Barclays Bank PLC (Barclays), one of the world’s largest banks, today announced that it has been granted a banking licence by the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority to operate from the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC). The licence takes effect on September 10th and is Barclays first significant geographic expansion in the Middle East since it first began operating in the region from the UAE over 30 years ago.
Establishing a permanent presence in Qatar will provide Barclays with another platform from which to further develop its presence in the region and accelerate its growth. Barclays, which has clearly stated its intention to increase the proportion of income it generates from outside the UK, is focusing on some of some of the world’s fastest growing economies. Qatar is a very attractive market with the highest per capita income in the Middle East and a GDP per capita which is amongst the highest in the world.
The banking licence to operate from the QFC has been granted to Barclays Bank PLC and the licence will initially cover products from the Group’s investment banking arm Barclays Capital. Barclays Capital is one of the most prominent investment banks in the Middle East having significantly expanded its resources in the region in the past few years. Currently it is a leading provider of debt finance and risk management services to a broad range of clients across a growing geographic area.
Barclays has also applied to operate its Global Retail and Commercial Banking, and Barclays Wealth arms, under the same banking licence and will be seeking the approval for these additional activities from the QFC Regulatory Authority over the coming weeks. The expansion into these activities will further boost its presence in the country.
Cyrus Ardalan, vice chairman and head of Middle East and North Africa investment banking at Barclays Capital commented: “Barclays aims to be amongst the world’s leading banks and it is crucial that we gain customer confidence in our capabilities across the right segments, regions and products. To do this we need to ensure that we have the right geographic footprint which leads us to growing markets such as Qatar.
“Historically, Barclays Capital has always been active in Qatar but securing a licence will provide a base from which we can develop a permanent presence in the country and expand further across the region. Qatar’s transformation and achievements over recent times have been remarkable and we are delighted to be a part of this new era.”
Stuart Pearce, CEO of the QFC Authority says: “We are delighted to welcome Barclays to the QFC. Their determination to obtain a license so quickly underscores the value they see in growing their business in Qatar and their recognition of the first class business and regulatory environment that we have created.
“The participation of institutions of the stature of Barclays in Qatar's rapidly growing market for financial services will help bring about the transformation of the economy to which the government has committed itself.”