Encouraged by the huge opportunities offered by the booming Indian market, UAE banks are looking at Asia's second-fastest growing economy for expansion.
Armed with huge surplus liquidity, the UAE banks, who are facing profitability crunch in their home market, are looking for growth prospects elsewhere.
A country of four million people, the UAE, say some analysts, is overbanked with 47 banks. The UAE has not allowed foreign banks to have full banking operations since the early 80s.
At present, Bank of Baroda is the only Indian bank to have full banking operations, though other banks like ICICI Bank, HDFC and Punjab National Bank have representative offices.
With such a huge non-resident Indian population, many UAE banks have large India-centric operations in order to tap the vast market.
The National Bank of Dubai, a bank which is merging with Emirates Bank to create the largest bank in the region with assets of USD 46 billion, is also eyeing India.
"We are continuing to search for ways to drive shareholder value. We aim to drive year-on-year sustainable growth. We don't like volatility of performance. We make sure to position ourselves in sectors of the market that drive value," said NBD CEO Douglas Dowie.
According to him, one of those sectors is the Indian market. Strategic business alliances are another key factor in the banks' results, and during the year NBD forged a strategic partnership with HDFC Bank, one of India's premier banks, to extend its service offers to the expatriate community.