The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookies before using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

MENA’s financial sector landscape: The shape of things to come

Despite Gulf coffers brimming with oil cash and aggressive expansion by some of the region’s banks, inherent barriers to regional consolidation are set to limit fundamental change in the Middle East and North Africa’s financial sector landscape over the next five years. Alex Warren reports.

By Alex Warren

THE PAST FEW YEARS have been a fine time to be a banker in the Arab world. Across the region, banks have benefited from the liquidity springing from white-hot oil prices in the Gulf, as well as a thriving retail market and enticing project finance opportunities.

The pace of growth is astounding – “frightening” in the words of one Emirates analyst. According to the latest World Bank report on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, bank deposits rose at an average annual rate of 15% between 2002 and 2005, with resource-rich, labour-importing countries benefiting from more than $30 billion in new deposits every year.

Banks in Gulf Cooperation Council countries in particular have boomed. Almost all notched up record results in 2005; some doubled their profits, all enjoyed a return on equity well above 20% and in some cases in excess of 30%. A return on assets of 4% is not unusual.

Signs of a slowdown are now appearing, chiefly because of this year’s sharp corrections in Gulf stock markets, but growth elsewhere in the region – in North Africa, for instance – continues to run on, and few expect oil prices to do anything but remain high in the coming years.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree