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Business Leader of the Week: Meet Hana Al Rostamani, FAB boss & UAE’s banking biggie

IFM_FAB boss Hana Al Rostamani
After Hana Al Rostamani's appointment, FAB's net profits ended at USD 3.4 billion by the 2021 end, 19% up from the 2020 tally

First Abu Dhabi Bank, which is the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates, came into existence in 2017 after a merger of First Gulf Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

First Abu Dhabi Bank, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, offers financial solutions, products and services through its Corporate and Investment Banking and Personal Banking franchises in the regions of Asia-Pacific, Europe, two Americas, Middle East and Africa.

The bank, in 2019, started international expansion from Saudi Arabia. However, it had a bump on the way as in the same year, Qatar filed a lawsuit against three financial institutions that were allegedly involved in the 2017 plans to devalue the Qatari riyal. The suit against First Abu Dhabi Bank and Saudi Arabia’s Samba Bank was filed in New York, while the petition against another private bank, Banque Havilland, was filed in London.

However, it didn’t stop the FAB’s expansion activities and the bank has recently been ranked by Global Finance as the safest financial institution in the UAE and the Middle East. The bank also featured in The Banker’s ‘Top 1000 World Banks 2020 List’, where it also got ranked as number one in the UAE, apart from being the second-best in the Middle East and 85th across the globe.

FAB was also ranked first in the UAE, fourth among the Gulf countries and 303rd globally in the Forbes annual ranking of the world’s 2000 largest public companies.

In January 2021, Hana Al Rostamani was appointed as the CEO of the FAB. After her appointment, the venture’s net profits ended at USD 3.4 billion by the 2021 end, 19% up from the 2020 tally. And the growth path has been achieving new heights under her able guidance.

Who is Hana Al Rostamani?

  • Under Hana Al Rostamani, FAB, apart from being the UAE’s largest bank and featuring in the coveted list of the world’s largest and safest financial institutions, has currently over USD 300 billion in total assets
  • Hana Al Rostamani, who is FAB’s first female CEO, has been recognised in the Middle East’s banking circle for being a change-oriented leader, as she focuses on embedding a culture driven by innovation, diversity and inclusion
  • She has over 25 years of experience in the domain of banking and financial services.
  • Till January 2021, Hana Al Rostamani was the Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer and Group Head of Personal Banking at FAB
  • Hana Al Rostamani, who has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Master’s in Information Management from the United States-based George Washington University, was credited for leading the transformation of FAB’s consumer bank, where she instilled a customer and digital-first mindset among her colleagues and team members
  • She previously held various leadership roles at First Gulf Bank, Citibank and AW Rostamani Group
  • Hana Al Rostamani is the current Chair of the Global Council on the Sustainable Development Goals, with her key interest area being development goal 7, officially known as ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’
  • She is also a Board member of entities like Buna, the Arab Monetary Fund’s cross-border payment system, the Institute of International Finance (IIF), the renowned academic institution named International Institute for Management Development (IMD) and the Executive Board of the US-UAE Business Council
  • Hana Al Rostamani also got featured in Forbes’ Middle East’s list of the region’s most powerful businesswomen, where she held the first rank
  • The FAB boss is also overseeing FAB’s global footprint, which, as of August 2023, has spanned 20 markets across five continents
  • Under Hana Al Rostamani’s decisive leadership, FAB recorded net profits of Dhs4.2 billion in the three months to June 2023, a 61% year-on-year (YoY) increase compared to the same period in 2022

Hana Al Rostamani On FAB’s Road Ahead
First Abu Dhabi Bank is open to acquisition opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) and in markets beyond as long as the deals make commercial sense and create value for the UAE’s biggest lender by assets, Rostamani told The National in an interview.

“If it adds value, certainly we will look into it,” she said of a potential acquisition of an international lender, while declining to clarify whether the bank actively pursuing a deal as of now.

The lender is looking at opportunities that will help it to build and strengthen its portfolio further, apart from entering a new market, Rostamani informed the media outlet.

“So essentially, when we look at any acquisition, we broadly look at these three areas and where [the deal] fits within those three spectrums. That really adds up [to] our overall strategy,” she remarked further.

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