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.

Kuwaiti banking: Foreign players reap rewards

Ever since Kuwait amended its banking legislation in early 2004 to license foreign banks, outside players have continued to show confidence in a high-potential market.

By Alex Warren

Three foreign banks now have a concrete presence in Kuwait – BNP Paribas, which in late 2004 was the first to be granted a licence by the central bank; HSBC Middle East, which in October 2005 was the first to begin operations; and National Bank of Abu Dhabi, which registered late last year.

Citigroup will shortly join them after announcing in April that it had also been awarded a licence and would launch corporate and investment banking services from this month.

“It’s still early days to judge how the foreign banks are faring,” says Faisal Hasan, senior financial analyst at local brokerage and asset management firm Global Investment House. “But they were already implanted in the region and were actually dealing with Kuwaiti clients, whether corporate or high-net-worth individuals. Now they simply have a physical presence here.”

There is good reason why. Kuwait has mirrored other diminutive Gulf states in making concerted and expensive efforts to diversify away from revenues derived from oil, of which it holds about a 10th of world reserves. Analysts from the state’s largest bank, National Bank of Kuwait, predict a budget surplus of more than KD7 billion ($23.9

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