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NBK faces greater competition from a new banking breed

Kuwait’s banking sector has seen many false dawns over the past 20 years, with only one real international player, National Bank of Kuwait, enduring. Now, however, other players are looking to make a real impression.


The offices of Global Investment House, one of Kuwait's leading investment companies, are decorated in a striking mix of bright blue, canary yellow and steel grey, a colour scheme that has even been picked up in the pictures on the walls.

This sort of vibrancy is not normally seen in the emirate's financial institutions, which have a preference for sober wooden panelling. The choice of a style more often seen in a modern design company is a conscious statement by Global's management.

"We want to show that we are different, young, aggressive and dynamic. People either like it or hate it but they always remember it," says Maha Al-Ghunaim, Global's vice-chairman and managing director.

She is an example of a new breed of dynamic investment banker - working in both the conventional and Islamic sectors - that is breathing new life into what until recently had become a moribund financial industry.

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