Banks operating in Dubai in 1969

Dubai had two local banks and six foreign banks.

The first local bank was the National Bank of Dubai, set up in 1963, with capital of QDR 20 million. The main shareholders were the Ruler of Dubai, the National Bank of Kuwait, Bank of America and National and Grindlays, which provided the bank s management. The National Bank of Kuwait acted as central bank and was also the local office of the Qatar-Dubai currency board. This was the largest financial institution in the country.

The other local bank was the Bank of Oman, founded in May 1967, by the Ghoreiri brothers, who originated from Dubai. The Ottoman Bank provided the management until 1968.

The foreign banks were the British Bank of the Middle East, which first opened up in Dubai in 1946; First National City Bank of New York, which had been in Dubai since 1963; Eastern Bank, a subsidiary of Chartered Bank, in Dubai since 1965; Habib Bank (Overseas) Ltd and United Bank, two Pakistani banks with branches in Dubai since 1965; and Arab Bank Ltd, which established itself in the emirate in September 1967.

Kuwaiti Crown Prince and Prime Minister meet with Paribas

In April 1969, a Kuwaiti delegation visited France on an official state visit, led by the Crown Prince and Prime Minister H.H. Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. The French Prime Minister, Maurice Couve de Murville, first received the Crown Prince at a meeting on 15 April, and this was followed by a lunch with Bernard de Margerie, Paribas Deputy General Manager in charge of foreign affairs.

Invitation from the Emir of Bahrain

One of the most significant contacts in the 1960s between Paribas and the Gulf States was the official visit of the Emir of Bahrain, H.H. Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, to France in September 1969.

H.H. Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Emir of Bahrain was received by the French Prime Minister Jacques Chaban-Delmas, and invited to a lunch arranged by Paribas on 19 September. During the lunch, the Emir expressed his wish to see commercial and financial relations develop between France and Bahrain, and he invited Paribas repre- sentatives to go to Bahrain at their earliest convenience. The possibility of opening a Paribas branch in Bahrain was raised, and Paribas was advised to request authorisation to do so. The lunch s attendees also included H.R.H. Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Bahrain s Prime Minister, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and H.E. Sayed Mahmood Al Alawi, Minister of Finance. Paribas was represented by Michel François-Poncet, Bernard de Margerie, Gustave Rambaud, Claude Fromy and Jean-Jacques Michel. The French Ambassador to Kuwait, Paul Carton, also attended the lunch.

Paribas seeks the right strategy

Early in 1970, Paribas was still trying to decide on the most appropriate strategy to pursue in the Gulf region. Ongoing contact had been established with authorities, and a number of investment transactions had been concluded, but the Bank had as yet not carried out any sizeable deals anywhere in the Gulf States. Moreover, although Paribas had been the first French bank to show real interest in the region, other French competitors had since caught up.

Crédit Lyonnais had, for example, established itself in Kuwait and was already one of the largest banks in the country. In addition, in 1970, Crédit Lyonnais was behind the establishment of Union de Banques Arabes et Françaises (UBAF), a consortium bank in which it was the major shareholder alongside the central banks of several Arab States. Meanwhile, in April 1969, Société Générale and the Swiss Bank Corporation had set up the Banque Franco-Arabe d Investissements Internationaux.

43B N P PA R I B A S I N T H E G U L F S TAT E S A N D I T S C O N T R I B U T I O N T O T H E E C O N O M Y O F T H E R E G I O N