Dubai banking hub at risk because of Gulf crisis, bank CEO says


'There is a risk of turning away from the UAE,' Standard Chartered boss says

More than 400 financial firms are based in Dubai International Financial Centre (Reuters)
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Last update: 
Tuesday 8 August 2017 8:46 UTC

The Gulf crisis, which saw Arab allies of Saudi Arabia including the United Arab Emirates boycott Qatar, threatens Dubai’s standing as regional financial hub, the CEO of international bank Standard Chartered said on Monday.  

"There is a lot of benefit we get from having a Dubai hub, we are looking to see what the effect of this will be," Bill Winters, the boss of Standard Chartered, told Reuters. "There is a risk of turning away from the UAE."

The bank, a major lender across the Middle East, employs 128 people in Qatar where it offers corporate and personal business services. The head of its operations in Doha, a Bahraini national who was appointed in March, quit after the rift began in June.

Dubai is the main banking centre in the Gulf. Its tax incentives, which were introduced in 2004, have attracted institutions from across the world.

More than 400 financial firms are based in the emirate’s independent zone, known as Dubai International Financial Centre.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar - a major global gas supplier - on 5 June, accusing it of backing militant groups and arch foe Iran, allegations Doha denies.

Qatar has complained to the World Trade Organisation last week about the sanctions, which include bans on trade through Qatar's ports and travel by Qatari citizens, blockages of Qatari digital services and websites, closure of maritime borders and prohibition of flights operated by Qatari aircraft.

Doha made the formal protest at the WTO on 31 July by "requesting consultations" with the three countries, triggering a 60-day deadline for them to settle the complaint or face litigation at the WTO and potential retaliatory trade sanctions.

"The sanctions imposed by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain did not contradict the agreements of the WTO," UAE state news agency WAM quoted Juma Mohammed al-Kait, an assistant undersecretary in the economy ministry, as saying on Tuesday.