The dynamism of the time was captured by Daniel Bédin, Head of Export Finance Operations in the Paribas Department of Commercial Affairs and Foreign Banking Relations (DACRE): Since the new ruler came to power last August, Abu Dhabi has experienced a boom of the kind one might expect given its huge natural resources, Bédin wrote in his report.

A proliferation of banking in the emirates followed in the 1960s, as the region became increasingly linked with the global economy through increased trade and investment. Total banking assets in Dubai more than tripled between 1965 and 1968, as the ruler granted authorisation for foreign banks to establish branches. Meanwhile, a domestic banking industry was also starting to develop, with the National Bank of Dubai established in 1963, and the National Bank of Abu Dhabi created in 1968.

With Abu Dhabi increasing its oil revenues rapidly, and Dubai starting to flourish as a trading centre, the emirates were not only coming together politically, with the creation of the UAE in 1971, but also looking to deploy capital to develop the new country and make investments abroad.

Paribas President, Jacques de Fouchier, was determined that the Bank help to establish greater economic ties between the UAE and Europe.

In a letter dated 7 July 1972, he wrote to H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late President of the UAE, for authorisation to open a branch in Abu Dhabi. He supported his request with the following argument: The absence of a major French bank in Abu Dhabi certainly represents a serious handicap if we are to ensure the development of economic and financial relations between our two countries. Our Bank s traditions we have just celebrated one hundred years of banking our base in France and elsewhere in Europe and our eminent position on the international capital markets, all strengthen my conviction that our active presence in Abu Dhabi would also be a major advantage for the development of your country.

A year later, in August 1973, Paribas received a license to open a branch in Abu Dhabi, which was inaugurated in 1974.

In the interim period, Paribas President, Jacques de Fouchier, made courtesy calls to H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who was Deputy Prime Minister in the second UAE Federal Cabinet and would later succeed his father as ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the UAE. De Fouchier also met with H.E. Saif Saeed bin Ghubash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and H.E. Mohammed Habroush Al Suweidi, Minister of State for Finance and Industrial Affairs.

On 6 February, following these official visits, Jacques de Fouchier inaugurated the Abu Dhabi branch. The ceremony was presided over by H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Elie Saouaf, who had been appointed to manage the branch, ran a team of 10 people with the assistance of his deputy, Mahmoud Abdul Rahman.



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