Banks in the UAE

Pauline Familara
Pauline Familara
3 October 2020
Banks in the UAE

The banking sector in the UAE is inextricably linked with business, and banks in UAE are a kind of means of consolidating financial capacity and supporting firms and various enterprises of any size.

Thanks to business orientation a bank account in the UAE can be opened by almost any person who is on the territory of the state: if he needs to transfer or receive money in the country, it means that he participates in business processes and the task of banks is to make all money transfer procedures extremely simple.

The banks of the Arab Emirates began to emerge in ancient times, but did not have any global influence due to the insignificant volumes of trade of the state itself. Even the country’s geographical position on the way between the East and the West had little effect on the amount of investments and the support of banks and trading companies.

Everything changed with the release of Arab oil to the world market when the country itself began to grow rich, and enterprising businessmen, in parallel with the extraction of black gold, began to implement large-scale trade and tourism projects. It is not surprising that today list of banks in UAE is expanding and they show high growth rates. Their investment projects support the most ambitious construction projects in the country and the development of tourism infrastructure.

On average, share prices of top banks in UAE grow by 13-15% per year, which is one of the highest in the world. And the merit here is not in the bowels of the country but in the competent investment policy of the banks themselves.

List of banks in UAE

All banks in UAE are divided into two types:

  • Local banks, including the commercial bank of Dubai, one of the largest in general, the Bank of Abu Dhabi, the national bank of the emirate of Ajman – just over 20 banks.
  • International banks in UAE – City Bank, ABN Amro Bank, HSBC Bank and others. UAE Central Bank issue licenses for such bank with an accuracy: during the period of the rapid growth of the UAE economy, many branches of foreign banks opened in the country, which created an imbalance between the volume of the economy of the Emirates and the number of banks.

The banking network of the United Arab Emirates is noted by experts as one of the best in the world. There are several reasons for this: the Central Bank’s selectivity in issuing licenses, its strict control over the activities of commercial institutions, the simplicity of the scheme for opening a bank account in the UAE, support from the government, etc.

List of top 10 banks in UAE includes such giants as:

  • (FAB) First National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD and First Gulf bank merged) capitalization of which already exceeded $33.8 billion;
  • National Bank of Dubai (Emirates NBD), has the AA category in UAE banks ranking, which includes the most powerful banks in the world. Its capitalization is already approaching $15.5 billion;
  • Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank – it has 48 branches in the UAE and 3 abroad (in India and the UK), with a capitalization of more than $9.7 billion;
  • Dubai Islamic Bank founded in 1975. It is working on the principles of Islamic finance, assumes that money is only the equivalent of the cost of goods and services, and this excludes interest on loans since monetization of time is considered a crime according to Sharia. Its capitalization is amounted to $6.6 billion;
  • Mashreq Bank Dubai – one of the oldest in the country (1967). It is providing conventional and Islamic banking services, with 12 branches in 9 countries in Asia, Europe, USA and Africa.
  • Commercial Bank of Dubai – capitalization is more than $3.9 billion.

Dubai Bank Ranking

Dubai is the country’s second-largest emirate. The most significant number of free zones is concentrated here. The largest banks in the UAE are represented in the local banking system.

The following Dubai banks are popular with UAE citizens and foreigners:

  • Emirates NBD is one of the best banks in the Emirate of Dubai. It occupies a leading position in the UAE bank ranking;
  • Dubai Islamic Bank, which offers many products for individuals, private and commercial companies (the services are also available for non-Muslims);
  • Al Hilal Bank, which has national programs to support private business by the UAE government – its head office is located in Abu Dhabi, and several branches operate in Dubai;
  • Mashreq Bank, headquartered in Dubai, is one of the oldest banks in the UAE;
  • Union National Bank is one of the top three banks in the country and serves the private and commercial sectors.

Basic services of banks in UAE

The banking system in the UAE is considered one of the most developed in the world. It provides its customers with a wide range of services, including:

  • opening a personal account for residents and non-residents of the country. At the same time, the choice of banks is limited for non-residents and there are increased requirements for the minimum balance of funds on the account;
  • opening corporate accounts for business;
  • loans to businesses and individuals;
  • making payments using checkbooks (only for residents) and debit cards;
  • performing many banking operations via the Internet or telephone and other services.

The advantages of opening a bank account in the UAE

Emirates today is a country that is ideal for doing business and for saving money. A bank account in one of top ten banks in UAE is almost a 100% guarantee that you no longer need to fear for your own savings, because they are safely sheltered from all adversity, ranging from inflation to the tax encroachment of your government.

Experienced depositors of banks in UAE highlight such advantages:

  • Reliability of financial institutions, since the Central Bank of the UAE does not give the slightest opportunity to one-day banks, which can go bankrupt, leaving their investors with nothing, to enter this market.
  • The safety of personal data. Despite the fact that investors are required to provide truthful data, and it is completely impossible to issue a deposit to a dummy in this country, information about investors will not go beyond the cabinets of inspection bodies.
  • Having opened a bank account in the UAE, you may not be afraid that you will not be able to withdraw your money at any moment. The highest liquidity of banks in UAE is a reality, since this is one of the main conditions put forward by the Central Bank.
  • By the presence of Internet banking investors can not be surprised. However, the UAE financial institutions provide their customers with the ability to remotely manage their accounts without fear of hacker attacks.
  • Cost of serving a bank account in the UAE is significantly lower than, for example, in Europe, but the level of service in the financial institutions of the UAE is the highest.
  • Large selection of financial institutions. If you are wondering how many banks in UAE can offer their services to you, the answer will be more than 50.

«Dynasty Business Adviser» experts understand how important it is to choose a good and reliable bank in the UAE. After all, a registered company without a working bank account is a non-working tool.

For this purpose, the company’s consultants will provide you with a complete list of banks in UAE, as well as advise not only about the specifics of each bank in the UAE, but also about the types of bank accounts, the time of opening an account, the necessary balance in the account and other important information about the banks of the Emirates. Therefore, do not waste precious time looking for a reliable bank, but entrust this work to professionals!

Who Can Open an Account in the UAE

A citizen of any country who has reached the age of 18 (21 years old for some banks and banking products) can open a bank account in Dubai and other emirates. A foreign citizen can open an account with a UAE bank without resident status. It is more difficult for non-residents of the country to open an account since banks require more documents and often put forward additional requirements:

  • opening a deposit for several years;
  • higher minimum allowable balance;
  • opening an additional investment account.

What Accounts and Cards the UAE Banks Offer

Banks in the United Arab Emirates open personal and corporate accounts (for legal entities). In this case, individual accounts are of two types:

  • current – you can open a checkbook;
  • savings, allowing you to receive interest on the balance.

Personal Bank Accounts for UAE Residents

Citizens of the United Arab Emirates, the Persian Gulf countries, and foreigners with a resident visa can open a personal bank account in the UAE of any type: current and savings. At the same time, they can receive an international credit and debit card, using the invested funds without restrictions.

Personal Bank Accounts for Non-Residents

Foreigners who do not have a UAE resident visa can only open a savings account with a bank in Dubai and other emirates with an accrual of 0.1-2% on the balance of funds and a limited number of transactions per month. The Central Bank of the UAE established such a requirement since opening an account for a non-resident is a high risk for the bank. A non-resident can also receive debit and credit cards when opening a deposit.

Corporate Accounts for Local Companies

A local company can open a corporate account for a local LLC company if it is 100% owned by foreign capital.

Corporate Accounts for International Business

International companies can open an account in Dubai and the UAE of the following types:

  • current account for the company in the Free Zone;
  • account for a branch of a foreign company.

How to Open a Current Account for Business in the UAE

Doing business in the UAE is impossible without an existing account. To open it, you need the following:

  1. Register a company (local, in the free zone, offshore) or a branch of a foreign company.
  2. Rent an office space.
  3. Obtain all necessary licenses.
  4. Obtain resident visas for company owners, directors, and account signatories.
  5. Choose a bank and clarify the list of required documents (requirements may vary from bank to bank).
  6. Collect documents and legalize them in the prescribed manner: translate them into English and certify them in the UAE consulate of your country and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates.
  7. Submit documents with an application to the bank.

For personal identification, the applicant and signatories must be present at the bank when applying to open an account to undergo an interview and leave a sample signature on bank documents.

How to Open a Bank Account in the UAE for Individuals

To open an account in the UAE for an individual, you must:

  1. Choose the right bank – remember that not all banks work with foreign citizens without resident status.
  2. Clarify the list of required documents with the bank.
  3. Collect documents, perform their translation, and legalization.
  4. Submit an application and a package of documents to the bank in person.
  5. Wait for the bank to decide to open an account or refuse to approve the application.

You should first apply for a resident visa to open an account without problems and use it without restrictions. Dynasty Business Adviser specialists will help you.

What Documents Are Needed to Open an Account in the UAE

To open a personal bank account in the UAE, a foreign citizen will need to submit to the bank the application and the following papers:

  • Original passport and legalized copies of all its pages.
  • UAE entry stamp for non-residents.
  • Resident visa and Emirates ID.
  • Written consent of the company’s management if the resident visa was obtained based on an employment agreement.
  • A letter of recommendation and an extract from your country’s bank on the account’s status and cash flow for several months.
  • Utility bills for 2-3 months indicate the applicant’s address and name.
  • Written justification for opening an account.

The package of documents for opening a corporate account usually includes the following:

  • Constituent documents of the company.
  • Original passports of the applicant, founder (if they are not the same person), and signatories (if necessary), as well as copies of all pages of their passports.
  • Resident visas and Emirates IDs of the applicant (founder) and signatories.
  • A letter of recommendation of the established form from the bank of your country in which the founder is serviced.
  • An extract from the founder’s account for the last six months (from the company’s account – for its branch in the UAE).
  • A document confirming the legal address of the company (lease agreement).
  • The resume of the company and founder.

Different banks may require additional documents, which should be clarified in advance.

How Long Does It Take to Open a Bank Account in the UAE

The procedure for opening an account in UAE banks, depending on its type, takes:

  • from 1 week – for a personal account of a resident of the country and a savings account of a non-resident;
  • from 3 weeks – for a corporate account of a company in the free zone, a local company, and a branch of a foreign company.

Refusals to Open Accounts

Banks in the United Arab Emirates may refuse to open an account if they have doubts about the reliability of the applicant. The main reasons for refusal are the following:

  • submission of documents not in full;
  • lack of confirmation of the source of funds and the applicant’s previous activities;
  • inability to meet the minimum account balance requirements;
  • finding the applicant in the list of persons undesirable for service available in each bank.

In addition, it is not possible to open an account in the UAE if you refuse to be interviewed by a bank representative or if another Emirates bank has blocked your account.

Account Servicing Cost

The account maintenance is free if the average monthly balance or the amount credited to the salary account exceeds the minimum allowable income (3000-5000 AED). Otherwise, the fee is 20-30 AED.

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