Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait (ABK), one of the leading Kuwaiti banks that opened its first branch in Abu Dhabi, plans to have branches in every emirate of the UAE besides Oman and Qatar.
Established in 1967, ABK has 22 branches in Kuwait and opened its first UAE branch in Dubai in 1986.
"We are planning to expand our presence and businesses throughout the region with specific focus on Oman and Qatar in future with the ongoing expansion in the UAE. Within three years we expect to have branches in all the emirates of the UAE," Abdullah Al Sumait, Deputy Chief and General Manager of ABK, told Emirates Business at the inauguration of the branch in the capital.
Al Sumait said he was optimistic that the financial crisis nightmare will end within two years and all of the region's economic sectors and financial institutions will return to normal business.
When asked about the bank's performance last year, Al Sumait said 2007 was a record year for ABK. "We also had record growth during 2008, but I can't disclose the figures as they have to come from Kuwait's central bank. We have been getting a lot of support from the central bank during the current global financial crisis and it has introduced some precautionary measures to protect the financial institutions. As for ABK, we have been very cautious under these circumstances and cutting costs across the board."
He said the bank's growth is steady despite the global turbulence. "But no one in the world is insulated from the negative impacts of the global meltdown. We have also been affected and have delayed our expansion plans. And we are very cautious as we move on into 2009."
When asked about financial results for 2008, Al Sumait said all the targets were met, but refused to give any figures. "Unfortunately I cannot give any figures unless these come through our central bank. Because of the crisis, the financial results for 2008 are expected to be a little below what we have achieved in 2007.
Al Sumait said 2009 is going to be a difficult year. "The crisis is not only affecting us, but all the financial institutions in the world. We will continue to grow, but at a slower pace. Probably in a year or two things will improve and my expectations are that it won't take more than two years for things to get back to normal."