Skip to main content

Wondering how to navigate the UAE’s banking sector?

Whether you’re a resident, an expatriate, or a business entity, this guide demystifies the steps to opening a bank account in the UAE and provides indispensable tips on selecting the best banking option for your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • The UAE has a diverse banking sector with 52 banks, combining local favourites with global giants, offering conventional and Islamic banking options.
  • Expats and non-residents can choose from a variety of bank accounts; savings accounts offer good interest rates, and offshore investments provide tax benefits.
  • To open a bank account in the UAE, residents and non-residents need to provide specific documents, such as passport copies and proof of address, with corporations requiring additional documentation.

Banking Network Overview

Local bank in the UAE

The UAE’s banking landscape is a well-regulated sector teeming with numerous financial institutions. With 52 banks, 22 of which are national, the UAE’s banking network is a robust mix of local and foreign banks, all under the watchful eyes of the UAE Central Bank.

The local banking scene is dominated by popular banks like Emirates National Bank of Dubai (ENBD), Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), and Dubai Islamic Bank, to name a few. It’s not just local banks making waves; the international banking giants like HSBC Bank, BNP Paribas Middle East Bank, and Citibank N.A Bank are adding their global expertise to the mix.

The UAE’s banking sector encompasses not only local banks and international powerhouses but also has a significant presence of UAE banks operating as Islamic banks. These banks, contributing to an impressive 23% of all banking assets in the UAE, have a crucial role in promoting sustainable finance and handling approved foreign currency transactions.

The best bank accounts

currency notes, multi country currency, currency

If you’re an expat or non-resident eager to establish a financial foothold in the UAE, you’re in the right place! The UAE banking sector offers a variety of bank accounts, each with its unique perks and benefits. From the HSBC Expat Premier Account to the Barclays International Bank Account, there’s a plethora of options to choose from.

The most popular banks at the moment, for new start-ups in the UAE would be: Emirates NBD & Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. Both of these banks offer competitive rates, excellent customer service and a range of tailored services to meet your individual needs. Whether you’re looking for a basic current account or a premium savings account, these two banks have got you covered.

One of the key factors to consider when choosing a bank in the UAE is their commitment to sustainable finance. With the growing concern for environmental and social responsibility, many banks are now incorporating sustainable practices into their operations. This not only benefits the environment but also contributes to long-term stability and growth within the region.

For those looking to open an account with a bank that prioritises sustainability, look no further than Emirates NBD. They have been recognised as one of the leading sustainable finance banks in the UAE.

Opening a bank account

Once you’ve decided to open a bank account in the UAE, the following steps should be considered. Well, the process varies depending on whether you’re a resident, a non-resident, or a corporation.

UAE residents will be required to provide the following documents:

  • Original passport along with a copy
  • Emirates ID
  • Salary certificate
  • Personal bank statements (some banks may require this for additional verification)

On the other hand, non-residents are required to furnish a copy of their passport with the UAE entry page, a reference letter, and a proof of their address such as a utility bill.

Corporations aiming to open a bank account need to provide the following additional documents:

  • Emirates ID card of the company’s representative
  • Company’s trade license
  • Certificate of registration
  • Lease agreement

Rough timeline to open an account

Opening a bank account in the UAE is a complex process that involves several steps and can take a significant amount of time. Depending on the bank provider and the volume of requests at the time, the process can take up to a month or even longer. This is because banks in the UAE have strict requirements and regulations in place to ensure the safety and security of their customers’ funds.

Furthermore, the process of opening a bank account in the UAE may involve several rounds of documentation and due diligence to verify the identity and financial status of the account holder. This can include submitting copies of identification, residency permits, and other supporting documents, as well as answering financial and legal questionnaires.

In conclusion, opening a bank account in the UAE can be a time-consuming and complex process, depending on various factors such as the bank provider and the amount of documentation required. However, this is a necessary measure to maintain the safety and security of the country’s financial system, and should be approached with patience and diligence.


To sum it up, opening a bank account in the UAE is a significant step towards unlocking financial opportunities. With a diverse banking network, a wide variety of account options tailored to your needs, and a straightforward account opening process, the UAE is an attractive destination for individuals and businesses alike.

Leave a Reply