Ratings on the five banks had been constrained because they could not be higher than the sovereign rating for the country. The banks upgraded are National Commercial Bank, Al Rajhi, Samba, Riyad Bank and Bank Aljazira. All have a stable outlook.

In 2007, the banking sector in Saudi Arabia reported a downturn of 14 per cent in profits, although for the first quarter of 2008 profits have risen by 2 per cent as the sector recovers from the stock market crash of 2006. Expectations are that the kingdom’s banks will report stronger growth throughout 2008.