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Mashreq Bank's results for 1997 were the best in its 30-year history with gross profits, profit growth and prudential ratios all showing a significant improvement. Significantly this record of consistent profitability has been achieved even though, as a private bank, it has to compete in a market dominated by state-owned or supported financial institutions.

According to the Dubai-based bank's chief executive, Abdul-Aziz al-Ghurair, this may have been a blessing in disguise: "We were forced really to sweat for our business and because of that the customer can see the value we bring to the table. We are a tiger used to fighting in the jungle and have worked hard to bring in every piece of business we have. We now have the largest customer base in the UAE [United Arab Emirates] and the largest spread of deposits. Our conclusion is that there are benefits in not depending on the government as the one source of business."

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