The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookiesbefore using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

What’s driving digitalization in the Gulf?

Photo: Getty

Banks in the Gulf are embracing blockchain, fintech, cryptocurrencies and AI as they look to cater to changing consumer demands and a rapidly evolving financial landscape.

The Middle East has seen the launch of several digital-only banks over the last few years, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and, to a lesser extent, Bahrain leading the charge. The licensing of digital-only players reflects the digital innovation targets set out in national development strategies, such as Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the UAE’s Smart Dubai. In turn, this is driving fintech opportunities across the region.

“Today, growth strategies are generally focused on initiatives at ecosystem level to foster innovation and development of fintechs, whether that be regulatory sandboxes or innovation hubs and accelerators,” says Serena Sebastiani, director of financial services for PwC Middle East specializing in covering fintech and open banking.

Indeed, digital transformation spending by Saudi Arabia alone reached SR12 billion ($3.19 billion) in 2021, according to the kingdom’s Digital Government Authority.

Saudi’s proactive stance has led to the introduction of laws covering a variety of fintech activities, including an instant payment system known as Sarie and the Capital Market Authority’s (CMA) fintech lab, all of which has given the investment community the confidence and certainty to devote more capital to fintech startups.


You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?


We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree