Switzerland is the favoured banking destination for Gulf Arab money and Geneva is one of the favoured Swiss locations for Gulf Arabs to spend their summers. Last summer even saw a rash of luxury cars flown in from various gulf countries for their owners to cruise in along the lakeside in Geneva.
Now the region’s banks seem to be following the trend. Bahraini owned Faisal Private Bank (previously Faisal Finance) gained a Swiss licence and opened as a Bank in Geneva in October 2006. The National Bank of Abu Dhabi opened its Swiss Banking operation in Geneva in May last year and now the Federal Banking Commission has confirmed that it is studying a request from the National Bank of Kuwait to upgrade their current investment management operation in Geneva to a full banking licence with a capital of SFr100 million ($96.3 million) provided jointly by NBK and an unnamed Saudi Arabian partner.
The bank explains its choice of location as being the city that the Gulf Arabs most like to visit. It is not certain at this stage whether the bank will create local Islamic products or sell those of its parent.
With the recent opening of the Abu Dhabi Investment House’s Swiss office, again in Geneva, the trend seems to be set.