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Private banking 2012: Middle East – Collateral damage

Local private banks in the Middle East are losing out as the region’s wealthy react to the Arab Spring.

The economic and political turmoil created by the Arab Spring and the eurozone crisis has created some clear winners in private banking over the past year as well as some clear losers. In the Middle East, local banks have been steadily ceding ground to their international rivals as the region’s wealthy turn to more complex international investments to shelter from turbulent markets.

The trend is apparent in most areas of private banking and in most countries and is particularly notable among the region’s richest customers. When it comes to providing banking services to ultra-high-net-worth customers, those with more than $30 million in investable assets, there are no local banks in the top five.

Overall, the clear leaders among the international banks are HSBC and Swiss banks Credit Suisse and UBS. They take the top three places in Euromoney’s survey, as they did last year, although HSBC has now overtaken Credit Suisse for top spot. US banks also make a strong showing while several other banks from the UK, France and Germany are in the running.

According to Rory Gilbert, head of international private banking for the MENA region at Barclays Wealth, international banks have been doing so well because of their global reach.

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