Top 10 Banks in Kuwait

From the establishment of the first commercial bank in the early 1950s to the creation of one of the most sophisticated financial industries in the Middle East, the evolution of Kuwait’s banking sector went hand in hand with the transformation of the country from a small agricultural and fishing society into a major oil producer, then into a champion of economic diversification and sustainable progress.

Banks have played a vital role in supporting economic growth, providing loans to individuals and businesses, and promoting financial inclusion. Today, Kuwait’s banking sector is bolstered by an extensive array of services, fintech innovations and digital technologies, and robust regulations. Kuwait has also played a pioneering role in the global Islamic finance sphere, encouraging the growth and development of some of the first and most trusted Sharia-compliant institutions in the world.

These are the top banks in Kuwait, listed alphabetically, each with its own distinctive strengths and unique history.

Ahli United Bank Kuwait

Founded in 1941 as the Imperial Bank of Persia, an affiliate of the British bank and the first bank in Kuwait, Ahli United Bank (AUB) has played a pivotal role in the development of the country’s banking industry. In 1971, the bank became fully owned by the Kuwaiti government and changed its name to Bank of Kuwait and Middle East. In 2002, Ali United Group bought the bank and renamed it AUB. And, in 2010, it converted to a Sharia-compliant Islamic bank.

Today, Ahli United Bank offers a wide range of services in corporate banking, private banking and wealth management, retail banking, and treasury and investments. Over the years, AUB has won numerous Global Finance awards, including for Best Customer Banking Experience, Best Online Cash Management Services, and Best Corporate/Institutional Digital Bank.

Boubyan Bank

One the fastest-growing financial institutions in Kuwait, Boubyan Bank is licensed under the Law of Islamic Banks no. 33 issued in 2003. It was the first Islamic bank to be established in the country the following year. In 2009, the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) acquired a 47.29% stake in Boubyan. In 2012, it raised that stake to 58.3%, thus becoming the majority shareholder.

Today, Boubyan Bank is part of the Boubyan Group, a Sharia-compliant investment company that encompasses Boubyan Capital (asset management), Boubyan Takaful (insurance), Boubyan National (real estate services), and the Bank of London and the Middle East, the largest Islamic bank in Europe. Boubyan Bank is a repeat winner of Global Finance award for the Best Islamic Digital Bank in Kuwait and in the Middle East region, among other recognitions.

Burgan Bank

One of the leading financial institutions in the Middle East and North Africa, Burgan Bank boasts a regional network of over 160 branches and 360 ATMs, as well as offices across the globe, including in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Established in 1977 as a joint-stock company with the government of Kuwait as a majority shareholder, it was fully privatized in 1997. In 2007, it became a subsidiary of Kuwait Projects Company (KIPCO), an investment holding company with operations across 24 countries. While Burgan Bank primarily focuses on the corporate and financial institutions sectors, it also has a growing retail and private bank customer base. In recent years, Burgan Bank has won several Global Finance awards, including for Best Support for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and for selected Best Mobile Banking services in Kuwait.

Commercial Bank of Kuwait

Established in 1960, the Commercial Bank of Kuwait (CBK) is the second oldest bank in Kuwait, and it has been a mainstay of the country’s financial landscape ever since. In its early years, CBK played a pivotal role in financing the burgeoning oil industry and other mega-projects; in the 1990s, after the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, it provided financial assistance to individuals and businesses affected by the conflict; and in 1992 it became one of the first financial institutions to offer Sharia-compliant financial services.

Today, the Commercial Bank of Kuwait offers a wide range of financial services to its customers, including retail banking, investment banking, and wealth management.

Gulf Bank of Kuwait 

Founded in 1960 by a group of twelve merchants, the Gulf Bank of Kuwait (GBK) started its business operations in a rented flat in Kuwait City with 50 employees and a capital of just 24 million rupees, equivalent today to about 1.8 million Kuwait dinars, or $6 million.

It has since grown to become the third-largest financial institution by assets in the country.

With over 50 branches and 300 ATMs, the Gulf Bank provides services ranging from consumer and whole banking to treasury. In recent years, it has won Global Finance awards for Best Bank, Best Cash Management Bank and Best Consumer Internet Bank in Kuwait.

Industrial Bank of Kuwait 

Founded in 1973 by the government of Kuwait in partnership with private sector institutions, the Industrial Bank of Kuwait’s (IBK) mission is to foster the nation’s growth and bolster the global competitiveness of local firms. In the early years, as the first specialized bank dedicated to industrial development in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, IBK’s primary objective was to offer financing for medium and long-term industrial projects. It has since evolved to align this goal with promoting economic diversification and advancing sustainable development and innovation. 

Today, the Industrial Bank of Kuwait offers a comprehensive array of financial products ranging from investment banking and trade finance to treasury and financial advisory services.

Kuwait Finance House

Established in 1977 as the nation’s first Sharia-compliant bank, Kuwait Finance House (KFH) was a pioneer in launching a range of innovative products and services, including credit cards, lease financing and bonds that comply with the Islamic law, and dedicated branches catering specifically to women. Today, KFH has operations in Turkey, Bahrein, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, as well as in Germany, where in 2015 it inaugurated the country’s first fully-integrated Islamic bank. 

With the acquisition in 2022 of Ahli United Bank, KFH became the second-largest Islamic bank in the world by assets behind Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi Bank. KFH won the World’s Best Islamic Financial Institution award from Global Finance, and is recognized in the Safest Banks, Sustainable Finance and Best Trade Finance Providers categories.

Kuwait International Bank

Founded in 1973 with a focus on the real estate business, Kuwait International Bank (KIB) is one of the oldest commercial banks in the country. In 2007, from a specialized bank, it converted to a fully-fledged Islamic Bank, the second to be established in Kuwait after Boubyan Bank.

Today, KIB offers a wide range of services in personal, corporate and institutional banking, and holds about 10% of Kuwait’s Sharia-compliant bank assets. Over the years, it has been recognized multiple times by Global Finance as one of the Safest Islamic Banks in Kuwait and in the Middle East region as a whole.

National Bank of Kuwait 

Founded in 1952, the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) was the first locally-owned bank to be established in the country, and the first indigenous bank in the entire Arabian Gulf region. The idea for a Kuwaiti bank was born when the British Bank of the Middle East rejected a merchant’s request for a letter of guarantee due to the lack of a guarantor’s signature. Instituted to prioritize the needs of the local community, all founders and board members of NBK were tradesmen of Kuwaiti origin. Today, NBK is a close second to Kuwait Finance House for the title of the country’s largest bank by assets, and boasts a regional presence across the Middle East, as well as branches and subsidiaries in Asia, Europe and the United States.

A repeat winner of Global Finance’s awards for Best Bank and Safest Bank in Kuwait, NBK also got the nod for Best Private Bank for Sustainable Investing, the Best Consumer Digital Bank and the Best Foreign Exchange Provider in the Middle East. 

Warba Bank

Established in 2010 to meet the growing demand for banks that offer financial products and services compliant with Islamic law, Warba Bank is growing fast. In a short period, Warba has distinguished itself for its digital solutions and innovative products for both the retail and corporate sectors. With a rapidly expanding customer base of over 100,000 and close to 10% of the country’s Islamic banking assets under management, Warba has also contributed to diversifying the insurance offering in Kuwait. Through its subsidiary Warba Takaful, the institution holds a dominant position in the life insurance and general insurance market. Warba has been recognized by Global Finance as one of the Safest Banks in the Middle East.

For more Kuwait economic statistics and analysis, click here to read Global Finance’s country report page.