The National Bank of Kuwait will celebrate its 70th anniversary on Tuesday, as the first national bank in Kuwait and the Gulf.
NBK was established in 1952 with a capital of KD one million (about USD 3.3 million, with the aim of developing the country’s economy and trade market.
Before 1952, there was only one foreign bank in Kuwait, which was the British Bank of the Middle East, opened in February 1942, during the World War II.
Before establishing NBK, businessmen Ahmad Al-Khaled, Khaled Al-Khaled, Khaled Al-Hamad, Khalifa Al-Ghunaim, Sayyed Ali Sayyed Suleiman, Abdulaziz Al-Saqer, Mohammad Al-Kharafi, Yousif Al-Ghanim and Yousef Al-Fulaij held a meeting with Kuwait’s Amir back then Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, who expressed his support and agreed on the project.
Sheikh Abdullah issued an Amiri decree on establishing the bank on 19 May, 1952 and NBK was launched on 15 November of the same year.
The bank started with simple operations including currency exchange, deposits and withdrawal.
It also provided financial funding for individuals and companies to execute infrastructure projects.
NBK also played a key role in replacing Kuwait’s local currency, changing the currency from the Indian rupee to the Gulf rupee. Later on in 1961, Kuwait’s monetary council changed the currency into the Kuwaiti dinar, creating economic sovereignty in the country.
In the 70s, the bank continued financing development projects including water distillation units, power plants, road networks, oil refineries and building hospitals and schools.
The bank proved strength and proffesionalism in overcoming economic crises, such as the stocks fall of 1982 and the Iraqi Invasion in 1990. The bank was able to manage Kuwait’s loan after the Liberation in 1991 worth USD 5.5 billion.
NBK is one of the top contributors to the country’s development in the past decades, with contributions reaching up to USD half a billion.
The bank was also the first to lauch digital services for clients, something that was of true benefit during the coronavirus crisis.
Although NBK’s operations are centered in the Middle East and Africa, it still aims to boost operations in China, France, Singapore, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK and the USA.
NBK’s new building received an international certificate on energy systems that protect the environment through limiting carbon and gas emissions.