Saudi Arabia - Country Commercial Guide
Banking Systems

Includes special features of this country’s banking system and rules/laws that might impact U.S. business.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

The Kingdom’s financial system consists of the Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority (SAMA, Saudi Arabia’s central bank), licensed retail banks, private investment programs, specialized lending institutions, and the stock market. SAMA was established to supervise banks and financial institutions, manage monetary policy, oversee the financial and insurance systems, and to maintain soundness within the banking system. The banking sector has been organized under regulations stemming from a Royal Decree in 1966.  Bank licenses are issued by the Council of Ministers upon the recommendation from the Finance Minister and a review by SAMA. The government’s stake in commercial banks is less than 10 percent, as adequate monetary flows enable fair price funding.

There are 13 domestic banks licensed in Saudi Arabia: The National Commercial Bank (NCB), the Saudi British Bank (SABB), Saudi Investment Bank, Alinma Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi, Riyad Bank, SAMBA Financial Group, Saudi Hollandi Bank, Al Rajhi Bank, Arab National Bank, Bank Al Bilad, and Bank Al Jazira.  Foreign banks licensed to operate branches in Saudi Arabia include Gulf International Bank (GIB), Emirates (NBD), National Bank of Bahrain (NBB), National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), Muscat Bank, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, J.P. Morgan Chase, the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), State Bank of India (SBI), and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

In the financial services sector, the Capital Market Authority (CMA) licensed 91 foreign and local companies to provide financial and brokerage services. Major companies include BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Securities, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, KKR, Societe Generale, and UBS among others.

 

Regulatory Oversight

SAMA maintains its banking regulations on-line, which commercial banks and financial institutions must follow. Information on the regulatory environment of the banking and financial sector can be found at the SAMA website (http://www.sama.gov.sa/sites/SAMAEN/RulesRegulation/BankingSystem/Pages/Home.aspx). For an overview of SAMA, information can be found at this web link (http://www.sama.gov.sa/sites/samaen/AboutSAMA/Pages/Home.aspx). For information related to the financial markets and the stock exchange, please see the web link of the Capital Market Authority (http://www.cma.org.sa/en/Pages/Implementing_Regulations.aspx).