News: Abu Dhabi-based Al Hilal Bank has obtained a retail banking award for the Middle East region for 2013, according to a press statement. The lender said that it was named the ' Middle East Retail Bank of the Year ' amid the 2013 Retail Banker International Awards run by market intelligence firm Timetric . The bank - which is owned by the government of Abu Dhabi - said that it had spent the past several years demonstrating how ' progressive Islamic banking ' can achieve a ' huge impact ' in regional and global banking and finance.
BMI View: We expect a general slowdown for GCC banks in 2013 and 2014 after several years of rapid growth. In North Africa and the Levant, the coming months will prove to be difficult for commercial lenders, particularly in the context of rising FX, sovereign and credit risks. While there will be some convergence between the GCC and the rest of the region, mostly due to base effects, we expect the GCC to outperform, and highlight Saudi Arabia and Qatar as key growth countries.