Free mockery when you bank with us

Normally, it's the size of your balance that makes bank staff laugh, not your passport photo.

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Ever since I moved to Dubai 18 months ago, I have been a loyal fan of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi. Of all the trials and tribulations, processing of information and filling out of forms that go with becoming a permanent resident of the UAE, I found that opening a bank account was the most hasslefree.

As time went on, my appreciation of its services only grew: any issues that I had were dealt with quickly, online banking was simple and easy to use and while the text message that appears every time I withdraw money isn't always appreciated, I do see the logic. After all, receiving said messages helps curb my spending, which can only be a good thing.

I have waxed lyrical about NBAD to friends and colleagues and even encouraged customers of other banks to switch their allegiance. Such is my faith in this company that when I visited the Dubai Mall branch the other day, to inquire about opening a separate savings account, I didn't envisage that there would be a problem.

And sure enough, everything went well to begin with: I joined a short queue and in no time at all was sitting opposite a manager, explaining why I was there. He couldn't have been more accommodating, helping me to fill out forms and explaining in detail the options that were available.

It was only when he asked to take a photocopy of my passport that things took a turn for the worse. Settling on the page bearing my photograph, he began to giggle. These quiet chuckles quickly turned into something more akin to a belly laugh, as he invited a colleague over to share the joke.

I asked the cause of their mirth. "Chubby," he managed to say, detecting the testiness in my voice and trying to hold his laughter in. "Your face: very round," he said, inflating his cheeks in the manner of a hamster, the better to convey his point, before concluding: "Much better now."

I sat there flabbergasted. I was so shocked that I didn't even attempt to explain that, when the picture was taken, although I was a keen cook I was also a poor student, subsisting on stodgy, carbohydrate-based meals.

Don't get me wrong: my faith in the National Bank of Abu Dhabi remains intact. Within the week, my savings account was fully functioning. I think that next time, though, unless my confidence is sky-high, I might go to a different branch.

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