Qatar National Bank (QNB) has secured a license from the Saudi cabinet to open a branch in the kingdom.

QNB Group currently operates in more than 27 countries through its subsidiaries and associate companies.

The move comes on the heels of Qatar central bank’s announcement to grant licences to fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) banks to open branches in the country.

QNB Group CEO Ali Ahmed Al Kuwari said: "The approval of the Saudi Cabinet to license the Group represents a milestone in QNB’s journey and strategy to expand in selected markets, especially that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the largest and most important markets that leads the Arab economies and one of the most effective and influencing markets in the world.

"The banking sector in the kingdom enjoys a solid infrastructure and provides a healthy competitive environment with its well-established financial institutions; thus, QNB Group – with its expertise and large network covering three continents – is delighted to be an active part of this promising Saudi market."

Among the 12 foreign lenders currently licensed to operate in Saudi Arabia, five are Gulf banks including two from Bahrain and one each from Kuwait, the UAE and Oman.

Other foreign lenders licensed to operate in the kingdom include JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley.