1977: Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI) branch opened in Abu Dhabi.
2002: BCI branch in Abu Dhabi closed.
2004: Sanpaolo IMI representative office opened in Dubai.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai are among the wealthiest and most highly developed emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Federation. The economic power that comes from being one of the world's largest oil producers prompted the most important international banks to open branches there.
One of these was Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI), which created a branch in central Abu Dhabi in 1977 in order to provide financial support to Italian companies operating in the region, particularly in the infrastructure sector, and to enter the Gulf market. Until 1994 the branch had only a restricted license that prohibited it from doing business in the local currency; even so, it managed to accomplish important work both there and in neighboring countries, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
In 2004 Sanpaolo IMI decided to set up a representative office in Dubai, an emirate which had fewer oil reserves but numerous trade relations with Europe, Japan and the Asian subcontinent. In 2008 the Sanpaolo IMI office was replaced with an Intesa Sanpaolo branch, which was later (in 2011) transformed into a hub.