Banking in UAE

Banking in UAE

Banking in UAE constitutes a dynamic and multifaceted sector that plays a pivotal role in the country’s financial landscape. Within this realm, various types of financial institutions, including traditional banks, specialized finance companies, and intermediaries, are granted licenses to operate and cater to the diverse needs of individuals and businesses. This introductory paragraph offers an overview of the intricate banking system in the United Arab Emirates, encompassing the diverse array of institutions that contribute to its vibrancy and serve as key pillars of the nation’s economic stability.

Banking in UAE

Central Bank

The Central Bank of the UAE, known as CBUAE, assumes a critical role as the supervisory and regulatory authority within the banking and insurance sector of the United Arab Emirates. Its primary mission is to foster financial and monetary stability while enhancing the overall efficiency and resilience of the financial system.

The comprehensive regulatory scope of the Central Bank encompasses various entities, including conventional banks, Islamic banks, financing companies, exchange businesses, representative offices, retail payment services, cards schemes, wholesale payment systems, crowd funding platforms, retail payment systems, stored value facilities, and a spectrum of insurance-related entities such as national insurance companies, Takaful insurance companies, foreign insurance companies, insurance brokers, insurance agents, surveyors and loss adjusters, insurance consultants, actuaries, TPA companies, prices comparison websites, and insurance producers.

This extensive purview underscores the Central Bank’s commitment to ensuring the integrity and stability of the financial and insurance sectors in the UAE.

CBUAE Rulebook

The CBUAE Rulebook serves as a comprehensive repository of regulations, standards, and guidelines issued by the Central Bank of the UAE. Its primary objective is to facilitate easy access to compliance-related materials, thus aiding individuals and businesses operating within the financial sector in remaining informed and compliant.

Notable features and advantages of the Rulebook include:

  1. A valuable reference for stakeholders within the financial industry.
  2. Empowerment of the public through access to content focusing on consumer protection regulations and standards.
  3. Accessibility across various devices and web browsers, available in both Arabic and English.
  4. User-friendly navigation through a dynamic reference system that converts references into clickable links.
  5. A versioning system that allows users to stay current with evolving regulations.

This recently launched Rulebook, accessible on the #CentralBankUAE website, further enhances transparency and communication with licensed financial institutions, consumers, partners, and service users, fostering a more informed and compliant financial landscape.

Banking in UAE

Conventional Banks

Conventional banks operating in the United Arab Emirates are granted licenses by the Central Bank of the UAE, enabling them to offer a range of services, which encompass:

  1. Local banking services for individuals.
  2. Foreign banking services for individuals.
  3. Local corporate banking services.
  4. Foreign corporate banking services.
  5. Specialized banks that cater to specific financial needs and services.

Like Banking in UAE, you may also like to read about The UAE National Currency.

Islamic Banks

In the UAE, the provision of Islamic banking services is governed by the principles of Shari’a law, as outlined in Federal Law No. 6 of 1985 pertaining to Islamic Banks, Financial Institutions, and Investment Companies. According to Article 3 of this law, Islamic banks are authorized to engage in various aspects of banking, commercial, financial, and investment services and operations. They are entitled to provide a comprehensive range of services that align with the regulations laid out in Federal Law No. 10 of 1980.

The Central Bank’s licensing ensures that the Islamic banking sector adheres strictly to Islamic Shari’a principles. Islamic banking services encompass the following categories:

  1. Local banking services for individuals.
  2. Foreign banking services for individuals.
  3. Local corporate banking services.
  4. Foreign corporate banking services.
  5. Specialized banks dedicated to specific financial functions and services.

Opening a Bank Account

Opening a bank account in the UAE is a straightforward process for both citizens and residents. The documentation requirements are as follows:

For Citizens:

  1. A copy of the passport or family book.
  2. A salary certificate or a no-objection letter from the employer.

For Residents:

  1. A copy of the passport with a valid residence visa.
  2. A copy of the Emirates ID card.
  3. A salary certificate or a no-objection letter from the employer or sponsor.

Additionally, citizens and residents can open joint accounts with one another, with the specific procedures varying depending on the chosen bank.


The UAE has implemented the use of the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) since 2012. IBAN is mandatory for all electronic payments and receipts within and outside the UAE, excluding credit card payments. Each account holds a unique IBAN, adhering to the ISO 13616 standard. Banks are responsible for informing their account holders about their distinctive IBANs.

For more information and related resources, individuals can refer to the list of licensed banks, financial institutions, and insurance companies, as well as explore the legislative framework provided by the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates.

Banking in UAE


Moneychangers play a significant role in currency exchange and money remittance in the UAE, regulated by Central Bank Resolution No. 123/7/1992, issued on 29 November 1992. The resolution outlines key requirements and regulations for entities engaged in money-changing activities.

According to this resolution:

  1. Only institutions and companies established in accordance with the provisions of the Commercial Companies’ Law are authorized to conduct money-changing as a business. These companies are required to have a national shareholding of at least 60% of the total paid-up capital, with a minimum capital of AED one or two million, depending on the intended scope of activities.

  2. Individuals seeking to engage in money-changing business must be Emirati citizens aged 21 or older.

Expatriate residents in the UAE have the option to send money to their home countries through moneychangers or their banks. When using moneychangers for remittance, they may need to provide a copy of their Emirates ID and, in some cases, proof of income.

The services offered by exchange businesses encompass:

  • Buying and selling foreign currency and tourist cheques.
  • Conducting remittance operations in both local and foreign currencies.
  • Facilitating wage payments by connecting to the Wages Protection system.

Finance Companies

Central Bank Board of Directors Resolutions No. 58/3/96, dated 14 April 1996, and No. 165/06/2004, dated 6 December 2004, serve as the regulatory framework for both conventional and Islamic finance companies in the UAE. These finance companies engage in several significant financing activities, including:

  1. Extending advances and personal loans for various personal consumption needs.
  2. Providing financial support for trade and businesses, which involves offering credit and issuing customer guarantees.
  3. Participating in capital contributions for projects, stocks, bonds, and certificates of deposit.

It is important to note that the contribution of a finance company to capital projects or the issuance of stocks, bonds, or certificates of deposit must not exceed 7% of its total capital. Additionally, the minimum paid-up capital for a finance company is set at AED 35 million, with a requirement for national shareholding to constitute at least 60% of the total paid-up capital, in adherence to Federal Law No. 8 of 1984 and any subsequent amendments.


In conclusion, banking in UAE serves as a cornerstone of the nation’s robust financial infrastructure. The diverse and evolving banking sector in the United Arab Emirates plays a pivotal role in facilitating economic growth, offering a wide array of financial services to both residents and businesses.

Exploring banking in UAE reveals a dynamic landscape, with numerous banks and financial institutions catering to the diverse needs of customers. The accessibility of modern banking services, coupled with innovative digital solutions, enhances the overall banking experience for individuals and businesses alike in the UAE.

As individuals consider their financial needs, understanding the intricacies of banking in UAE becomes essential. Whether it’s opening an account, exploring investment opportunities, or accessing loans, the UAE banking sector provides comprehensive solutions, contributing to the country’s reputation as a global financial hub.

Moreover, the regulatory framework governing banking in UAE ensures stability and transparency, fostering confidence among customers. The continuous evolution of banking practices in the UAE reflects the commitment to staying at the forefront of financial innovation, creating a conducive environment for economic prosperity.

In summary, banking in UAE is not merely a service but an integral part of the nation’s economic landscape. The diverse range of financial services, coupled with a commitment to innovation and regulatory excellence, positions banking in UAE as a vital contributor to the overall well-being and growth of the country.