National Geographic : 1979 Sep
HAKING THE MONEY TREE, Bah rain has now surpassed Beirut as the Middle East center for international finance. Capitalizing on the rain of cash that oil producersamassed after the 1973 price rise, the government has allowed 48 foreign banks to set up "offshore" banking units, OBU's. These branches lend, take deposits, and trade currenciesfor foreign corporationsand nations in a tax-free, no reserve setting.At the Citibank OBU (be low), foreign-exchangedealerMohammed al-Shroogi sees a favorable rate from Singapore.Instantaneousdirect-dialtele phone and telex are channeled by Bah rain'sown earth-satellitestation. Commercialbanks have increasedto 19 since independence. The oldest three still prosper-theBritish Bank of the Middle East,whose massive bronze doors (right) illustratethe seals of the ancient Dilmun civilization, the CharteredBank, and the NationalBank ofBahrain(bottom right). Banking has helped spur local invest ments, bringing thousands ofjobs to Bah rainis (center right).