client-facing activities. The result of this new approach was a solid base for growth, which created true regional competence centres, and guaranteed a higher level of transaction security. This, in turn, helped the branches cope with strong volume growth.

Mathieu Le Brigand, who was working at the Abu Dhabi branch, recalls the establishment of the regional hub. Gradually, the idea of regionalisation emerged. Until 2001, all branches were independent, reporting directly to Paris. The creation of a region, steered out of Bahrain, paved the way for another decade of growth, thanks to better governance and more efficient processes, achieved by sharing resources.

After an initial period in the Gulf as Chief Operating Officer in Riyadh, Mohamed Bakkal served as regional Chief Operating Officer from November 2005 to November 2007, and recalls Jean-Christophe Durand s role in the setup. Setting up the Region was mainly due to Jean-Christophe. It is to his great credit that the Bank was able to bring the teams together in a unique, intercultural environment and to generate around him the vitality and sense of challenge that were necessary for BNP Paribas to develop in the region.

Eric Cohu, who witnessed the main steps in the construction of the business in the region, agrees with his assessment. There s an old saying that the only wealth is men. That could well apply to the building of the Gulf region and specifically to the man who first had the idea. The fact is that it was Jean-Christophe Durand who built the region. He succeeded in bringing together and unifying a team of people in a collective project One region. One team and demonstrating the spirit, which was essential for this region to make its mark and grow.

2003: A good year

The BNP Paribas Gulf region had many reasons to be happy with its 2003 results. Figures for Retail Banking and Commercial Banking were up, new products had been successfully launched and relations with new clients had been formed and cemented. The ever- widening range of services on offer now included structured investment products, a whole range of treasury products for corporates, cash management solutions, credit cards and an e-banking service. 2003 also proved a successful year for the other businesses Project Finance, Corporate Finance, Fixed Income and Asset Management.

Michel Pébereau, Chairman of BNP Paribas, visited the Dubai and Abu Dhabi branches in September 2003, and also attended the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Dubai.

The Bank s market position in 2004

In 2004, Cédric Chatel was working as a financial analyst as part of the BNP Paribas Energy Commodities Export Project Financing team in Bahrain, and explains how the Bank

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