Best Banks in Dubai for Expats

Best Banks in Dubai for Expats

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the largest economies in the Arab world and a dream destination for many expats. The country is generally safe, the weather is fair, and there are lots of job and business opportunities. Additionally, the tax-free system encourages the influx of expats. Even with the introduction of VAT on items like energy drinks and tobacco, the amount is still low. However, if you plan to move to the city, you should consider opening a bank account.

Owning a bank account will make it easier for you to pay rent before you relocate since some apartments require a down payment. You’ll also be able to pay your children’s school fees if you’re moving with your family. This article contains a list of the best banks in Dubai for expats.


Topics Covered:

Can a Foreigner Open a Bank Account in Dubai Without Emirates ID?

Foreigners can open a bank account in Dubai without Emirates ID. However, your residency status will determine the banks you’ll use and the type of account you can open. For instance, you can’t open an offshore or international bank account in the UAE if you’re a non-resident. Also, you’re limited to certain financial products.

Can I Have a Bank Account in Dubai Without a Residence Visa?

If you don’t have a residence visa, you’re limited to opening a savings account. Although the bank will issue a debit card to you, you can’t request a checkbook. More importantly, the bank you choose will require you to have a minimum balance or a maximum balance.

Additionally, the bank may allow you to select the currency you want to hold in the account. This could be the UAE dirhams, US dollars, British Pounds, or Euros. 

Can I Open an Account in the UAE from Abroad?

It may not be particularly easy to open an account in the UAE from abroad because most banks require you to be physically present. An officer in the bank needs to witness the signing of documents so they can be sure you’re not a fraudster. However, you can grant legal permission to a trusted financial advisor to sign the documents on your behalf. 

Requirements to Open a Bank Account in Dubai for Expats

There are several requirements for opening a bank account in Dubai for expats. Here’s a list of the general ones:

  • Your passport and a copy of it 
  • A copy of your visa showing when you entered the UAE 
  • A letter of non-objection from your visa sponsor, which could also be your employer
  • Your Emirates ID or a copy of the application form
  • Proof of address, which could be your tenancy agreement or utility bill
  • A document that states your employer’s information and your salary details
  • A letter of recommendation from your previous bank
  • A copy of your personal bank statement for the last six months
  • Your CV

Things to Consider When Selecting a Bank in Dubai

Before committing your money to the hands of bankers, you should ensure that their services meet your personal needs and lifestyle. However, with a high number of ex-pats operating in Dubai, you’ll likely find a bank that suits you. Below are some things to consider when selecting a bank in Dubai.

Opening Balance

Before opening a bank account in Dubai, you should consider how much you’re willing to deposit. Some banks request a certain amount as an initial deposit while others don’t. So, if you don’t have much money to deposit initially, you should consider banks that permit a zero account.

Minimum Balance

Most banks in Dubai require you to maintain a certain balance or you’ll be penalized. Usually, the penalty corresponds to the account maintenance fees. However, there are banks that don’t require a minimum balance.

Since you’re new in Dubai and would need some time to settle in, you may not be able to maintain a minimum balance. Therefore, you should select banks that accept zero balances to avoid paying unnecessary fees.

Transaction Fees

Your bank should help you save and earn interest on your money. But when it starts charging you for every transaction, you should watch it. Some banks charge for transactions as simple as withdrawals, purchasing items with your debit card, and transferring money to another bank.

If you pay too many fees, it means you’ll lose money faster than you make it. So, ensure that the bank’s transaction fees are convenient. Otherwise, you should look elsewhere.

Interest Rate

One of the advantages of saving money in the bank is the interest it accrues over time. Banks offer competitive rates, which is something that’s worth checking out. Therefore, it’s important to compare rates from different banks before opening an account.

Digital Features

Most banking activities now take place online due to advancements in technology. You can check your balance, pay bills, and transfer money from your mobile phone through the bank’s app or website. 

Also, if your debit card goes missing, you can block transactions from your mobile phone. Some banks even have features that allow you to deposit checks using your smartphone’s camera. 

While these sound great, some banks aren’t keeping up with the tech move. As a result, everything has to be done in the analog style. This means you’ll have to visit the bank whenever you want to make a transaction, which won’t be convenient. So, choose wisely.

Branch and ATM Network

If a bank ticks all your boxes but doesn’t have an ATM or a branch nearby, then it’s all in vain. ATMs offer a convenient means of accessing cash. Therefore, you should make sure the bank has ATMs in places you frequently visit, like the shopping mall, supermarket, minimart, or restaurant. 

Additionally, you should consider whether the bank charges a fee for withdrawing from its ATM. It’s also good to check whether there’s a limit to the number of withdrawals you can make daily, weekly, or monthly.


Best Local Banks in Dubai for Expats

With the growing UAE economy, you should expect top-notch financial services. We’ve compiled a list of the best local banks in Dubai for Expats.

1. First Abu Dhabi Bank

First Abu Dhabi Bank

First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) was established in 2017 following the merger between the National Bank of Abu Dhabi and the First Gulf Bank. It’s the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates and one of the largest banks in the world. It also has a significant presence in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and GCC countries.

Additionally, First Abu Dhabi Bank is customer-friendly and heavily invests in technology and people through its environmental sustainability program. It offers the following products and services to ex-pats:

The bank has 19 branches and 64 ATMs in Dubai.

First Abu Dhabi Bank Website

2. Mashreq Bank

Mashreq Bank

Founded in 1967, Mashreq is the oldest bank in Dubai and remains one of the leading financial institutions in the Middle East. It’s known for being at the forefront of digital banking services and has branches in the US, Europe, Africa, and Asia. This bank also provides Islamic and conventional banking to its customers. 

Expats can enjoy the following products and services from Mashreq Bank:

Mashreq Bank has 10 branches in Dubai and over 100 ATMs.

Mashreq Bank Website

3. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) was established in 1985 following the merger between Khaleeji Commercial Bank, Emirates Commercial Bank, and Federal Commercial Bank. The bank offers mobile, internet, phone, and SMS banking services. No wonder it won the 2022 MEA Finance award for best online banking service. 

ADCB has amazing customer service; you don’t have to stand in long queues when you visit the bank. Also, it has a wide range of products and services for ex-pats, which include:

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank has 13 branches and 79 ATMs in Dubai.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank Website

4. Dubai Islamic Bank

Dubai Islamic Bank

Dubai Islamic Bank was founded in 1975 and is the largest Islamic bank in the United Arab Emirates. It prides itself as the champion of transparency, morality, and equality. Moreover, the bank has won several awards, including an Excellence in Innovation award and Best Islamic Bank in UAE. 

The bank is Shariah compliant and doesn’t have maintenance fees or hidden charges. It offers the following services and products to ex-pats:

Dubai Islamic Bank has 31 branches and over 100 ATMs in Dubai.

Dubai Islamic Bank Website

5. Emirates National Bank of Dubai

Emirates National Bank of Dubai

The merging of two banks – Emirates Bank International and the National Bank of Dubai – resulted in the formation of Emirates National Bank of Dubai. Its shares were first published on the Dubai Financial Market in 2007, an indication that it’s open for business. 

The Asian Banker 500 ranks Emirates National Bank of Dubai as the Strongest Bank in Dubai and the fifth Strongest Bank in the United Arab Emirates. Also, the bank has received the award of Best Bank in UAE for seven consecutive years. 

Emirates NBD is regarded as the best because it offers a wide range of services for both Emirate nationals and expats. Below are some of its products and services for ex-pats:

Emirates National Bank of Dubai has 69 branches and over 100 ATMs in Dubai.

Emirates National Bank of Dubai Website

6. Commercial Bank of Dubai

Commercial Bank of Dubai

The Commercial Bank of Dubai was founded in 1969. It covers wholesale, business, retail, corporate, SME, Islamic, and private banking. The bank also offers digital banking for fund transfers, bill payments, and more.

Expats in Dubai can access the following services and products:

The Commercial Bank of Dubai has 6 branches and 83 ATMs in Dubai.

Commercial Bank of Dubai Website

Best International Banks in Dubai for Expats

Dubai houses a number of international banks that allow you to access global markets, foreign currencies, and low taxes. Below is a list of the best international banks in Dubai for ex-pats.

1. Citibank National Association

Citibank National Association

Citibank is a subsidiary of Citigroup, a multinational corporation that’s headquartered in New York. The bank established its first branch in Dubai in 1964 and offered its services to both individuals and corporate organizations. Additionally, Muslims or people who prefer Sharia products can benefit from the bank’s services.

Additionally, Citibank has competitive interest rates and fees. You can reach its customer service via live chat on its website and phone call. The bank offers the following products and services for ex-pats:

Citibank has 3 branches and 41 ATMs in Dubai.

Citibank National Association Website

2. Standard Chartered Bank

Standard Chartered Bank

Standard Chartered Bank began its operation in the UAE in 1958. Today, it has several branches across the United Arab Emirates, with Dubai standing as its regional hub for the Middle East and Africa. The bank has several products for conventional and Islamic banking and has won several awards for excellence.

The bank offers these products and services to ex-pats:

Standard Chartered Bank has 3 branches and 29 ATMs in Dubai.

Standard Chartered Bank Website

3. HSBC Bank Middle East


HSBC Bank Middle East

Established in 1946, HSBC is one of the largest financial institutions in the world. The bank has a long history and has moved from the hands of one government to another. However, in 2016, it moved its head office and location of incorporation to Dubai.

HSBC serves 63 countries in North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Asia. Expats can benefit from the following products and services:

HSBC Bank Middle East has 8 branches and 118 ATMs in Dubai.

HSBC Bank Middle East Website

4. Habib Bank AG Zurich

Habib Bank AG Zurich

Habib Bank AG Zurich (HBZ) is a Swiss commercial bank with offices in the UK, UAE, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, Canada, Kenya, and Pakistan. It began business in the United Arab Emirates in 1974 and offers highly optimized services to individuals, SMEs, and large organizations.

Furthermore, HBZ has over 120 online banking services and you can manage and monitor your account through the secure e-banking platform. The bank offers these services and products:

Habib Bank AG Zurich has 6 branches in Dubai.

Habib Bank AG Zurich Website

5. Royal Bank of Canada

Royal Bank of Canada

Royal Bank of Canada is a financial service leader in Canada and across the globe. It also has the best credit ratings globally. The bank was established in 1869 and has a significant presence in Dubai.

As with modern banks, the Royal Bank of Canada has a remarkable online presence that allows customers to access banking services from their devices. It received the J.D. Power Canada 2022 award of Best in Customer Satisfaction for its mobile banking app.

The Royal Bank of Canada offers these services:

The bank has 1 branch in Dubai.

Royal Bank of Canada Website

6. Arab African International Bank

Arab African International Bank

The Arab African International Bank was founded in 1964. It was the first Arab multinational bank in Egypt. The bank is customer-centric, making it easy for customers to access products and services at their convenience. 

Also, the bank offers a range of banking solutions for SMEs and corporate organizations. There’s 1 branch in Dubai and another in Abu Dhabi. You may want to visit the bank to set up an account that’ll give you access to its online banking platform.

Arab African International Bank Website 

Closing Thoughts on the Best Banks in Dubai for Expats

The United Arab Emirates is a financial hub and home to some of the leading banks in the world. Expats will love it there as the locals are friendly and hospitable. Also, the best banks in Dubai offer a wide range of financial services to ex-pats so that they can access funds to meet their daily needs. 

In addition, while you’re in Dubai, you should be able to send money to your loved ones in a different country. We listed the best international banks in Dubai that can facilitate your international transactions and assist you in accessing global markets. This is useful for small or medium-sized business owners.

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