On 6 February, following these official visits, the Abu Dhabi branch was inaugurated in a ceremony that was presided over by H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The branch began operations immediately under the leadership of Elie Saouaf, who had been appointed to manage a team of around 20 people, with the assistance of his deputy Mahmoud Abdul Rahman.

Opening of the Dubai branch

On 23 July 1974, the Dubai authorities granted a banking license to Paribas and the company s Dubai branch, managed by Omar Rifai, was inaugurated on 10 December. The opening was an important milestone for the Bank, given the Emirate s regional importance its financial market is one of the oldest commercial markets in the Gulf, boasting amongst other things, a large gold market. By 1974, it had also become a major oil supplier, with production reaching 12 million tonnes per annum.

Growth of economic relations between France and the Gulf States

Most of the countries in the region had by this time established a relationship of trust with France, and it was now time to proceed to economic agreements. In January 1974, Foreign Affairs Minister Michel Jobert had an audience with the Saudi sovereign. After the meeting, work began on drafting a framework agreement on co-operation between the two countries in the field of petrochemicals, refining and oil derivatives processing.

In December 1974, a delegation from the United Arab Emirates, led by H.E. Saif Saeed bin Ghobash, Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, travelled to France, where they met a number of French industrialists at the headquarters of the Conseil National du Patronat Fran├žais, the national confederation representing French company heads.

At the same time Norbert Segard, France s Secretary of State for Overseas Trade, visited Qatar, to meet H.H. Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar s Minister of Finance. Several French-Qatari co-operative projects were in development, including the expansion of a petrochemical complex and the extension of a desalination plant, along with a project to equip the airport at Doha with radar systems.

BANQUE DE PARIS ET DES PAYS-BAS PREMISES

IN ABU DHABI, 1970 S

49B 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