The banking system in the UAE consists of the central bank, and national (i.e. local) and foreign banks operating within the country. National banks are banks that are licensed in accordance with provision of Union Law No. (10) of 1980. Foreign banks are banks that have been granted licenses from the central bank to operate within the country. As of November 2021, the UAE had 22 national banks and 37 foreign banks operating in the country. These banks had a total 587 branches of which 513 were branches of national banks. The UAE’s Central Bank functions similarly to central banks across the world: they engage in monetary policy to achieve “financial stability and sustainable economic growth” for the UAE. Consumers will almost always be interacting with the national and foreign banks, so this page serves as a resource for anyone looking to learn more about banks in the UAE or anyone looking for helpful day to day information such as branch locations, and important bank information.

Key Statistics about banks in the UAE

  • Total number of banks: 59 (22 national, 37 foreign)
  • Total Assets: AED 3,295 billion (approx. $900 billion U.S. Dollars)
  • Total Deposits: AED 1,967 billion (approx. $536 billion U.S. Dollars)
  • Total Bank Credit: AED 1,618 billion (approx. $441 billion U.S. Dollars)
  • Total Employees of the Banking Industry: 32,753
  • Total Number of Cheques Cleared: 21.2 million (in the year 2020)
  • UAE Residents comprise 72% of assets and 88% of deposits
  • UAE Residents had AED 162 billion in deposits (approx. $44 billion U.S. Dollars)
  • There is only one investment bank operating in the UAE according to the Central Bank’s definition and that is the Emirates Investment Bank PJSC, which has one branch in Dubai.

This chart summarizes the trends in key statistics for banks in the UAE:


In addition to categorizing banks in the UAE as national and foreign, banks can also be broken into conventional and Islamic. As of November 2021, conventional banks in the UAE represented 82% of the assets and 79% of deposits of the banks in the country and as shown below, have been the primary source of growth within the banking sector of the UAE for many years.


Finally, the lending activities of the banks in the UAE is skewed towards the private sector, which makes up 80% of the domestic credit outstanding as of November 2021. The government and public sectors each represent 10% of domestic credit outstanding. The below chart shows a summary of the breakdown of domestic credit extension.


Bank Branches in the UAE

As mentioned earlier, there are 587 bank branches located in the UAE. The majority of these branches are in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. The below chart summarizes the distribution of bank branches in the country.


Largest Banks in the UAE by Assets


The 11 largest banks operating in the UAE collectively had over $540 billion U.S. dollars of assets as of this writing. In the below section all of these banks are listed with links to helpful information on each of them.

Complete Listing of National Banks in the UAE

Top Foreign Banks in UAE

Currency of the UAE

The name of the currency in the United Arab Emirates is the Dirham. It is often referred to in short-hand as “AED” which stands for Dirham of Arab Emirates, and is also often shortened to Dhs or DH. The Dirham is pegged to the U.S. Dollar at an exchange rate of 3.673 Dirhams to one U.S. dollar. The below chart shows the value of U.S. Dollars at different amounts relative to Dirhams. For more information go here: USD to AED History.


UAE is a very international country and known for its large expat community. Because of this many of the country’s residents frequently need to convert their AED into other currencies of interest. You will find on the following pages helpful information on converting the USD, Euro and Pakistani Rupee to AED.