Emirates NBD: Scale emerges from the culture clash

By:
Chris Wright
Published on:

Much has been said about the unfortunate timing of the Emirates NBD merger just before the global financial crisis, but what is often forgotten is just how challenging that merger would have been in any conditions.

The two banks were very different. National Bank of Dubai was pretty much an organically grown expansion of exactly the same bank it was in 1963. Sultan Al Owais – the pearls in the museum are mainly from his family’s collection – founded it with a group of merchants, together approaching the then-ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum with the idea of a first indigenous national bank (the nation in question being the emirate of Dubai, since the UAE would not be formed for another eight years) to compete with the British Bank of the Middle East, now HSBC. 

Al Owais brought in...