India's Axis Bank opens Abu Dhabi office as Indians in UAE get richer

Axis Bank sees Abu Dhabi's growing Indian middle class as a great opportunity for profit, as firms set up shop and see wealth develop in the capital.

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Axis Bank is betting on the growth of the Indian middle class in Abu Dhabi as a number of expatriates from the subcontinent settle in the capital and watch their fortunes flourish.

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The Indian bank established a representative office in the emirate last month to service the growing wealth of non-resident Indians in the capital, adding to existing offices in Dubai.

"This is a community you cannot ignore," said Suresh Warrier, the head of Axis Bank's GCC business. "We've seen wealth increasing and we'd like to tap into that."

The past year had seen a number of Indian companies, particularly those focused on construction and infrastructure, moving to Abu Dhabi to take advantage of the development needs underlined in the emirate's Vision 2030 growth plan, Mr Warrier added.

"There has been a lot of growth in Abu Dhabi and there's a lot of focus as far as the Government is concerned in Abu Dhabi," Mr Warrier said.

About 400,000 Indians live in the capital, out of a Indian population of about 1.4 million across the UAE, according to the Indian Embassy.

Catering to Indians, who make up a large proportion of personnel in the construction industry, has been a particularly lucrative market for UAE banks.

A number of notable Indian entrepreneurs have emerged in Abu Dhabi, with local businesses such as New Medical Centre and Emke Group, the parent of Lulu hypermarkets, helping to make their founders rich.

Wealth managers have also sought to tap into the market for Indian high net-worth individuals.

A World Wealth report, produced last month by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, pointed to a growth in Indian wealth, with the country now the 12th biggest for numbers of millionaires.

India's boom drove GDP growth to 9.1 per cent last year. However, Indians in Abu Dhabi were developing wealth at a slower rate than their compatriots in Dubai, said Jaisimha N, the chief representative for the bank's Abu Dhabi office.

"Abu Dhabi doesn't have too many business communities of non-resident Indians," he said. "Unlike Dubai, where there's a lot of entrepreneurs [and] where we see wealth being created at a different pace."

Axis Bank is also seeking to capitalise upon Qatar's growth story as it prepares for the 2022 Fifa World Cup.