First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) plans to triple revenue from its China operations to $300 million by 2026, mirroring the UAE’s deepening relationship with the Asian economic giant.

The UAE's biggest lender, which opened its a fully licensed branch in mainland China in 2022, and grew its business there by 50% in 2023, a statement said on Wednesday.

China is the UAE’s top global trade partner, with bilateral trade expected to reach $200 billion annually by 2030. It is also the third largest foreign investor in the UAE, and the GCC’s top-ranking nation in trade flows. The UAE, a comprehensive strategic partner of China, is home to more than 6,000 Chinese businesses and was recently added to the expanded BRICS trade bloc.

FAB Group CEO Hana Al Rostamani said: “China continues to be a priority for First Abu Dhabi Bank, and we are committed to expand our business there while fostering Chinese engagement in the GCC and Egypt. As the UAE’s largest bank and a regional financial powerhouse, we look forward to facilitating more vital corridor trade and investment between the two regions and using our experience, expertise and network to drive transformative growth and development for both markets.”

Zhang Yiming, China's Ambassador to the UAE, said the FAB’s Shanghai Branch which opened during the epidemic in 2022 was 'a vote of confidence' in the Chinese economy.

"We hope that FAB, as the largest bank in the UAE, will give full play to its local full-license advantage and strengthen cooperation with China in helping Chinese enterprises to go overseas and settle in the UAE, broaden investment channels in China, and promote the internationalisation of the RMB.”

The comments were made during FAB’s recent Chinese New Year celebration in the UAE, attended by more than 50 leaders of Chinese state corporates, commercial businesses and bilateral trade bodies active across the MENA region.

(Writing by Brinda Darasha; editing by Seban Scaria)