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International Banks in Dubai: Everything You Need to Know

Jun 27, 2022 | Finance

It may seem obvious, but if you’re setting up a business in the United Arab Emirates, you’ll need to open a bank account. However, when you start the process of researching international banks in Dubai, it can quickly feel overwhelming.

The good news? There are a number of banks in Dubai, which can make it easier to access finance and banking services across the Middle East.

The UAE ranks well above the global average in terms of total early-stage entrepreneurial activity and job creation expectation rate. Setting up a business in Dubai can be an attractive proposition for any entrepreneur, no matter your country of origin.

From getting a debit card, credit cards and organising finances, banks in the UAE take care of every financial need. Keep reading to learn about banks in UAE and the various banking options available.

Dubai International Financial Centre

Most of the largest international banks in Dubai are located in the Dubai International Financial Centre, such as Deutsche Bank and Citibank. Banks in the Dubai International Financial Centre are privy to a 50-year tax-free environment when it comes to income and 100% foreign ownership. As a UAE government-managed zone, the Dubai International Financial Centre is considered the heartbeat of the region’s financial system. 

Do You Need a Bank Account for a Visa in Dubai?

In order to apply for a business visa in Dubai, you will need to have a bank account in the United Arab Emirates. While it’s not a formal requirement for the visa application process itself, it is necessary to formally register your business in the UAE.

The process of registering a company for business activities in Dubai includes:

  • Deciding on the type of legal entity your Dubai business will be
  • Choosing a trade name
  • Applying for a business license
  • Renting or buying office space
  • Getting pre-approvals
  • Registering your business

So, no, there is no step that says “get an international bank account in Dubai.” However, it is integrated into the process as you’ll need to manage your UAE business’ money somewhere, right?

Does this mean you have to bank with a UAE bank? Actually, no. You are free to open an account with offshore banks. This includes opening a bank that’s home is one of the many island nations that offer tax incentives.

The Main Benefits of Offshore Banking

International banks offer a number of benefits to account holders. One of the most significant advantages is that these banks are not subject to the same regulations as traditional banks.

This allows account holders to enjoy greater flexibility when it comes to managing their finances.

Another benefit of offshore banking is that it provides account holders with access to a wider range of investment opportunities.

For example, many international banks offer accounts that allow account holders to invest in foreign currencies, stocks, and other assets. This can help account holders to diversify their portfolios and hedge against risks.

Lastly, offshore banking can provide account holders with greater privacy and security. For instance, many international banks do not disclose account holder information to third parties without the express permission of the account holder.

This helps to protect account holder information from being accessed by unauthorized individuals. Overall, offshore banking can provide Dubai businesses with a number of advantages.

An infographic about international banking for businesses in Dubai

How to Choose The Best International Bank in Dubai for Businesses

There are many offshore financial centres around the world, but Dubai is often cited as one of the best places to do business.

The city has a pro-business environment and offers a wide range of business-friendly infrastructure and services. It is also home to a large number of international banks, which offer a variety of products and services designed for businesses.

So, if you’re looking for the best bank in Dubai for your business, what should you look for?

Firstly, it’s important to find a bank that has experience dealing with businesses in your industry. This will ensure that they understand your unique needs and can provide tailored solutions.

Secondly, you’ll want to find a bank with a strong reputation in the OFC (offshore financial centre) market. It also pays to compare exchange rates and associated fees for international money transfers. This will give you peace of mind that your finances are in good hands.

Finally, it’s worth considering any extra services that the bank can offer, such as mobile banking, trade finance or asset management. By taking these factors into account, you can be sure to find the best financial institution in Dubai for your business.

What Are Some Offshore Banks in Dubai?

Dubai is home to a number of offshore banks. These banks provide a selection of options, including investment banking services, personal loans, credit cards, debit cards, and world-class banking facilities.

They also offer a variety of professional benefits such as low taxes, no currency restrictions, and easy access to global markets. All of these support business opportunities throughout different emirates, including Abu Dhabi and the entire UAE.

When opening an account in the Middle East, you have a fair share of choices. For high-net-worth individuals, in fact, you’ve got so many choices it might be hard to choose the right one.

Here is a list of the best banks in Dubai, including offshore banks, for ex-pats and foreign entrepreneurs.

HSBC Middle East

A screenshot of HSBC Middle East- An international bank in Dubai

The first of many banks in the UAE is HSBC Middle East. HSBC Middle East is a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings, the world’s second-largest bank by assets. Headquartered in Dubai, HSBC Middle East serves as the regional hub for its financial activities in the GCC countries and Yemen.

The Middle East operations of this bank include offshore financial centres in Bahrain and the UAE. Offshore financial centres are important to HSBC Middle East because they provide access to global capital markets and offer tax-advantaged structures for holding investments.

In addition, offshore financial centres allow this institution to better manage its risk by holding assets in multiple jurisdictions. By operating in offshore financial centres, HSBC Middle East is able to offer its clients a greater scope of products and services.

This is a huge advantage to customers, compared to what’s available in an onshore operation. Importantly, this is also good news for high-net-worth individuals looking to set up a business in Dubai.


An image of Citibank-an International bank in Dubai

What about Citibank? Citibank is one of the largest banks in the world, with operations in over 100 countries. The bank has a strong presence in offshore financial centres, such as Dubai International Financial City, where it boasts several branches.

Citibank is also one of the leading international Dubai banks, offering a full suite of banking services to both individuals and businesses.

In addition to its traditional banking products, the bank also offers an array of Islamic banking products and services, making it a great choice for Muslim customers.

Citibank is committed to providing excellent customer service and offering competitive rates and fees. If you’re looking for a bank that can meet your offshore banking requirements, Citibank is a great option.

Emirates NBD

A screenshot of Emirates NBD- an international bank in Dubai

Moving onto another bank, Emirates NBD. Emirates NBD is one of the leading banks in Dubai and is also one of the largest banks in the UAE. This bank has a robust international presence and is a major player in the region’s national banking sector.

Emirates NBD offers a full spectrum of professional banking services and products. Some of these include deposits, loans, credit cards, debit card and investment banking products. The bank also has a strong focus on corporate and investment banking.

This bank also has a network of branches and ATMs across Dubai and the UAE. Likewise, it’s one of the few banks in Dubai that offer Shariah-compliant banking products and services.

Planning on travelling a lot within the UAE region for business purposes? Emirates NBD also has branch offices in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman.

Do keep in mind, though, that the minimum average balance is USD 200,000 or equivalent in your country’s currency.

Habib Bank AG

A screenshot of Habib Bank- an international bank in Dubai

One of the most popular international banking centres in Dubai is Habib Bank AG. The main base branch is located in Zurich, Switzerland, which makes it an offshore bank technically speaking.

Habib Bank AG offers a variety of services to its customers, including savings and checking accounts, loans, and investment options. The bank also offers useful products and services to its corporate clients. Typical examples of these include trade financing, project financing, and Islamic banking products.

In addition, Habib Bank AG provides a full suite of banking services to its retail customers, including credit cards, debit cards, and ATM services. As one of the largest banks in Dubai, Habib Bank AG has a vast presence in the region, meaning its customer service is second to none.

Royal Bank of Canada

A screenshot of Royal Bank Canada

Another reputable bank option in Dubai is the Royal Bank of Canada, which has branches in nearly every major city in the world. The Royal Bank of Canada is one of the leading international banks in Dubai, providing the expected gamut of banking services to both businesses and individuals across the UAE.

Personal and business banking, wealth management, and commercial banking are on offer with this financial institution. Royal Bank of Canada is also a member of the Global ATM Alliance, which provides its customers with access to over 50,000 ATM machines in more than 30 countries.

In addition to its extensive network of branches, the bank also has an impressive online presence, allowing customers to conduct banking transactions from the comfort of their own homes.

Noor Bank

A screenshot of Noor Bank- an International bank in Dubai

A younger member of UAE-based international banks is Noor Bank. Established in the late 90s, this institution was formally known as Noor Islamic Bank.

It features a variety of investment services as well as financial and wealth management products. Businesses that are small to medium-sized could benefit from Noor Bank’s investment bank offerings.

Noor Bank has a network of branches in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah free trade zone, and Al Ain. While originally based in Abu Dhabi, Noor Bank has an international network in the United Kingdom, North Africa and Saudi Arabia. 

Dubai Islamic Bank 

A screenshot of Dubai Islamic Bank- an international bank in Dubai

Established in 1975, Dubai Islamic Bank was a pioneer financial institution of its time in the UAE.

Dubai Islamic Bank famously offers personalised Islamic business banking services, while also holding the title of largest Islamic bank in the Middle East. A local bank of Dubai, it specialises in Shariah-compliant banking policies, serving the region and its customs.

Standard Chartered Bank

A screenshot of Stanard Charters- an international bank in Dubai

The Standard Chartered Bank is a private finance company established in the UAE during the late 1950s. Headquartered in London, Standard Chartered Bank boasts a comprehensive foreign international bank branch network. The Standard Chartered bank has almost a dozen branches and over 100 ATMs in the United Arab Emirates. 

What Services Do International Banks in Dubai Offer?

Not sure what to look for when it comes to choosing the best bank in Dubai? In general, most banks offer plenty of services to businesses operating in the city. These services include business loans, trade finance, and investment banking.

In addition, they can also provide account management and foreign exchange services. Ultimately, your decision is going to come down to what you need in terms of corporate banking and account management services. Most international banks in Dubai offer a one-stop shop for all of your business banking needs.

Look for a bank that can help you:

  • Grow your business
  • Provide the capital you need to expand your operations
  • Access new markets

In addition, ensure that the bank has an extensive network of branches and ATMs across the city to make it easy for you to manage your finances.

Whether you are looking for a business loan or just want to open a business account, an international bank in Dubai can help you to achieve your business goals. If you’re having trouble making the right choice, we suggest speaking with an expert.

How to Open an Account With a Bank in Dubai

If you’re looking to open an offshore bank account, Dubai is one of the most popular destinations. But what’s the process for setting up a bank account in Dubai?

Generally speaking, you’ll need to visit the UAE and set up an appointment with a bank. Unfortunately, most international institutions in Dubai require a physical presence to open an account.

If you’re not working with a business solutions specialist, this means that you’ll need to be physically present yourself.

You’ll need to bring your passport and any other relevant documentation, such as proof of address and proof of income. The bank will then run a credit check and verify your identity. Once everything is approved, you’ll be able to open an account and start using it.

Of course, there are a few different types of offshore options, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.

For example, if you’re looking for tax advantages, you might want to consider an offshore trust or foundation. If you’re looking for anonymity, on the other hand, you might want to consider using a numbered account.



If you’re interested in setting up an offshore bank account in Dubai, the first step is to contact a bank and set up an appointment. Once you have all the necessary documentation, the process is relatively straightforward. With a bit of planning, you can be easily set up in no time.

The Benefits & Pitfalls Of Offshore Banking

Banking offshore has become increasingly popular in recent years, as people look for ways to protect their assets and improve their financial situations. This is especially true for entrepreneurs setting up businesses in Dubai.

There are a number of advantages to offshore banking, including the following:

  • They are located in offshore financial centres, which offer favourable tax regimes and confidentiality protections. This can help people to reduce their taxable income and protect their privacy.
  • Offshore banks offer competitive higher interest rates than banks in developed countries. This is because they face less regulation and competition and because they typically lend to less risky borrowers.
  • Banking offshore incurs different legalities and regulations compared to banks in developed countries. This can make it easier to obtain loans and other types of financing and to structure transactions in a way that minimises taxes.

However, offshore banks have come under increased scrutiny in recent years, as they have been accused of facilitating tax evasion and money laundering.

In addition, offshore banks are not subject to the same regulations as banks in developed countries, which can make them a risky investment.

As a result, it is important to weigh the risks and benefits of offshore banking before making any decisions. Ultimately, we view them as a safe, great option for high-net-worth individuals.

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