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Arab 100: Oil keeps recovery in Arab banking on track

Gulf institutions maintain their dominance of Euromoney’s rankings as growth continues for third successive year. Morris Helal reports.

Arab 100: The Rankings

SUSTAINED HIGH OIL prices underpinned robust economic growth in the Arab world during 2005, fuelling the property sector, stock markets and consumer demand. Despite corrections in many Arab stock markets in the first half of 2006, markets have since generally stabilized and most indices are above the end-2004 level. Some markets remain under pressure.

The road to recovery for the banking sector started in 2003, led by banks operating in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman. This had followed a difficult earnings environment in 2002.

A strong operating environment for a third successive year throughout the GCC in 2005 resulted in higher loan volumes and rising net interest and non-interest income, with the top 50 GCC banks recording a 61% increase in net profits on an aggregated basis, compared with 38% in 2004, 23% in 2003 and just 2% in 2002. The stronger performance produced an overall return on assets of 3.15% in 2005, compared with 2.13% in 2004. Return on equity rose to 22.1% from 19.2% in 2004. For the top 100 Arab banks, consolidated net profit grew by 64% in 2005 after a strong 42% in 2004.

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