It is a great honour for me to introduce this book, which tells the story of the commitment of BNP Paribas Group to the Gulf States. It is a tale of how economies, business and partnerships blossomed over 40 years ago, grew ever closer, multiplied and endured.

It is a story made possible by many men and women who played their part in the development of the banking group in this part of the world, either by working with BNP Paribas or with our much valued clients in the region. I would like to pay tribute to all of them.

The history of our presence in the Gulf States reveals how the BNP Paribas Group became involved very

early in the economic modernisation process of this region of the world and devoted the necessary resources to develop here. It seems that the Bank understood before many other financial institutions that the Gulf States would be successful in diversifying and developing their economies and integrating them into the global economic fabric.

As BNP Paribas developed its operations to reflect the changing needs and increasing sophistication of our clients, the decision was taken to extend our operations from the Gulf to the Middle East and Africa. Furthermore, we placed the Gulf at the centre of the bank s Middle East and Africa, Corporate & Investment Banking operations, which is led from our regional headquarters in the Kingdom of Bahrain. When the 2008-2009 economic crisis put pressure on international banks to scale back certain operations around the world, I am proud to say that BNP Paribas reflected on its long history in the region, and decided to continue taking the long-term view.

Although this book details our long history in the region, it is really just the first chapter. It traces some of the profound changes that the Gulf States have undergone. Their economies, which in the 1970s were based almost exclusively on oil revenues, have evolved and their leaders have shown considerable skill in planning economic development. The oil and gas industries are no longer the only sources of revenue, and today the Gulf States not only account for 40 percent of all known oil reserves, but are also home to some of the largest