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The history of HSBC in the Middle East

Origins: In 1959, HSBC acquired The British Bank of the Middle East. Founded in London in 1889, the British Bank established banking in the region and for decades it was the only banking establishment dedicated to supporting the area.

Diversification: The 1950's saw a time of great transformation; the decline and closure of operations in Iran (in 1952) and growth in the Arabian peninsula and the Levant.

The Bank lead the way for banking in the Arab Gulf states (now referred to collectively as the Gulf Cooperation Council countries), opening branches in Kuwait (1942), Bahrain (1944), Dubai (1946), Muscat (1948), and Saudi Arabia (Jeddah and Alkhobar 1950).

Similarly, branches were opened in the cities of the 'fertile crescent' – Beirut (1946), Damascus (1947), Tripoli (1948), Amman (1949), and Aleppo (1951).

An adjustment in regional focus in 1949 was reflected in the changing of the institution's name to the British Bank of Iran and the Middle East. When operations in Iran were halted in 1952, the name was once again shortened to "The British Bank of the Middle East."

Regional expansion: By 1959, when the bank was acquired by the HSBC Group, more offices had been opened in Aden, Sharjah, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, and Abu Dhabi.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, nationalisation of the banking sector saw the bank end its presence in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Libya.

The bank also entered into local alliances. During 1978, the bank’s business in Saudi Arabia was transferred to a new bank, the Saudi British Bank, where the Group took a 40% shareholding. The Group also took a 40% share in the Hong Kong Egyptian Bank S.A.E, when it was established in 1982.

HSBC in Qatar: HSBC has been operating in Qatar since 1954. With an unrivalled global network and a rich heritage in Qatar, HSBC is well positioned to play a leading role in the development of the local economy and continue its commitment to the country's development . The diverse workforce of international banking professionals combined with local Qatari talent offer HSBC customers the best in international knowledge and understanding of the local market dynamics.

The new state-of-the-art main office officially opened its doors on 11 February 2010 and forms part of the branch network that includes branches in the popular shopping mall City Center Doha and Salwa Road. The bank offers a full range of cross border banking products and services from commercial and global banking to retail banking and wealth management and offshore banking.