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Banks gear up for retail competition

Saudi Arabia’s banks are bracing for a period of intense retail competition by preparing to launch new products, especially for Islamic and internet banking, and developing personal and mortgage lending.

Mike de

Saudi Arabia's banks are bracing themselves for a period of intense competition as they fight to win a bigger share of a rapidly expanding but increasingly sophisticated retail market. To meet this challenge, they have rolled out or are preparing to launch new products, particularly for Islamic and internet banking, and to develop personal and mortgage lending.

"The banking sector is coming out of a phase, which has lasted slightly more than a year, when there was a lot of liquidity and not much action on the assets side. We are beginning to get into a situation where the demand for funding is picking up from both corporate and personal customers," says Mike de Graffenried, managing director of Saudi American Bank (SAMBA).

The 10 commercial banks in the kingdom are well placed to meet this demand. They are well regulated, among the best capitalized in the developing world, very liquid and profitable.

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