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Arab 100 1997: Good times hit the Gulf

With a rare combination of rising oil prices, bumper harvests and policy reforms lifting the economic fortunes of the Middle East, its banks enjoyed a good year in 1996. Tony Wynne and Anthony Christofides take a look at the top 100 Arab banks and assess their prospects for 1997.

Arab 100: The Full Rankings

Arab 100: Top 25 by return on assets

Arab 100: Top 25 by return on equity

Arab 100: Top 25 by total assets

Arab 100: Top 25 by net profit

Arab 100: The 25 worst performers

Arab 100: The 25 fastest-growing by increase in capital

For most banks in the Middle East, 1996 was a very good year. In the Gulf region, higher oil prices boosted government finances and accelerated economic growth. Recovery from drought in the Maghreb region and steady progress in reform programmes led to more private investments flowing into Egypt and Morocco.

Furthermore, economic growth in world markets, particularly the US economy, had a positive effect on banks' investment portfolios. Business confidence in the Middle East in general remains buoyant and 1997 is looking like another good year for the banks.

The Arab 100 table is once again dominated by the strong Saudi banks, with seven of the 12 Saudi banks among the top 12 players in the region.

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