In spite of Qatar's blockade by some of its Middle Eastern neighbours, Qatar National Bank has regained its position as the biggest bank in the region by Tier 1 capital. John Everington reports.

Qatar National Bank has regained the top spot in the Top 1000 World Banks Middle East regional table for 2019, overtaking United Arab Emirates lender First Abu Dhabi Bank to regain the position it first held in the 2017 rankings. Saudi and Emirati lenders continue to jockey for positions in the top five for the region, with all but one position changing hands in 2019.

QNB returns to pole position with Tier 1 capital of $22.5bn for the 2018 review period, a 12% increase over its 2017 figures, bolstered by a $2.8bn additional Tier 1 perpetual capital note. The bank reported some of its best ever annual results during the review period, despite the ongoing political and economic rift between Qatar and some of its regional neighbours.

First Abu Dhabi Bank’s fall to second position in the Middle Eastern rankings comes as its Tier 1 capital slipped 5% to $19.5bn in 2018. Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank (NCB) retains third place, as its Tier 1 capital rose 4.3% to $17.8bn, with Emirates NBD rising to fourth place (from fifth in the 2018 rankings) with a Tier 1 capital position of $15.1bn.

While NCB holds its position in the 2019 table, other major Saudi banks have seen their rankings impacted by multi-billion-dollar settlements in late 2018 with the country’s tax authority over the payment of religious taxes. Al Rajhi Bank, the world’s largest Islamic bank, was particularly affected, with its Tier 1 capital slipping 13% to $12.9bn, pushing it into fifth position (from fourth position in the 2018 survey) in the region.

Al Rajhi leads the region’s top five banks by return on capital (ROC), however, with 21.2% for the review period. Emirates NBD holds second spot with 18.1%, followed by Qatar’s Masraf Al Rayan and the UAE’s Dubai Islamic Bank with 17.9% and 17.5%, respectively. Lebanon’s Blom Bank, which led the regional rankings in 2018, falls to fifth position, with its ROC falling from 22.7% to 17.2%.

Gulf lenders dominate the Middle East’s highest movers’ table for 2019, with Blom Bank and fellow Lebanese lender Credit Libanais (in eighth and 10th place, respectively) the only banks from outside the Arabian peninsula. Saudi Arabia’s Bank Al Jazira leads the table, with Tier 1 capital growth of 32.5%.

Top 25: Middle East ($M)

Regional  Rank World Rank Bank Country Tier 1 Capital
1 75 Qatar National Bank Qatar 22,529
2 86 First Abu Dhabi Bank United Arab Emirates 19,519
3 93 National Commercial Bank Saudi Arabia 17,763
4 105 Emirates NBD United Arab Emirates 15,139
5 113 Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Arabia 12,948
6 123 Samba Financial Group Saudi Arabia 11,806
7 136 Bank Hapoalim Israel 10,395
8 146 Riyad Bank Saudi Arabia 9,806
9 153 Bank Leumi Israel 9,384
10 159 National Bank of Kuwait Kuwait 9,120
11 161 Saudi British Bank (SABB) Saudi Arabia 8,896
12 162 Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank United Arab Emirates 8,840
13 168 Banque Saudi Fransi Saudi Arabia 8,483
14 184 Dubai Islamic Bank United Arab Emirates 7,839
15 196 Arab National Bank Saudi Arabia 6,946
16 202 Kuwait Finance House Kuwait 6,471
17 214 AlInma Bank Saudi Arabia 5,834
18 231 Mashreqbank United Arab Emirates 5,281
19 236 Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) Qatar 5,192
20 239 Arab Bank Jordan 5,180
21 244 Union National Bank United Arab Emirates 4,980
22 250 Israel Discount Bank Israel 4,858
23 268 BankMuscat Oman 4,592
24 279 Ahli United Bank Bahrain 4,386
25 281 Commercial Bank Qatar 4,358

Highest Movers: Middle East

Regional  Rank World Rank Bank Country Tier 1 Capital %ch. Tier 1 Capital $m
1 348 Bank AlJazira Saudi Arabia 32.52 3,160
2 456 Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait Kuwait 19.59 2,134
3 538 BankDhofar Oman 19.06 1,724
4 879 United Arab Bank United Arab Emirates 18.08 689
5 797 Oman Arab Bank Oman 17.30 886
6 893 Ajman Bank United Arab Emirates 12.41 666
7 75 Qatar National Bank Qatar 12.04 22,529
8 361 BLOM Bank Lebanon 11.48 2,968
9 184 Dubai Islamic Bank United Arab Emirates 10.85 7,839
10 830 Credit Libanais Lebanon 10.61 799

Top Five ROC: Middle East

Regional  Rank World Rank Bank Country Return on capital (%)
1 113 Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Arabia 21.21
2 105 Emirates NBD United Arab Emirates 18.06
3 337 Masraf Al Rayan Qatar 17.92
4 184 Dubai Islamic Bank United Arab Emirates 17.53
5 361 BLOM Bank Lebanon 17.24