The bank said this period marks the beginning of a new five-year strategy to sustain growth locally and expand regionally and internationally.

Assets held by the bank increased by 104 per cent from the end of the first quarter of 2007, to QR15.3bn, an QR8.6bn increase from the end of the last quarter of 2007. At the end of first three months of 2008 the bank also grew its investment portfolio 63 per cent to QR5.3bn from QR3.3 at the end of the same period in 2007.

However, ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) warns that Qatar’s banking sector is increasingly vulnerable to a real estate shock.

“Qatari banks have been quickly building up untested consumer and real estate loans over the past three years, increasing their vulnerability to an economic downturn or a real estate sector correction,” says Mohammed Damak, credit analyst at S&P.