Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

ADIB heads to Iraq as trail-blazer for Emirates

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank will become the first Emirati bank with a presence in Iraq when it opens a branch in Baghdad next month.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) will become the first Emirati bank with a presence in Iraq when it opens a branch in Baghdad next month. The company plans to open other branches across Iraq. "We'll have a branch in every major business city," said Hussain Qaragholi, a senior vice president at ADIB and the company's head of Iraq business.

Construction of the first Baghdad branch is under way, and the Central Bank of Iraq has given ADIB a preliminary licence. "The next branches we're looking for is Basra, Erbil, Najaf, Karbala, and eventually Mosul," Mr Qaragholi said yesterday at an Iraqi Business Council conference in Abu Dhabi. Iraq's banking sector continues to be dominated by public entities such as Rafidain Bank and Rashid Bank, as they control 85 per cent of the transactions in the country, while private banks account for 15 per cent. There are 36 local banks in the country, according to the Central Bank website.

Several foreign banks - including Capital Bank of Jordan, HSBC, National Bank of Kuwait and Ahli United Bank of Bahrain - have already set up in Iraq, but they have entered through partnerships with local banks. In the past, foreign banks shied away from opening branches under their own names because of security concerns. ADIB is only the second foreign bank to enter the market by starting a branch from scratch rather than through a partnership.

The first foreign bank to open a branch in Iraq was Byblos Bank of Lebanon, said Wassim Jazrawy, the head of Al Karmal Stock Exchange, a brokerage company in Baghdad. ADIB's entry into the market was "a good and timely decision", Mr Jazrawy said. The financial sector accounts for 80 per cent of shares traded on the Iraq Stock Exchange. Iraq's banking sector suffered from years of isolation during the rule of Saddam Hussein and still lacks strong links with the outside world.

Mr Qaragholi, an Iraqi-American, said bankers in Baghdad thought they could run the sector alone after the US invasion in 2003, but now realised the benefits of opening to foreign participation. ADIB planned to invest in power generation and oil services, he said. The property and manufacturing sectors are potentially attractive to investors, but accurate and detailed feasibility studies would be required, Mr Qaragholi added.

Foreign banks are hoping to capitalise on economic growth driven by rising oil production in Iraq. ADIB shares rose 3.2 per cent to Dh2.84 yesterday on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. "The financial sector in Iraq is one that has remained in the shadows against the global financial crisis," Mr Qaragholi said. halsayegh@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Miele coffee maker making Cappuccino at Miele Gallery in Sama Tower in Dubai. The cost of this coffee maker is around Dh 17,000. Pawan Singh / The National

Space-age coffee comes at a price from Miele

Miele have taken the coffee machine to a new level with its Dh17,000 offering that is built into your kitchen.

 The bridge of Seajacks Hydra, as the wind farm installation vessel undergoes finishing touches and testing works at Lamprell’s Hamriyah facility in Sharjah before its planned delivery on June 2, 2014. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

In pictures: Building the Seajacks Hydra

The Seajacks Hydra, a wind farm installation vessel, is undergoing finishing touches and testing works at Lamprell’s Hamriyah facility in Sharjah before its planned delivery on June 2, 2014.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 The rush of new supply of hotel rooms pushed Dubai occupancy rates down to 87 per cent. Sarah Dea / The National

Dubai hotel room rates rise 10 per cent

The rush of new supply pushed occupancy rates down to 87 per cent, a dip of 2.6 per cent from the previous year. Winter months are the strongest for Dubai hotels, with occupancy and prices falling to half their peaks by July.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National