HSBC Middle East
Founded in 1865 to finance trade between Asia and the West, today HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations serving around 38 million customers worldwide. Its aim is to be acknowledged as the world’s leading and most respected international bank.
HSBC’s presence in what is now the UAE dates back to 1946 when The Imperial Bank of Iran, a forerunner of HSBC Bank Middle East, opened its doors to the merchants and citizens of the Emirates. Following its withdrawal from Iran, the bank was renamed the British Bank of The Middle East (BBME). In 1959 BBME was acquired by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited. The bank played a key role in the establishment of a banking sector across the MENA region.
The 1940s was a period of great change with the decline of operations in Iran (which closed in 1952) and expansion into the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant. The bank was a leader in financial services in the states that are now referred to as the Gulf Cooperation Council, opening branches in Kuwait (1942), Bahrain (1944), the area now known as the UAE (1946), Oman (Muscat 1948) and Saudi Arabia (Al Khobar and Jeddah 1950). Branches were also opened in the cities of the Fertile Crescent: Beirut (1946), Damascus (1947), Tripoli (1948), Amman (1949) and Aleppo (1951).
By 1959, when the bank was acquired by the Group, it had added more offices in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya, Qatar, Tunisia, Morocco and UAE. During the 1960s and 1970s the bank left Syria, Iraq, South Yemen and Libya after nationalisation of the banking sectors. In 1978, the bank’s business in Saudi Arabia was transferred to a new bank, the Saudi British Bank, where the Group took a 40 per cent share. The Group also took a 40 per cent share in the Hong Kong Egyptian Bank S.A.E, which was established in 1982.
In 1994, the bank’s head office was transferred to Jersey and in 1999 it was renamed HSBC Bank Middle East (HBME). In 2001, the Group’s shareholding in Egypt increased to 94.5 per cent. In June 2016, the bank confirmed that it had transferred its place of incorporation and head office from Jersey to the Dubai International Financial Centre. As a result of the transfer, HBME is now lead-regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority, but remains locally regulated in each of the countries in which it operates by the country’s Central Bank and its other regulators.