I recently put together a Twitter thread on my take on the current state of banking and telco in the UAE and I'm turning it into a post for posterity.

Banking and telco is broken in the UAE. So much so that it is hurting our economy.

A thread


Two weeks ago, I used five different services on a single day for calls with various people around the world.

I wasn’t planning any nefarious activities nor attempting to skirt around paying my fair share, just talking to vendors as part of my work on a new venture


The only way this was possible was to use a carrier such as @googleFi, as roaming will throw you over to your home carrier's network, allowing you to exit out to the Internet with a non-UAE IP


Last week, I had a magical, buttery smooth @zoom_us call whilst barrelling down SZR - though I wasn’t driving 😉


The #VoIPban and last year’s VPN crackdown, effectively means that I (and many others like me) need to circumvent around our local carriers in order to be able to legitimately carry out our business


The world has moved on - jumping on a magical internet-powered call, sharing one’s screen or having a team video call is commonplace. No one uses good ol’ POTS anymore


And let’s please not talk about our attempts to build alternatives, all of which should be carefully dismantled and thrown into a glorious bonfire 🔥


Our protectionist approach to sustaining revenues at our duopoly and easily fallible arguments of security are hurting rather than fostering the necessary evolution of our economy


Twelve days ago, @EmiratesNBD_AE gave us thirty days notice that they will be shutting an account for one of our businesses - a precious metals trading entity - as they’ve decided to “exit the sector”


This is a business that dates back to 2005 in its current form and has been banking with ENBD for more than 12 years. They’re happy to keep our other accounts alive, but have decided to shut this one. AFAIK not much, if anything has changed in our underlying business


We’re very lucky in being able to have multiple banking relationships across our business, but the jarring nature of these changes make it extremely challenging to operate


Local banks aren’t alone in their predilection for chaos. We changed the names on a couple of non-UAE entities (names only, no other changes whatsoever) and it has taken @Citibank_UAE over six months and mountains of new paperwork to change it on their systems 🤯


I am far from alone in my experiences of the sad state of a banking industry that was once based on speed, service and a gung-ho attitude to making money


So much so that there are startups who operate in the UAE but don’t do any banking here, choosing instead to use the likes of @SVB_Financial, @EburyUK and others to circumvent around our banking system and opt out of a future laden with NOCs and other nightmarish things


If you were to fly into the UAE today minus any existing relationships, navigate our bizarre maze of fifty free-zones (!), and a bunch of state administered onshore jurisdictions (a whole other story)..


..I’d be willing to bet that it’ll take you three to five days to set up a business, but at least four to six months to set up a bank account - if you’re lucky


Our value proposition as a neutral, easy, and efficient place to trade, provide services, and address the region is at stake.