The business was grown out of the British Bank of the Middle East, which HSBC acquired in 1959. Its first branch in Bahrain opened in 1944. Today, HSBC in Bahrain provides a wide range of banking services for both corporate and individual customers.
HSBC’s presence in the Middle East dates back to 1959 when it acquired the British Bank of the Middle East. The bank, founded in London in 1889, led financial services in the region and for decades was the only bank committed to supporting the area.
The 1940s was a period of great change with the decline of operations in Iran (which closed in 1952) and expansion into the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant.
The bank was a leader in financial services in the states that are now referred to as the Gulf Cooperation Council, opening branches in Kuwait (1942), Bahrain (1944), Dubai (1946), Oman (Muscat 1948) and Saudi Arabia (Al Khobar and Jeddah 1950)
Branches were also opened in the cities of the Fertile Crescent: Beirut (1946), Damascus (1947), Tripoli (1948), Amman (1949) and Aleppo (1951).
By 1959, when the bank was acquired by the Group, it had added more offices in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya, Qatar, Tunisia, Morocco and UAE.
During the 1960s and 1970s the bank left Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya after nationalisation of the banking sectors.
In 1978, the bank’s business in Saudi Arabia was transferred to a new bank, the Saudi British Bank, where the Group took a 40 per cent share. The Group also took a 40 per cent share in the Hong Kong Egyptian Bank S.A.E, which was established in 1982.
In 1994, the bank's head office was transferred to Jersey and in 1999 it was renamed HSBC Bank Middle East. In 2001, the Group’s shareholding in Egypt increased to 94.5 per cent.