai
You'll usually need a residency visa first before you can do this although some banks will accept a letter from your employer saying that your residency visa has been applied for (your employer should be able to tell you which banks) or even a letter of introduction from a bank in your home country. HSBC is one bank apparently that does not require a residency visa to open an account (but you have to pay a fee of several hundred dhs). And NBAD UAE says on their FAQs page that non-residents can open an account as long as they appear in person with their passport "at any of our branches". But normally, you'd go to the bank of your choice with:
- Passport and copy.
- Another form of identification eg Driving License (and copy).
- Salary letter or certificate (especially if you want a credit card). You might not need this if you just want a savings account.
- Current accounts come with an ATM card and chequebook (checkbook) as standard.
Bank Loans in Dubai
- It's relatively easy to borrow money as a personal loan - and a lot cheaper than using a credit card. You will need a job with a regular salary or several months, at least, of company accounts and bank statements if self employed. Maximum loan amount will be up to 10-24 times your monthly salary.
- Different banks have different lists of approved companies. If you work for one of these, it may be easier or quicker to obtain a loan. Alternatively, not being in the list might mean no loan at all. Just try a different bank.
- You'll need at least passport & copies, salary certificate or letter (original - ask your company for one), possibly your employment contract. The bank will tell you exactly what you need.
- Auto loans are easier to arrange because the bank has ownership of the vehicle - you may not even need to have an account at the bank where you get the car loan. Interest rates are cheaper than for a personal loan. See the buying and selling cars in Dubai page for more information.
- See also information about home mortgages in Dubai if you want to finance a property purchase.
Online Banking in Dubai and online banking security
Most, if not all, banks by now offer online banking. The usual security risks apply and you should probably be a little more wary in Dubai than in other countries where the online banking industry is more established.
- Obtain the URL to the online site from an official bank source and type it in carefully. Remember that some scam sites register common typos and misspellings as domain names and put up a site that looks similar to a bank site to fool people into entering personal information.
- Don't EVER click on a link in an email to access your online account, and be very wary of clicking a link from search engine results to login to your account.
- Banks should NEVER ask you for account details and/or passwords in an email.
- Check the beginning of the URL says https:// (not http:// without the 's').
- Check there is a padlock icon somewhere near the lower right corner of your browser/screen/window.
- If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from your bank, they should not ask you for online account login details. If they do, don't give them. Banks do occasionally phone customers but it's probably only a matter of time before scammers start to do this to try and con people out of their personal information.
Bank Charges in the UAE (typical or average figures)
- Setting up an account: usually nothing
- Minimum balance in savings account: usually nil
- Minimum balance in current account: 1000-5000 dhs (one or two require 10,000 dhs). Update: minimum must be no more than AED 3,000 according to UAE Central Bank regulation (new)?
- Fee for going below minimum: 50-100 dhs in any month
- Loan processing fee: 1-1.5% of loan amount, minimum 250-500 dhs
- Early loan settlement fee: 1-5% of remaining balance (most are 5% - watch out)
- Loan clearance letter: 0-150 dhs
- No liability letter (needed for loan applications with other banks): 250-500 dhs
- Telegraphic transfer: AED 20-100 (overseas is usually AED 50-100)
- Bank cheque or Manager's cheque: AED 10-20
- Duplicate bank statement: AED 10-100
Sometimes fees are reduced if you have a higher minimum balance in your account, or have salary transferred to your account, or pay a set fee per month to become a VIP / Privilege / Status customer (about 100 dhs for economy level VIP status).
List of Foreign Banks with 'branches' in Dubai and the UAE
Branches of foreign banks are not actually branches or subsidiaries - they're set up as separate entities from the mother bank and are run independently, with a license from the UAE Central Bank (there was apparently a UAE law imposed in 1982 banning the setting up of subsidiaries of foreign banks - it may be revoked one day). Foreign banks are subject to 20% corporation tax on their profits in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah, local banks have no tax liability in the UAE.
There might be some benefits if you go to the same bank in Dubai as you use in your home country - transfers might be easier, cheaper and quicker for example. Just check if there is a branch in a convenient location for you since many in this list only have one or two branches in the UAE. One advantage in dealing with a local bank is the greater number of branches in Dubai and the UAE.
See below the local bank section for representative offices of foreign banks (not the same as a bank).
- ABN-Amro Bank - branches in Bur Dubai, Sharjah (Al Durrah Tower, Buhaira Corniche - moved from King Faisal St, as of 12 May 2007), tel +971-4-3080000
- Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait Abu Dhabi (ABK-AUH), first AUH branch opened 25 January 2009.
- Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait Dubai (ABK-DXB), branch established 1986. ABK established in Kuwait 1967.
- ANZ Grindlays Bank (joined with StanChart Bank?)
- Arab African International Bank (Egypt), branches in Abu Dhabi (tel +971-2-6323400) and Dubai (tel +971-4-3937773), www.aaibank.com.
- Arab Bank
- Axis Bank (India) - branch moved to DIFC. Location is Unit 701, 7th Floor, Al Fattan Currency House Office Building, DIFC. Official opening announced in press release 02 May 2010.
- Bank Melli Iran
- Bank of Baroda BoB (India), branches in Abu Dhabi, Deira, Sharjah. BoB electronic banking unit opened in Mussaffa in 2008. Opening hours 8am to 1pm and 4pm to 8pm (extended Nov 2007). The only Indian bank operating in the UAE?
- Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (wholesale bank license issued 15 December 2008), not a retail bank, plans to open a branch in Abu Dhabi.
- Bank Saderat Iran
- Banque du Caire
- Banque Libanaise pour le Commerce (pour Commerce?)
- Barclays Bank - www.barclays.ae, tel 800-22725297, branches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi (18 June 2008 open).
- BCCI (SA) Luxembourg (Bank of Credit and Commerce International)
- 04 Jul 2013 (WAM) - completion of liquidation of UAE branches of BCCI officially announced. Global Liquidator of BCCI (SA) Luxembourg is Mr Jacques Delvaux. Liquidation in accordance with Chairman of the Board of Directors decision No- 01/2013, issued on 27/6/2013, regarding closure of liquidation of BCCI (SA) branches in the UAE, with effect from 30/6/2013.
- BNP Paribas
- Citi Bank / CitiBank - www.citibank.com. UAE network has 50 ATMs, 5 branches including Bur Dubai opposite Al Khaleej Center and Jebel Ali, 4 customer service centers or Electronic Banking Units (EBUs) - Al Heel Tower Abu Dhabi, Al Rigga Palace Dubai, Marina Heights Towers next to Marina Walk in Dubai, and Crystal Plaza in King Faisal Street Sharjah. UAE CEO and Middle East Managing Director is Mohammad Al Shroogi (information from 22 June 2007). Update (24 February 2010 press release): Citibank Jebel Ali Financial Center opened, near Dubai Metro at The Galleries, the 6th Citibank Financial Center in the UAE.
- Commerzbank AG, Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), investment bank for corporate and institutional clients.
- Credit Agricole Indosuez
- Deutsche Bank (wholesale bank license issued 15 December 2008), not a retail bank, plans to open a branch in Abu Dhabi.
- Doha Bank - first UAE branch opened in Dubai July 2007. Update 20 Nov 2013: Doha bank has full branches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and opened a representative office in Sharjah in Nov 2013.
- El Nilein Bank (Sudan bank, branch in Abu Dhabi only?).
- Habib Bank AG Zurich - www.habibbank.com
- Habib Bank Limited
- HSBC Middle East - www.hsbc.ae - mixed reports. Some customers are happy, some unhappy. Don't get caught by the office on Jumeirah Beach Road - it's a representative office of their offshore bank (Guernsey?), not a branch of HSBC UAE. That means they can't do your UAE HSBC transactions. HSBC on Jumeirah Beach Rd closed in 2010? HSBC is well established in the Middle East but Dubai branches are only in Bur Dubai (parking is difficult), or Jebel Ali, and there's a customer service centre in Mercato Mall on Jumeirah Beach Rd (which means they'll smile, offer to help you, and then tell you to go to one of the other branches to do whatever it is you need to do).
- IndusInd Bank (India) representative office in Dubai, and has an alliance with Union National Bank in the UAE.
- Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) - applied to open branch in Dubai (Oct 2007 news). ICBC Middle East branch open in Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) October 2008. Wholesale bank license issued 15 December 2008.
- Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI Bank Ltd) - received a licence from the DFSA to operate in DIFC, announced in 03 June 2010 press release.
- Intesa Sanpaolo (Dubai branch)
- Janata Bank (Bangladesh) - 4 branches in the UAE?
- Lloyds TSB Middle East (Lloyds Bank PLC) - useful as it's open all day, six days a week at main branch in Jumeirah. Customer service centers locations in Arabian Ranches, DHCC (Dubai Healthcare City), Green Community, Jebel Ali, Mirdiff. Update: bought by HSBC and rebranded, Lloyds customers automatically become HSBC customers which annoyed the ex-HSBC customers who'd moved to Lloyds because they'd had enough of HSBC ... Irony in Dubai strikes again.
- National Bank of Bahrain
- National Bank of Oman
- Rafidain Bank (Iraq), www.rafidain-bank.org (Arabic, UAE branch not listed - Dec 2006).
- Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) - open 10 September 2008 on Bank Street, Bur Dubai.
- Standard Chartered Bank, www.standardchartered.ae - mixed comments. New branch open in The Dubai Mall announced 16 March 2010, opening hours 1000-2000 Sat-Thu and 1400-2000 on Fri. Online account opening facility announced 08 January 2012. Has 11 branches in the UAE as of January 2012.
- Standard Chartered Grindlays Bank - same as ANZ Grindlays (Australia New Zealand)?
- United Bank Limited (UBL) (Pakistan) - not the same as United Arab Bank (a UAE bank). Branches in Dubai - Deira, Dubai - Bur Dubai (open 1969), Dubai - Al Barsha, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi Khalifa St (open 1967), Abu Dhabi Sheikh Hamdan Rd, Musaffah (Mussaffah), Al Ain. Website www.ubldirect.com. No toll-free or local landline number supplied. Expensive toll telephone number is 600-533335 in UAE, or +971-600-533335 from outside UAE.
- YES Bank (India)- has a partnership with MashreqBank to offer Global Indian Banking Services to Mashreq Gold customers.
Local and Foreign Banks planning to open in Dubai and UAE
- Ahli United Bank (AUB), Bahrain - comment in Reuters report Jan 2008 that AUB intend to open branches in the UAE. No time frame given.
- Al Ahli Bank Kuwait plans to open branches in Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah (25 Jan 2009 press release). ABK branches already in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
- Al Hilal Islamic Bank (Crescent Islamic Bank) - Abu Dhabi based bank established July 2007 and first branches opened June 2008
- China Construction Bank - plans to open branch in Dubai (mentioned in 20 December 2007 news from Reuters).
- Crescent Islamic Bank - see Hilal Islamic Bank
- Doha Bank (Qatar) - planning to open UAE branch or branches (mentioned in Reuters news 20 December 2007), licence awarded late 2007.
- Emirates NBD - merger of Emirates Bank International and National Bank of Dubai announced April 2007. However, the merger has ended up with ENBD as a holding company while EBI and NBD continue to operate as separate entities from the perspective of the customer.
- Faisal Private Bank - a Swiss private bank for rich people, perhaps in 2008 in Dubai (Reuters 04 Feb 2008).
- Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) - planning to apply to open a representative office.
- International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) - representative office license granted Dec 2007. Opening date unknown.
- Kenanga Investment Bank, Malaysia - planning to operate Sukuk financing and a brokerage service through Mena Financial Group.
- National Bank of Azerbaijan (NBA) - Representative Office expecting to be registered mid-2007.
- National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) says they will open branch if/when UAE Central Bank awards a license (July 2007 news).
- Noor Islamic Bank (NIB) - 02 January 2008 start - see below in UAE banks list for more information.
- Oceanic Bank International (Nigeria)
- Oriental Bank of Commerce (India) - plans to open a branch in DIFC by 2013 (Reuters 19 November 2010).
- Samba Banking Group of Saudi Arabia - bank licence issued late 2007
- State Bank of India (SBI) - if they can get a UAE bank licence. Emirates Business report 12 May 2009 says SBI have been trying (unsuccessfully) for many years to get one. SBI opened an office in DIFC in May 2009?
- The Federal Bank Ltd or Federal Bank of India (India) - opening a Representative Office in Abu Dhabi (Aug 2007 news, opening date unknown)
- The Union Bank of India (India) - expecting to open a Representative Office in Abu Dhabi by Dec 2007. Approval has been issued.
GCC banks and Arab Banks - possibly with branches in the UAE
- CIB - Commercial International Bank Egypt - www.cibeg.com
- GFH - Gulf Finance House - www.gfhouse.com
Other banks with connections to the UAE
- EGIBL (or EGIB) - Emirates Global Islamic Bank Limited, despite the name, is a Pakistan based bank with no branches in the UAE. The UAE based Emirates Investments Group, through its financial subsidiary Emirates Financial Holdings, is the sponsoring shareholder of EGIB. EGIB operations commenced in February 2007. Web www.egibl.com.
List of UAE based banks - local, not overseas
Branches usually in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Possibly also in Ajman, Al Ain, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Dibba, Kalba, Khorfakkan, Ruwais. Websites given for information only. You should not use these for online banking login. Usually a domain ending in .ae is a little less risky than .com since it is more difficult to register a .ae domain name. Many banks have registered both the .ae and .com version of their names, but not all. Emirate of head office in brackets.
- Abu Dhabi Real Estate Bank - see Real Estate Bank
- ADCB - Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (Abu Dhabi) - www.adcb.ae - expanding its network of branches in the UAE. As of Oct 2006 40 branches, 100 ATMs, 24 hr tel 8002030, home mortgage finance available.
- ADIB - Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (Abu Dhabi) - www.adib.ae
- Al Bashayer Investment Company - investment bank in Abu Dhabi? Run by women, for women? Tel +971-2-4418800.
- Al Hilal Islamic Bank - same as Hilal Islamic Bank
- Ajman Bank / Ajman Islamic Bank. Expansion plans curtailed due to 2008 financial meltdown. First branch opened in Ajman December 2008. Plans to open 8 branches in 2009 (originally planned to open 15), 6 in 2010, 6 in 2011 (13 April 2009 Reuters report). Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is Yousif Khalaf.
- Al Noor Islamic Bank - same as Noor Islamic Bank
- Arab Bank for Investment and Foreign Trade (ARBIFT), www.arbift.com ok, www.ardift.ae gives DNS error. Rebranded as Al Masraf Bank tel 800-2199, Government owned. Official website is www.al-masraf.ae. Bad URLs www.al-masraf.com is spam, www.almasraf.com and www.almasraf.ae give DNS errors, www.almasrafbank.com is not valid.
- AEI Bank - Arab Emirates Investment Bank PJSC (Dubai) - www.aeibank.com
- BOS - Bank of Sharjah - www.bankofsharjah.com (Sharjah)
- CBD - Commercial Bank of Dubai - www.cbd.ae (Dubai)
- CBI - Commercial Bank International - www.cbiuae.com (Ras Al Khaimah), tel 8004844.
- Central Bank of the UAE - www.centralbank.ae (Abu Dhabi, tel +971-2-6652220), branches in Dubai, Sharjah, RAK, Al Ain, Fujeirah/Fujairah. Not a retail bank. Develops UAE banking, credit and monetary policy, is banker and financial advisor to the UAE Government and central bank for the UAE.
- Crescent Bank - same as Hilal Islamic Bank
- Dubai Bank - www.dubaibank.ae (Dubai). Established September 2002, became an Islamic bank (Shari'a compliant) 01 January 2007, taken over by Emirates NBD in October 2011.
- Dubai First - www.dubai-first.com (Dubai). A consumer finance subsidiary of Dubai Holding offering credit cards, mortgage finance and personal loans.
- DIB - Dubai Islamic Bank (Dubai) - web www.dib.ae or www.alislami.ae (Dubai)
- Emirates Bank Group - umbrella stand for EBI, EIB, meBank, and MEB.
- EBI - Emirates Bank International - www.emiratesbank.ae (Dubai). From November 2006, extended opening hours from 0800-2100 at some locations: Umm Suqueim, Sahara Mall and Sharjah City Mall in Sharjah, Mall of the Emirates (opened late 2006, hours 1000-2100), Ajman in the Escape Tower (open Nov 2006). From June 2007 open 0800-2000 in Dubai Festival City, Trade Center, Mizher, Mirdiff and Green Community branches Saturday to Thursday. Ramadan opening hours (2007) 1000-2100 at Sharjah City Center & Mall of the Emirates, 0900-2100 at the Umm Sequeim Branch on Al Wasl Road, and Al Shindagha Market Branch. New branches (26 Jan 2008) Old Town Dubai, Dubai Healthcare City.
- EIB - Emirates Industrial Bank www.emiratesindustrialbank.net (Abu Dhabi, branch in Dubai), chairman Dr Mohammad Khalfan Bin Kharbash (Minister of State for Industry and Financial Affairs), arranges finance for UAE industrial organisations. Not a retail bank. 100% owned by UAE Ministry of Finance (19 October 2009 press release - MOF bought remaining 49% stake from other organisations).
- EIB - Emirates Islamic Bank - websites www.emiratesislamic.ae and www.emiratesislamicbank.ae (Dubai). Bur Dubai and Khaleej Center branches open 0800-2000 Sun-Thu and 0800-1300 on Sat. Other branches open 0800-1500 but might also start to open extended hours.
- Update 21 Nov 2013 - Emirates Islamic Bank rebranded as just Emirates Islamic so you don't know it's a bank anymore (also Emirates Islamic Group according to new website).
- According to the press release, deciding to remove the word "bank" from the name wasn't as simple as it might seem - The new name is part of a comprehensive rebranding exercise undertaken by the bank that reflects its modern, more vibrant, and customer-focused approach. The new branding was the result of more than 12 months of market research and collated work with customer focus groups. The brand was designed with a focus on simplicity and complete customer centricity.
- The CEO of Emirates Islamic Ba..., er Emirates Islamic, Jamal bin Ghalaita said in the press release that "The vibrant, distinctive new brand reflects both our unique position as a partner and advisor to our customers, as well as the simplicity and transparency that is at the heart of who we are as an organisation." We said "huh?"
- So there you go, all those customers who thought "Emirates Islamic Bank" was too complicated and confusing will no doubt appreciate the much simpler "Emirates Islamic". Funny, to us it just sounds like it got abruptly cut off when saying it out loud, but then we don't even know what "customer centricity" means. Website still available at www.emiratesislamicbank.ae.
- Emirates Money - consumer finance company subsidiary of Emirates NBD.
- Emirates NBD - new bank formed by the merger of Emirates Bank and National Bank of Dubai in 2007.
- FGB - First Gulf Bank - www.fgb.ae (Abu Dhabi).
- FH - Finance House - branches in Abu Dhabi (head office), Dubai, and Sharjah (open early 2010). Dubai branch relocated on Sheikh Zayed Rd (moved about 1 km) October 2010. Chairman of FH is Mohammed Al Qubaisi (Alqubaisi). Investment services provided by subsidiary FH Capital. Opening hours 0800-1700 Saturday to Thursday.
- Hilal Islamic Bank - established July 2007, first branches opened June 2008. Not related to the Al Hilal Islamic division of Ahli United Bank in Bahrain.
- Invest Bank - www.invest-bank.com (Sharjah)
- Mashreq Bank (Dubai) - www.mashreqbank.com, one of first banks to be open in the afternoons, has a large number of branches around the UAE. Renamed as just Mashreq.
- meBank - (Dubai) a internet banking subsidiary of EBI - www.me.ae. Not the same as Middle East Bank (MEB), although MEB is also a subsidiary of EBI.
- MEB - Middle East Bank (Dubai) - www.meb.ae - part of Emirates Bank Group.
- NBAD - National Bank of Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi) - www.nbad.ae - one
of the largest UAE banks.
- NBD - National Bank of Dubai (Dubai) - www.nbd.ae
- NBF - National Bank of Fujairah (Fujairah/Fujeirah) - www.nbf.ae. Jan 2008 - new Jebel Ali branch, 11 in UAE, 4 more by end 2008.
- NBQ - National Bank of Umm Al Quwain (UAQ or Umm/Um Al Qaiwain/Qawain/Quwain) - www.nbq.ae
- NBS - National Bank of Sharjah (Sharjah) - renamed to Sharjah Islamic Bank
- Noor Bank (was Noor Islamic Bank, NIB) - subsidiary of Dubai Holding, established in 2007 (Dec 2006 news) with AED 4 billion of capital. CEO Hussain al-Qemzi. Operations start 02 January 2008 with 10 branches in the UAE. Dubai branches: Al Fattan Tower, Al Garhoud, Al Mamzar, Bur Dubai near Burjaman Center, Dubai Media City, on Sheikh Zayed Road (between Crowne Plaza and Defense Roundabout). Other branches in Abu Dhabi (Al Mansoori Tower), Al Ain, Sharjah (Al Bohairah & Al Rolla). Tel +971-4-3627300, website www.noorbank.com. Updated 07 Jan 2014 - rebranded as Noor Bank, press release said it still remains an Islamic bank but seemed to say they wanted to make it less obvious so they could market themselves to all customers, not just ones who wanted to bank with and Islamic bank.
- RAK Bank - National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) - www.rakbank.ae - seems to be quite a popular choice with good reports. Claim a best bank rating for customer service from Ethos International (Nov 2006 advertisements) but, strangely, EI is a US based NGO (Non-Government Organisation) trying to improve supply of clean water for children around the world.
- REB - Real Estate Bank (or UAE Real Estate Bank) - Abu Dhabi based bank established in 1981 but didn't commence operations until 1999. Capital of AED 2 billion, fully owned by the Government. The Bank facilitates real estate credit in the UAE for UAE nationals, establishments, companies and cooperative societies. Website www.realestatebank.ae.
- SIB - Sharjah Islamic Bank (Sharjah) - www.sib.ae - previously known as National Bank of Sharjah, NBS. New headquarters officially opened by HH Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Ruler of Sharjah in January 2010. Located on the Khan Corniche, in the first nine floors of a 30 floor tower (remaining floors are residential) built at a cost of AED 300m (press release 06 January 2010).
- UAB - United Arab Bank (Sharjah) - www.uab.ae
- UAE Central Bank - www.centralbank.ae
- UNB - Union National Bank (Abu Dhabi) - www.unb.ae
List of representative offices of overseas and foreign banks in the UAE
This list may overlap with the list of foreign banks in the UAE eg HSBC has a bank presence with branches in most emirates, and also has a representative office on Jumeirah Beach Road in Dubai not connected with the UAE branches. You cannot do your normal UAE based banking activities at a representative office (representative offices cannot handle cash and teller transactions) but they might have an ATM.
- American Express Bank
- Abbey National PLC
- Aberdeen Asset Managers Ltd
- AG Assets Management International
- Andhra Bank (India)?
- Arab Banking Corporation BSC (ABC) - www.arabbanking.com, large Bahrain based bank with a representative office in Abu Dhabi (tel +971-2-6447666).
- Axis Bank - in DIFC
- Banque Libano Française (BLF) (Lebanon) - representative office in Abu Dhabi, opening announced 20 February 2010.
- Bank of America
- Bank Brussels Lambert
- Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait
- Bank of Beirut and the Arab Countries (BBAC s.a.l.), open 20 December 2008, location Mourour Street, C60 Building, PO Box 41840, Abu Dhabi, Tel +971-2-4461516/517, fax +971-2-4461518, web www.bbac.com.lb.
- Bank of New York
- Bank Muscat
- Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd (BTMU) - office in Abu Dhabi. DIFC license received Aug 2007.
- Bank Gesellschaft Berlin AG
- BNP Paribas
- Clearstream Banking SA
- Coutts & Co
- Credit Lyonnais
- Credit Suisse
- Creditanstalt AG
- Deutsche Bank AG
- Dresdner Bank AG
- The Equitable Life Assurance Society
- Falcon Private Bank Abu Dhabi - representative office scheduled to open in Abu Dhabi in April 2011. Located in Das Tower on Abu Dhabi Corniche. Owned by Aabar Investments since 2009. Headed by Gregor Hubler (press release 29 March 2011).
- Falcon Private Bank Dubai - representative office opened in 2008.
- Fidelity Investments International
- First Union National Bank
- Gulf International Bank
- HDFC Bank Representative Office, 104 Al Kifaf Commercial Bldg, Trade Centre Road, opposite Bur Juman Centre, PO Box 64546, Dubai. Tel +971-4-3966991, fax +971-4-3967010. NRI services.
- The Housing Bank for Trade & Finance
- HSBC International Ltd
- Indusind Bank (India) - representative office in Dubai, associated with Union National Bank in Abu Dhabi
- Investment Bank for Trade & Finance
- Kuwait Interests for Financial Investments
- Merrill Lynch Bank Suisse
- Man Investment Products Ltd
- Nationwide International Ltd
- Natexis Banque - BFCE
- Philippine National Bank
- Prudential-Bache International Ltd - can't find it mentioned on www.prudential.com, the Prudential Financial website (Dec 2006).
- Punjab National Bank, India - licence to operate in DIFC received, CEO of PNB Dubai DIFC is Mr Raj Kumar Nair (press release 06 Jan 2010).
- Qatar Islamic Bank
- Royal Bank of Canada
- RBS International offshore banking office (different from Royal Bank of Scotland on Bank St, Bur Dubai?). Open April 2008 (date unconfirmed), closed August 2009.
- Salmon Smith Barney Inc
- Scottish Widows International Ltd (Scottish Widows Int'l Ltd).
- Societe Generale Bank
- Standard Bank London Ltd
- State Bank of India (SBI) - UAE Central Bank licence application attempted but refused for years (EB report 12 May 2009). DIFC office - full banking licence received from DFSA (the DIFC regulator) (press release 15 September 2009), SBI-DIFC CEO is AJ Vidyasagar. Website www.sbi.ae.
- State Street Bank & Trust Company
- Tempelton Worldwide Inc
- Towry Law Asia HK Ltd (office closed?)
- UBS AG
- Union Bancaire Privee
- Union des Banques Arabes et Francaises
- Unit Trust of India
- United Bank of Kuwait
- Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale
Credit Cards in the UAE
Banks will fall over themselves to try and give you a Visa or Mastercard credit card and they're relatively easy to obtain but you do need:
- a job with a regular salary, or income records for several months at least if self employed.
- bank statements for 3-6 months.
- residence visa.
Most standard cards will be free or cost 100 dhs per year. Gold cards are free to 400 dhs per year and Platimum cards 500-1000 dhs per year. Some banks offer "free-for-life" cards of all types, other banks will give you home theatre systems, toasters, or other useful home appliances, car beakdown service memberships, discounts on meals and hotel rooms, travel services including insurance, transport to airport, airport lounge access, airmiles. To become a victim ... er recipient of these wonderful promotions, just write down your mobile number anywhere it's asked for, throw a few business cards into those goldfish bowls at restaurant reception areas and you should be in a telephone promoter's database in no time.
Be careful of hidden or obscure fees and charges, and opt-in services where you are opted in by default. For example things like personal accident insurance, credit card repayment insurance. The UAE credit card market is not regulated in the same way as in the US or Europe so banks can get away with less consumer-friendly and more profitable-for-shareholders activities. Credit card limits will usually be 1-3 times your monthly salary. Late payment fees will usually be 50-100 dhs for each month payment is late.
Outdated information, needs update
Some bank credit card deals and charges are (quoting APR - Annual Percentage Rate - calculated as the monthly rate applied repeatedly without paying off any principal but ignoring late or non-payment charges). Information valid December 2006 unless otherwise stated.
- ABN Amro Jul 2007 - NRIs can get a MasterCard with free monthly money-remittances, life insurance, free domestic flights on Kingfisher Airlines, rent-free mobile SIM cards, and discounts at selected Indian restaurants.
- ABN Amro Nov 2006 - APR 34.3%, 2.49% monthly, annual fees 200-400 dhs.
- CBI (Commercial Bank International) Oct 2006 - APR 16.1%, monthly 1.25%, "free-for-life" zero annual fees.
- CBD (Commercial Bank of Dubai) Nov 2006 - APR 19.6%, 1.5% per month, annual fees 100-400 dhs.
- Citibank Nov 2006 - APR 34.3%, 2.49% monthly, 250-3000 dhs annual fees.
- FH (Finance House) Nov 2006 - special offers include auto insurance from 3.25%, "free-for-life" zero annual fees, 1.25% monthly interest on balance transfers, free annual subscription to Gulf News, Inside Out, and Aquarius publications. Offer expires 31 December 2006.
- HSBC Nov 2006 - APR 30.6%, 2.25% per month, 150-400 dhs annual fees, gold card holders get free one way chauffer drive if tickets booked with Thomas Cook, airport lounge access and extra airmiles.
- Lloyds TSB Nov 2006 - APR 12.5%, 0.99% per month.
- me Bank Oct 2006
- Standard & Chartered Nov 2006 - APR 42.4%, 2.99% per month, annual fee 150-600 dhs.
- RAK Bank Nov 2006 - APR 17.5%, 1.35% per month, "free-for-life" no annual fees, sometimes promotions for winning cars or a big pile of money.
Last update Tuesday 15-Jul-2014