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6 Best Banks In Saudi Arabia

The best banks in Saudi Arabia provides the best banking services to residents and expats in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority (SAMA) is the Central Bank of Saudi Arabia. It was set up to handle banks and other financial institutions, run the country’s monetary policy, watch over the insurance system, and keep the banking system stable.

Here’s an expat guide to banking in Saudi Arabia for a full overview of the banking system there.

If you want to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, which is what I specialize in, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or use WhatsApp (+44-7393-450-837).

Banking System in Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, the council of ministers gives out banking licenses based on what SAMA and the Finance Minister say. Because of this, there are a lot of Saudi banks in the big towns of Saudi Arabia. These banks give all the same financial services as foreign banks.

Moody’s, a credit rating service, said in March 2018 that the future for Saudi Arabia’s banking system is stable. This is because the country’s economy is growing again, and good profits and spending by the government are also reasons why the forecast is stable.

Saudi Arabia has about 24 banks, 12 of which are local Saudi banks and 12 of which are branches of banks from other countries.

The Saudi Riyal is the country’s legal currency. It is based on the US dollar, so its value goes up and down with the dollar. Saudi banks work differently than Western banks.

They open at 8 AM and close at 1 PM, but some banks restart at 4:30 PM and close at 6:30 PM. All banks are closed on Friday.

6 Best Banks In Saudi Arabia

1. Saudi National Bank

Overview

Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, is home to the headquarters of the Saudi National Bank Group, also known as the SNB Group. This bank is one of the best banks in Saudi Arabia.

It all started out in December 1953 when the National Commercial Bank (NCB) was established. At the moment, it is the most important financial organization in all of Saudi Arabia.

best banks in saudi arabia
Clients lining up inside a bank in Saudi Arabia.

After completing what was then one of the biggest mergers in the area, between the National Commercial Bank and the Samba Financial Group, in 2021, the newly formed SNB emerged as a renowned financial institution. The SNB today has subsidiaries and affiliates in a total of 8 different nations.

Some of the company’s subsidiaries, such as Samba Islamic Banking and the Saudi National Commercial Bank of Bahrain, provide financial and insurance products and services.

The Samba Real Estate Company and the Al-Mousim Travel Group are two examples of businesses that are active in other markets.

73% of the Saudi Arabian National Bank is held by the Saudi Arabian government via the General Organization for Social Insurance and the Public Investment Fund.

The Saudi Arabian government, operating via the Ministry of Finance and its Public Investment Fund (PIF), made the acquisition of a controlling share in the bank in the year 1999.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SNB) is heavily engaged in assisting the Saudi Arabian government in achieving its objectives, with a special focus on the “Vision 2030” initiative. As a result, the strategy of SNB is intricately intertwined with the ambitions of Saudi Vision.

It is able to support historical agreements and important projects because to its position as the largest institutional and specialized financier in the kingdom. These types of financing are essential for aiding the economic evolution of the nation.

Because of its robust business model and solid liquidity position, the SNB is able to assist the flow of commerce and finance between national, regional, and international markets on a local and regional level.

Bank Assets

The SNB projected that its NPAT would reach 1.20 billion US dollars by the end of the first quarter of 2022. This is an increase of around 32 percent when compared to the 900 million US dollars that it recorded during the same time period the year before. 

As of the year 2014, the shares of the bank have been trading on the stock market in Saudi Arabia.

The bank now has 7.4 million clients, who have together earned the institution SAR 9.1 billion (USD 2.4 Billion) in revenue during the first half of 2022.

The bank asserts that the change in NPAT from the first quarter of fiscal year 2022 to the first quarter of fiscal year 2021 was indicative of a 34% increase in net income.

This was a result of both a rise in the total operating income as well as a reduction in the total operating expenses.

To reach a total of USD 245.18 billion, the bank’s assets had a year-over-year increase of 54% during the most recent period, compared to where they were at the end of the same quarter in the previous year. 

The current profits came to 0.98 Saudi Riyals per share, which is less than the 1.1 Saudi Riyals per share that were brought in during the same period last year.

In addition, the total operating costs increased by 52% when the net impairment charge for projected credit losses was taken into account.

2. Saudi British Bank

Overview

The British Bank of the Middle East (BME) was first created the same year, in 1950. In 1978, this institution served as the forerunner of what would later become the Saudi British Bank.

In 1959, the British and British Market Exchange (BBME) was acquired by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC).

In 1976, the Saudi Central Bank began implementing its comprehensive policy of banking sector Saudization in an effort to counteract the dominance of foreign banks inside the sector as well as the negative impacts that this dominance had on the Saudi economy. 

As a direct consequence of this, it became mandatory for all international bank branches to incorporate themselves in Saudi Arabia, and it limited the equity shares that parent companies may hold in their subsidiaries to no more than forty percent.

In 1978, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) opened a branch in Saudi Arabia under the new name Saudi British Bank.

This was done to make it possible for Saudis to buy shares in the bank. The license was modified to reflect a 60/40 split between Saudi Arabia and HSBC.

The Saudi Arabian British Bank (SABB) has lately increased its branch network. On May 16, 2018, an agreement for SABB to buy Alawwal bank was signed, and on June 16, 2019, the merger was successfully completed.

This bank’s main office may also be found in Riyadh, where the city is located. There are around 3,200 people employed here.

Banking Products and Services

Retail customers and businesses in the corporate sector may take use of SABB’s extensive selection of banking products and services, which includes corporate credit facilities, checking and savings accounts, consumer and mortgage loans, cash and payments management, trade financing, and many more.

Check out our article about the best savings accounts in Saudi Arabia.

Bank Assets

The merger between Alawwal and SABB resulted in the establishment of the third-largest bank in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2019, with a market capitalization of $17.2 billion. As a direct consequence of this, the Alawwal bank has now ceased operations. 

Saudi British Bank is one of the best banks in Saudi Arabia. 2021 was a profitable year overall for the bank, with a net profit of USD 851.84 million. This is an increase of 1.96 billion U.S. dollars, or 176.7%, compared to the loss of 1.11 billion U.S. dollars for the same period in 2020.

The operational income for the year that ended on December 31, 2021, was 1.97 billion US dollars. This figure represents a decrease of USD 250.07 million, or 10.6%, when compared to the operating income of USD 1.34 billion for the same time in 2020.

When the year 2021 came to a close, total loans and advances amounted to 44.6 billion U.S. dollars, representing a 3.80 billion U.S. dollar, or 9.3 percent increase from the 40.8 billion U.S. dollars recorded when the year 2020 came to a close.

At the end of 2021, deposits from clients were USD 49.7 billion, representing a decrease of USD 820 million, or 1.2%, from the USD 50.52 billion that had been deposited the previous year.

However, by the end of 2021, they had accumulated USD 1.09 billion more in investments than they had at the end of 2020, which was USD 17.26 billion. This is a 6.7% increase.

At the end of 2021, the total value of assets was USD 72.45 billion, which represented a 1.5% decrease from the USD 73.54 billion that was recorded as the asset value at the end of 2020. 

1.56 Saudi Riyals are being earned per share, compared to 2.02 Saudi Riyals being earned per share during the same time period in the previous year.

3. Alinma Bank

Overview

Alinma Bank, a joint stock organization based in Saudi Arabia, was founded in accordance with a royal order, which was later followed by a ministerial decision in 2006. 

The share capital of the bank was calculated using a nominal share price of SAR 10, which resulted in a total of SAR 20 billion and 1.5 billion shares. 

Founding shareholders of Alinma Bank include the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the Saudi Arabian Public Pension Agency (PPA), and the Saudi Arabian General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI).

They each own an equal portion, which results in a combined 30% ownership of the bank’s share capital. The remaining seventy percent of the bank’s shares were made available for purchase by the general public in the month of April 2008.

In addition to a widespread network of branches and automated teller machines (ATMs), the bank offers client assistance through the Alinma Phone, Alinma Internet, Alinma App, and  Alinma Mobile for mobile devices. All of these options are available across the nation. 

Here’s a full guide about getting money out of Saudi Arabia using your mobile devices.

The Alinma Bank is one of the best banks in Saudi Arabia. It is also one of the largest employers in Saudi Arabia, with over 2,658 workers employed throughout its network of 80 locations.

Banking Products and Services

Alinma provides customers with a comprehensive range of retail, corporate, and investment banking services that are in accordance with Shariah law. 

The retail banking, treasury and investment, corporate banking, and brokerage business sectors are the ones that make up Alinma Bank’s revenue streams.

Bank customers may take use of a wide range of financing for real estate, automobiles, and educational expenses; retail services, including savings, checking, education, and investment accounts; cash management services; and more.

Bank Assets

The bank recorded a net income of SAR 3,798 Million in 2018, which is an increase from SAR 3,493 Million in 2017, and the bank reported a net profit of SAR 2,517 Million in 2018, which is an increase from SAR 2,011 Million in 2017.

In the first half of 2022, which ended on June 30, 2022, Alinma Bank recorded a net profit of USD 465.46 million. This represents an increase of 29.4% when compared to the net profit of USD 356.69 million reported during the same time period in the previous year.

best banks in saudi arabia
Saudi Arabian bankers inside a bank.

The company’s net assets increased by 12.5%, moving from 43.64 billion dollars the previous year to 49.11 billion dollars today.

The total value of the capital portfolio had increased to USD 34.9 billion as of the 30th of June 2022, representing a 9.7% increase from USD 31.82 billion one year earlier.

As a direct result of this, the net income generated from finance and investments increased from USD 664.51 million for the same period in the year before to USD 724.87 million, representing an increase of 11.8%. In addition, consumer deposits increased by 3.6%, going from 38.48 billion USD the previous year to 34.68 billion USD in the current year.

According to the financial figures, the coverage ratio of non-performing loans reached 150.1% during the quarter, which is a considerable increase from 139.7% during the same time previous year.

4. Banque Saudi Francis

Overview

Banque Saudi Fransi (BSF) is a Saudi Arabian joint stock corporation that was established in 1977 in accordance with a royal edict.

On the other hand, it didn’t start doing business until September 5, 1989, which was a week after the Banque de l’Indochine et de Suez activities moved to Saudi Arabia. 

The Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank is the second-largest bank in France and the seventh-largest bank in the Eurozone in terms of total equity. Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank owns Banque Saudi Fransi.

Over 3,000 people are employed by BSF, which runs a banking network that spans the whole of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and consists of over 120 locations. In the year 2020, the bank reported a profit of 410 million US dollars.

Banking Products and Services

The goal of the BSF is to provide all possible varieties of commercial banking services to clients located in the local as well as the international market. 

It also offers services in the areas of business and investment banking. It also offers financial services, including Islamic banking, corporate banking, retail banking, commercial banking, overdrafts, consumer loans, time deposits, savings accounts, overdraft protection, time deposits, checking accounts, and notice deposits.

Moreover, the bank also provides a variety of financial services, including asset management and investment funds, in addition to the brokerage services that are made available via its subsidiary Saudi Fransi Capital.

Bank Assets

At the end of March 2017, Banque Saudi Francis has accumulated a total asset value of SAR 204.4 billion via its acquisitions. During the same time period, the deposits made by consumers totaled 158.5 billion SAR.

During 2018, BSF recorded a net income of SAR 3,307.054 Million, which was lower than the SAR 3,531.884 Million it declared in 2017. In 2018, the total assets held by the BSF amounted to 190 billion SAR. 

The bank recorded a rise of 9% in overall operating income, which drove the net profit for the second quarter of 2022 up to USD 223 million from USD 204.83 million in the same period of the previous year.

The overall income from special commissions, financing, and investment was USD 80 million more than it was during the same quarter the previous year.

Revenue from net special commissions was USD 380 million, representing an increase of 9% over the previous year.

5. Riyad Bank 

Overview

Riyad Bank is one of the best banks in Saudi Arabia in terms of the assets it now has. The bank was established in 1957. 

The equity of the corporation is owned by the Saudi government, which controls 51% of it.

The National Commercial Bank (NCB), which is the biggest lender in the nation measured by assets, and Riyad Bank started contemplating a merger in December of last year. 

best banks in saudi arabia
Saudi Arabian bankers seen working.

If all had gone according to plan, it would have led to the establishment of the most financially powerful financial institution in the kingdom, which would have had assets of 182 billion dollars. But alas, this did not turn out to be the case, since the merger was unsuccessful in 2019.

Additionally, Riyad Bank pioneered innovative payment technologies and began offering contactless wristbands in the month of March 2018.

Bank was awarded as the “Best Retail Bank in Saudi Arabia 2018” by Global Banking and Finance Review.

Banking Products and Services

Bank offers both retail and corporate clients, which may include small and medium-sized businesses, an extensive selection of goods and services, including those geared specifically at corporate clients.

This bank provides a broad variety of products and services that are totally consistent with Islamic Sharia in order to suit the expectations of both retail and corporate clients. As a result, the Saudi government owns 51% of the company’s equity.

Therefore, Riyad Bank is widely regarded as the preeminent source for financing and syndicated loan arrangement in the oil and petrochemical sectors, as well as for the vast majority of the kingdom’s most important infrastructure projects.

Additionally, it is a leading institution in a variety of KSA financial and investment sectors.

The bank conducts its business via a distributed network that includes more than 2,700 automated teller machines (ATMs), 32,000 point-of-sale terminals, and 340 branches, of which 79 are women-only locations.

There are around 6300 employees working for the bank.

Bank Assets

At the end of the month of March in 2017, the total assets that the bank had acquired amounted to SAR 216.323 billion.

At the end of the month of March in 2017, this bank had a total of 154.187 billion Saudi Riyals in client deposits.

For the fiscal year that concluded in December 2018, the Bank recorded a net income of 4.716 billion Saudi Riyals, representing a 19.5% increase over the previous year’s figure.

The total value of assets was 229,900 Million Saudi Riyals as of the end of December 2018, representing a growth of 6.3% compared to the end of the previous year, 2017.

After taking into account all of their expenses, the bank reported that their net income had increased by 27.8% as of the year 2022. 

Operating income climbed by 3.2%, mostly as a result of higher fees and commissions; this comprises net earnings from the sale of non-trading assets as well as net revenue from special commissions.

It was possible to obtain 34.3% of operational efficiency, and the cost of risk went from 1.07% down to 0.41%. As a consequence of this, the total amount of net loans and advances reached 57.72 billion US dollars, a 13.6% increase over the previous year’s total. This rise includes both consumer and commercial loans.

The total amount of money deposited by customers rose by 4.3% year over year to reach 56.39 billion USD.

The entire assets went risen by 5.0% year on year, which allowed them to go up to 86.72 billion USD.

Capitalization was strong, with 15.8% Tier 1 and 19.0% total CARs. 98.6% loan-to-deposit ratio and 168% LCR.

6. Al Rajhi Bank

Overview

The Al Rajhi Bank, which was established in 1957, is now the Islamic financial institution that has the most capital on its balance sheet. As such, it is one of the best banks in Saudi Arabia.

The bank was established by the Al Rajhi family, who is now considered to be one of the wealthiest families in Saudi Arabia.

The bank is one of the major joint-stock firms in the country and a prominent participant in KSA’s economy. It has a total assets under management (AUM) of more than SAR 330.5 billion and more than 600 branches. 

In addition to its headquarters in Riyadh, the company operates out of more than 600 different sites and has six different regional offices. In addition to its locations in Kuwait and Jordan, Al Rajhi Bank also has branches in the countries of Malaysia and Syria. 

The Al Rajhi Trading and Exchange Company was once a mix of banking and commercial firms, but since 1978 it has acted as the umbrella company for the bank. Since that time, it has also been known as the Al Rajhi Trading and Exchange Company.

The company became a joint stock corporation in 1987, and after another year of operation, it changed its name to the Al Rajhi Banking and Investment Corporation. 

It is estimated that around 75% of the company’s shares are held by the general public and are listed on the Saudi Arabian Stock Exchange (Tadawul). Members of the Al Rajhi family are some of the most influential shareholders in the bank.

In September of 2016, Al Rajhi became the first bank in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to provide mortgages that were partly sponsored by the state. This was part of the Saudi Arabian government’s goal to encourage citizens to own their own homes. 

As the Saudi government began to execute its comprehensive social reform agenda and the National Transformation Programme, the bank started to diversify its income streams with intentions to move its emphasis away from consumer banking and more toward mid-corporate and small and medium-sized company (SME) enterprises.

This occurred concurrently with the Saudi government’s implementation of its wide social reform agenda and the National Transformation Programme. 

If you’re thinking of investing your money in any of the banks mentioned here, you may find this guide to investing in Saudi Arabia helpful.

Banking Products and Services

Al Rajhi Bank is a financial institution that offers a wide variety of banking services to its customers, some of which include deposits, loans, investment advising, trading in stocks, remittances, credit cards, and consumer financing. 

All of the necessary services are provided in accordance with Islamic principles. As a direct consequence of this, the bank’s operations in the Middle East have been the recipients of several honors. 

Bank Assets

In 2016, consumer banking contributed 70 percent of Al Rajhi’s total assets, 55 to 60 percent of the company’s income, and 18 percent of the mortgage market in the kingdom.

The bank said that the rise in net income was 23.9% higher than the previous year as a consequence of strong growth on the bank’s top line as well as greater operational efficiency. In addition, the return on equity reached 23.8%, which is a 1.3% improvement from where it was the year before.

An improvement in net finance and investment revenue, as well as an increase in the fees that banks charge for their services, were the primary contributors to an increase in operational income of 17%.

The year-over-year gain in operational effectiveness was 2.3%, bringing the total up to 25.4%. The quality of the credit is still excellent, as shown by the low levels of both the non-performing financing ratio and the non-performing financing coverage ratio: 0.62% and 307.8% respectively.

The cost of risk climbed to 0.48%, representing an increase of 19 basis points year over year. The total amount of money raised via net financing increased by 8.51 billion dollars, or 7%, from 120.51 billion dollars to 129.01 billion dollars.

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