Group CEO Abdullah Mubarak al-Khalifa: "We take pride in the Group's success in establishing itself as a global banking brand and a leading financial institution in Qatar and the region throughout this prolonged journey"
QNB Group, the largest financial institution in the Middle East and Africa, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, marking its establishment in 1964 as the first and oldest financial and banking institution in Qatar.
This milestone crowns a continuous journey of success during which the group transformed from a local bank into one of the largest and most profitable financial institutions in the region.
With over 29,000 employees, it provides services to more than 20mn clients in key financial and business capitals around the world.
On the occasion, QNB Group CEO Abdullah Mubarak al-Khalifa, stated: "Celebrating sixty years since the establishment of QNB Group is an opportunity for reflection on six decades during which the bank played a crucial role in supporting Qatar's growth and comprehensive development under the guidance and purview of the country’s astute leadership, enhancing Qatar's international standing."
“We take pride in the Group's success in establishing itself as a global banking brand and a leading financial institution in Qatar and the region throughout this prolonged journey.
“Our commitment and continuous efforts have resulted in a lasting legacy of social responsibility, sustainable development, and creating positive change in the communities where we operate. This aligns with our ambitious strategy aimed at supporting the transition towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy, contributing to the achievement of our sustainability goals and aligning with Qatar's National Vision 2030.
“Looking ahead to the future, QNB Group anticipates entering a new chapter of success, expanding its reach and seizing promising opportunities in key markets, in line with our vision to become one of the leading banks in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia.”
Since its inception, QNB, formerly known as Qatar National Bank until its rebranding in 2004, has undergone a series of significant transformations over the past few decades.
The bank's establishment dates back to the early 1960s when senior officials from the Ministry of Finance, led by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani, laid the foundation for the first national bank in the country.
QNB Group was established by Decree No. (7) of 1964 as a Qatari joint-stock company, becoming the first privately-owned commercial bank. Its ownership is now divided between the Qatar Investment Authority and the private sector, and it is listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange.
Officially commencing operations in 1965, QNB expanded its branch network across the country, aligning with an intricate mapping of the country’s population and economic growth.
In its humble beginnings, financial data processing was manual before the bank introduced modern technology into its branch network. In 1989, the bank implemented the KAPITI online banking system, connecting its branch network to a mainframe computer, marking a technological revolution in banking.
The bank did not stop there; it introduced the first automated trading system, incorporating computer systems into its London branch in 1984, preceding the installation of the first ATMs in Qatar.
In 1989, the bank introduced Visa credit cards for the first time, and by 1994, it had issued over 50% of ‘Premier’ and ‘Classic’ cards in Qatar.
Adapting to technological advancements in the 1990s, QNB implemented the latest trading technologies and established one of the most modern trading rooms in the Gulf region.
In 1994, the bank opened its first branch for vehicle financing and continued to support the majority of government projects in various departments and ministries.
Today, QNB stands as the largest financial institution in the Middle East and Africa, and one of the highest-rated banks globally, according to the three major credit rating agencies: Standard & Poor's (A), Fitch (A), and Moody's (A+).
A partner in national development and a key player in Qatar’s modern renaissance
As one of the most prominent financial institutions supporting the country, QNB continues its efforts to bolster economic development by contributing to various national projects and initiatives, driving long-term development.
In alignment with these goals, the Group ensures its strategic objectives align with Qatar's national vision, taking on the responsibility of supporting efforts to build an innovative and knowledge-based economy, in line with the Qatar’s National Development Strategy, and its own Sustainability Strategy.
QNB began assuming this role as far back as 1966 when it greatly contributed to financing the construction of Doha International Airport. Today, it continues to play a leading role in financing massive infrastructure projects, including Hamad International Airport.
The bank has also financed several industrial facilities and expansion projects, such as the North Gas Field project and gas projects in Ras Laffan for liquefied natural gas extraction, supporting Qatar's position as the world's largest exporter of natural gas.
Additionally, the bank has financed the construction of iconic towers, including the Shard Tower in London and the development of towers housing the Qatar Financial Centre headquarters.
It has also supported global educational institutions like Qatar Education City, along with major healthcare, residential, and commercial projects.
QNB also played a significant role in Qatar's successful hosting of the 2006 Asian Games and the 2019 World Athletics Championships, and it was actively involved as an Official Supporter of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in the Middle East and Africa, being the Official Qatari bank for the tournament.
Global expansion in key markets
The bank's journey of expansion began in 1976 with the opening of its first international branch in London, followed by the Paris branch two years later. In 2005, the Group embarked on an ambitious international expansion plan.
In 2013, the Group successfully acquired a controlling stake of 95.00% in QNB Alahli, the second-largest bank in the Arab Republic of Egypt. It further expanded regionally by acquiring stakes in several financial institutions, including 20% in Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (Ecobank), one of the largest banks in Africa; 38.6% in Housing Bank for Trade and Finance in Jordan; 40% in Commercial Bank International based in the United Arab Emirates; 99.99% in QNB Tunisia; 54% in Mansour Bank in Iraq; and 20% in Jazeera Finance in Doha.
QNB owns 51% of QNB Syria and 92% of QNB Indonesia.
Recognising the strategic importance of the Saudi market, QNB opened its second branch in Jeddah following the opening of the Riyadh branch in 2017.
In line with its vision to become a leading bank in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia and to strengthen its presence in highly competitive markets, the Group initiated its operations in China, one of the world’s second biggest and historically fastest growing economies, in 2013.
The representative office in China provides advisory services in investment and trade for Middle Eastern institutions interested in conducting business or investing in China.
Additionally, it coordinates with Chinese companies seeking to expand operations in the Middle East.
The Group has been operating in Vietnam since 2015 and began its operations in India in 2017.
Record financial results and strong ratings
Thanks to its strong financial position and remarkable financial results, QNB consistently holds top positions in global rankings of leading financial institutions.
Over the years, QNB, with its wise management, balanced strategy, strong financial performance, and quality assets, has fortified its position as the largest financial institution in the region. It has garnered a broad market share and a growing customer base both locally and regionally. QNB also boasts the widest network of international branches, representative offices, and subsidiaries.
The rankings, which are consistently and continuously granted to QNB by major global institutions, affirm the financial strength of the Group, the quality of its services and products in the markets, and its domestic and international investments.
World's Strongest Bank
QNB topped Bloomberg Markets' list of the world's strongest banks in 2012, being the only representative from the Middle East and North Africa on the list.
Among the 50 Safest Banks in the World
Global Finance included QNB in the list of the safest 50 banks in emerging markets for 2023, affirming the success of its sustainable business strategy.
First in the Middle East Among the Top 1000 Global Banks
In 2021, QNB ranked first in The Banker's list of the top 1000 banks in the world for the Middle East and Africa, securing the 79th position globally.
First Financial Institution to Exceed QR1tn in Assets
In 2020, QNB achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first financial institution to surpass QR1tn in total assets in the Middle East and Africa, with a 9% increase, equivalent to $282bn.
First in the Top 30 Banks in the Middle East
QNB topped Forbes' list of the strongest 30 banks in the Middle East for 2022 for the second consecutive year, leading the banking sector in the Middle East with total assets of 300.3 billion dollars.
Top Banking Brand in the Middle East and Africa
QNB retained its position as the highest-valued banking brand in the Middle East and Africa for consecutive years, according to the Annual Report on the World’s Top 500 Banking Brands by Brand Finance, a subsidiary of The Banker magazine, further solidifying its position as a regional banking sector leader and grounding its aspirations to become one of the world’s best performing banks.
This accolade also serves as recognition for QNB’s strong financial position, the quality of its global assets, its tremendous banking capabilities and its strong regional and international footprint in the banking sector.
It also serves as a reminder that the QNB brand is a national icon with a very rich heritage, and that it faithfully strived to keep its name synonymous with leadership and excellence, which is what ultimately allowed it to become a globally acclaimed trademark.
Icon reflecting the group’s achievements
As part of its role as a strategic banking partner for Expo 2023 Doha Qatar, the Group launched the ‘QNB Icon’, distinguished by its contemporary design and use of eco-friendly technologies.
The icon embodies the Group's journey since its establishment in 1964 as a national bank, expanding into a global banking brand with a network extending across Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
Standing at four metres in height with a diameter of 3.5 metres, the icon comprises four golden columns topped by a golden solar-powered circular piece displaying key information about QNB's significant achievements in five languages: Arabic, English, French, Chinese, and Turkish.
Digital transformation journey
QNB has charted a roadmap for digital transformation by investing in the infrastructural development of its digital channels and leveraging artificial intelligence across its operational processes.
QNB has been a pioneer in leading digital transformation in Qatar and the region since 2012, introducing "contactless" payment services. Since then, the bank has consistently worked on developing a unique set of distinguished services and innovative financial payment solutions.
In this context, the bank has launched advanced banking products to better meet customer needs, incorporating enhanced security and privacy features. These include contactless payment cards, wearable devices, and smart bracelets equipped with NFC technology, among others.
The introduction of QNB's online and mobile banking services has been a significant milestone in the bank's digital transformation journey, serving as a platform that supports its market leadership in Qatar. Subsequently, the bank has expanded its digital services, including innovative offerings such as WhatsApp banking.
QNB continues to enhance the digital customer experience through its online banking channels, with continuous improvements to its services and products. The bank notably became the first in Qatar to enhance the experience of direct money transfers to the Philippines using the Ripple platform and QNB Finansbank in Turkiye.
In the realm of digital banking services for corporations, the bank has developed its digital trade portal, providing innovative services tailored to the needs of this segment of the market.
With the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on face-to-face transactions, digital products and services gained increased significance. The bank responded by introducing new digital products and services to meet the specific needs of its customers during this period.
In recognition of its leadership in digital banking services, the Group has received several prestigious international awards, including the ‘Best Digital Solutions Bank in Qatar’ for 2023 from Euromoney and the ‘Best Bank in Qatar’ as part of the Euromoney Excellence Awards 2023.
Leadership in sustainability and support for responsible business practices
Sustainable and responsible business practices have always had a direct and purposeful impact on the communities where the QNB Group operates, contributing to building more inclusive and empowering societies.
As part of its commitment to promoting sustainable development for the national economy and supporting Qatar's national action plan for climate change, QNB has established its sustainability framework, consisting of three pillars: sustainable finance, sustainable operations, and beyond-banking commitments.
To achieve these goals, QNB has developed Group-wide common global standards. The bank has integrated environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards into the core of its products, services, and business aspects, supporting national and global sustainable development goals and efforts to transition to an environmentally friendly economy.
QNB's ongoing sustainability framework represents a significant step towards enhancing the Group's ESG strategy. The bank has also developed its sustainable finance framework.
Continuing its sustainability journey, the bank works on reinforcing its leadership as a provider of innovative and responsible financial services. This includes green financing solutions to support environmentally friendly projects, green mortgages, green car loans, and others, offering customers exclusive benefits, lower interest rates, and flexible repayment periods.
In 2020, QNB became the first financial institution in Qatar to issue $600mn in green bonds on the London Stock Exchange. These were not only the first green bonds issued in Qatar but also the largest green bond to have ever been issued by a financial institution in the Middle East and North Africa.
These bonds are listed on the LSE under the sustainable bonds category, and the proceeds are earmarked for financing and/or refinancing eligible green projects.
The QNB Group is committed to contributing to national environmental and sustainability events. It recently provided its strategic banking partnership for Expo 2023 Doha Qatar, the first international horticultural exhibition in Qatar and the Middle East and North Africa region, themed "Green Desert, Better Environment”, reinforcing sustainable practices and addressing relevant global challenges.
The Group is also dedicated to its annual sponsorship of the Qatar Sustainability Week organised by the Qatar Green Building Council, a founding member of Qatar Foundation.
This commitment reflects the Group's dedication to the environment and its contribution to raising awareness among its employees and customers about the importance of sustainability.
In 2019, the bank joined the list of signatories to the United Nations Global Compact initiative to implement global sustainability principles and the UN Principles for Responsible Investment. It also issues annual reports on progress to enhance best practices in the areas of human rights, labour, and the environment.
The QNB Group places special importance on diversity and inclusion principles, reflected in its diverse workforce comprising various nationalities working in some 31 countries. It maintains a high percentage of female participation and a strong presence in top leadership positions throughout the Group's management.
The bank's policies aimed at ensuring diversity and supporting initiatives and events in sports, culture, and social areas designed for employees contribute to creating an ideal working environment, ensuring the well-being of all Group employees alike.
Proactive plans to confront crises
The QNB Group played a pivotal role in alleviating the economic and financial shock caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It implemented measures aimed at supporting borrowers, such as loan payment deferrals, debt restructuring, and lending to key sectors. These actions helped enhance the resilience of the banking system in Qatar.
During this period, QNB initiated loan deferrals and extended the repayment of financial credits for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) free of charge for three months.
Despite the widespread negative impact on the global economy due to lockdown measures, reduced global trade, and a decline in diverse activities, QNB's determination to manage the crisis was evident. The bank operated under exceptional conditions and achieved positive financial results.
QNB stands out as one of the few banks globally that successfully developed an effective strategy for managing long-term crises and fluctuations. This aligns with the policies of the Qatar Central Bank and the national development strategy aimed at diversifying the economy and transforming Qatar into a regional centre for knowledge, high-value industrial, and service activities, fostering the growth of non-hydrocarbon sectors.
These efforts received international recognition, with the Group receiving numerous awards, including ‘Best Bank in Qatar’ for 2020 from Euromoney, ‘Strongest Bank in the Arab World 2021’, and ‘Best Leading Trade Company in Qatar’ for 2020 from GTR Magazine.
These accolades acknowledge the outstanding business model of the Group and the success of its proactive strategy in addressing the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Group's continuous efforts in developing innovative and secure digital banking solutions online and on mobile platforms contribute to enhancing the safety of its customers as a top priority.
Attracting national talent
QNB has solidified its position as a preferred employer, successfully attracting top talents in Qatar and across its international network. Working at QNB is considered a step toward establishing a successful career path, ensuring upward mobility within the organisational hierarchy.
The bank employs best practices in candidate selection, emphasising a culture of performance excellence and investing in continuous training and development for its employees.
This commitment is facilitated through various programmes and educational courses offered by the bank's Development and Training Centre and the ‘Ithraa’ digital training platform.
Educational opportunities include programmes for technical skill development, business management, credit and risk assessment courses, as well as conferences and external activities.
The ‘Financial Cadres’ national programme, launched by the Qatar Academy for Financial and Business Studies in partnership with the Qatar Central Bank, offers an annual opportunity for QNB's Qatari graduates to complete a training programme and earn internationally accredited certificates, qualifying them for leadership positions in the financial services sector, aligning with Qatar's National Vision 2030.
Qatari employees also benefit from specialised training programmes tailored to their specific job needs. These include supervisory development, leadership development, personal effectiveness programmes, and orientation programmes for new hires.
Annually, the Group organises an open day for national recruitment, reaffirming its commitment to developing the national workforce and contributing to building a sustainable knowledge-based economy.
QNB is a partner in national efforts to attract promising Qatari talents across various positions, aligning with the national strategy for developing the Qatari workforce, implementing workforce nationalisation plans, and ultimately supporting Qatar's National Vision 2030.
The bank provides its employees with a range of scholarship programmes available at top universities within the country. Additionally, it offers an educational grant programme for Qatari students, along with the ‘QNB Ambassadors’ programme that aims to send Qatari employees to its international branches to gain international experience in banking.
The bank embraces a system aimed at promoting a culture of teamwork, integrity, and innovation. It reflects its belief in the principle of equal opportunities for all employees and the exchange of best practices.
Global presence of the QNB Brand in the FIFA World Cup 2022
Throughout the tournament, the QNB brand, recognised as the most valuable banking brand in the Middle East and Africa, made a prominent presence among the world's largest global brands during this massive global sporting event, solidifying its position as a global banking icon.
The bank's brand shares many commonalities with the tournament, embodying a lot of passion and determination to deliver the best banking experience for its customers, thus enhancing its status as an icon.
QNB provided visitors to Qatar with an advanced digital banking experience, offering a wide range of services designed with the highest levels of security to be part of this exceptional experience.
During the tournament, QNB organised a series of entertainment and sports activities at the eight stadiums that hosted the World Cup matches. These events targeted football fans from around the world, creating a fantastic atmosphere with a large audience in attendance.
Milestone achievement as MEA's top bank QNB celebrates 60th anniversary
Group CEO Abdullah Mubarak al-Khalifa: "We take pride in the Group's success in establishing itself as a global banking brand and a leading financial institution in Qatar and the region throughout this prolonged journey"
Abdullah Mubarak al-Khalifa, QNB Group CEO.
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