Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait headed towards further growth in DIFC with license upgrade

The upgrade allows ABK-DIFC to offer a wider range of services, which reaffirms the position of ABK-DIFC as a regional offshore banking hub for corporate, multinational and financial institutions.

Keeping up with its reputation of being the leading global financial centre in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, DIFC announced the license upgrade of the DIFC office of Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait (ABK).

Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait (ABK) started its operations in Kuwait more than 53 years ago and has been ranked by Global Finance as one of the top ten safest banks in the Middle East region for a number of years. The bank was the first Kuwaiti bank to open a branch in the UAE in 1986, and expanded its operations in 2018 in DIFC with a Category 2 License. Now, ABK’s license has been upgraded to a Category 1 Banking License. This announcement bolsters ABK-DIFC’s capabilities within the banking realm, and further reinforces DIFC’s reputation as the leading global financial centre in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region.

ABK opened the DIFC office with a strategic aim to centralise its offshore loan portfolio. The bank successfully achieved the latter and grew beyond the budgeted targets with a large number of its international client transactions carried out from the DIFC office.

ABK-DIFC recorded significant growth in the number of clients from the GCC as well as leading blue-chip entities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Furthermore, ABK’s banking relationships with international financial institutions has expanded into Asia and Latin America over the years.

Today, the bank celebrates a major milestone with its DFSA upgrade to a ‘Category 1 Banking License’, which will enable deposit taking from international corporates and financial institutions. The upgrade also falls within the bank’s expansion strategy to become a leading regional banking hub with the ability to serve institutional clients, multinational and financial institutions.

Reinforcing the bank’s growth strategy, ABK-DIFC’s number of staff has expanded by almost 60 per cent since establishment, and the number of employees is expected to quadruple by 2026.

The bank has recorded mandated lead arranger positions for more than 40 loan transactions including large transactions in the last three years. This reflects the inspiring work environment provided by DIFC, coupled with the best international standards that promote growth and expansion and foster regional and international opportunities.

Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority

Commenting on the upgrade, Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority, said: “We would like to congratulate ABK-DIFC for obtaining a Category 1 Banking License. The bank’s decision to expand their services at the centre further strengthens DIFC’s position as the leading global hub for businesses and financial institutions seeking growth opportunities across the MEASA region. Our comprehensive ecosystem is continuously evolving to give our clients the confidence to make the most of it for continued expansion of their operations.”

ABK-DIFC successfully uses the Centre’s platforms and services to arrange regular meetings and to host board directors for committee meetings and various other events.

Tom Lind, Senior Executive Officer of ABK-DIFC

Tom Lind, Senior Executive Officer of ABK-DIFC, said: “We are very pleased with the approval of the Category 1 upgrade for the ABK-DIFC office. This will give us the opportunity to further grow and enhance our client relationships. We are looking forward to continuing our collaboration and operations and thank the DIFC and DFSA for all their support.”

Further commenting on this important milestone, Omar Wahby, ABK-UAE CEO, said: “The license upgrade is timely, and will support our strategy to achieve sustainable growth and establish new benchmarks in the industry. I would like to extend my gratitude to our loyal clients for their continued support and trust and to the DFSA for granting us the license. We look forward to a strong mutually beneficial long-term relationship.”