Where are the Middle East's biggest banks?

  • 21st, November, 2018
Where are the Middle East's biggest banks?

GCC banks dominate the ranking of the biggest 100 Arab banks, as compiled by The Banker magazine and published in its October edition.

 GCC banks accounted for 84% of the Tier 1 capital of the biggest 100 banks, with Saudi banks accounting for 29% of the total and banks in the UAE accounting for 25%. 

The aggregate Tier 1 capital of the 100 banks was $326,184mn.

After Saudi and Emirati banks, Qatari banks account for 14% of the Tier 1 capital (although nearly half of this is due to Qatar National Bank), Kuwaiti banks account for 8%. 

The Banker’s list does not capture all Arab banks, although all domestically incorporated banks in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar are big enough to be included.  Strangely, two Kuwaiti banks, Boubyan and Warba are not included, even though their Tier 1 capital exceeds that of the 100thbank (Tunisia’s Banque Nationale Agricole, with $482mn).

Nine Bahraini banks are included in the Biggest 100, a fraction of the banks that a incorporated in Bahrain, although most of the active banks are captured. The two smallest Omani banks, Nizwa Bank and alizz, are not captured: they had equity of $340mn and $204mn at the end of 2017.

The biggest non-GCC bank is Jordan’s Arab Bank, the 19thbiggest with Tier 1 capital of $5,028mn. National Bank of Egypt ranks 26thwith $3,904mn, and Morocco’s Attijariwafa ranks 27thwith $3,822mn. 

Lebanon contributes 11 banks to The Banker’s biggest 100. They are led by Bank Audi, at 32, with Tier 1 capital of $3,534mn and Blom Bank, at 34, with $2,662mn. 

Perhaps surprisingly, The Banker’s ranking shows only one Algerian bank, Banque Nationale d’Agricole, at 47 with $1,924mn.

Tunisia contributes a single bank, Banque Nationale Agricole, at 50, with $482mn.

The Banker chose to include HSBC Bank Middle East, based in Dubai (22), Afreximbank, based in Egypt (42), and GFH Capital, based in Bahrain (64). The market share percentages given above (which are the Arab Bankers Association’s own calculations) exclude these three banks.

In its July 2018 edition, The Banker published its ranking of the biggest 1,000 banks in the world. This showed China’s ICBC as the biggest bank with Tier 1 capital of $324,126mn. First Abu Dhabi Bank and Qatar National Bank, each with a little over $20,000bn, were ranked 81stand 82nd.

No banks from Iraq, Libya or Yemen are included in The Banker’s rankings but that is hardly surprising. This correspondent (who can read Arabic) looked in vain for financial statements on the websites of two large Iraqi banks. Palestinian banks are small. Sudanese banks did not feature in The Banker's rankings. Bank of Khartoum, which professes to be the largest bank in Sudan, had equity of $371mn at the end of 2017, which would not have put it into the biggest 100 Arab banks. 

A reproduction of The Banker's listing is attached below as a pdf. I also have it as an excel chart, separated out by country. If you would like a copy of the excel chart, please email me at acunningham@arab-bankers.co.uk


The Banker biggest 100 Arab Banks