The new initiatives come as part of the bank’s plans to integrate the UAE operations of ABN Amro, which RBS acquired in October 2007. This will include developing a capital markets team in Dubai that will cover the entire region, after previously covering Middle East clients from London.

At present, the majority of the RBS project finance team is based in London and structured around business sectors.

“We are going through a reorganisation of our global banking teams and in discussion with the different product heads about what resources to relocate to the region, and that includes project finance,” says Scott Barton, head of global banking and markets in the Middle East.

One source inside the bank’s project team tells MEED the sheer size of the project sector in the region is behind the bank’s decision. “There is definitely room to have some resources in the region, especially with all the projects planned,” says the source.

The move will pit RBS against more established banks in the region, including HSBC and Barclays Capital.

While some industry observers say RBS has missed the best of the region’s project boom, others say the move is timely.

“Although it may seem like RBS is coming out too late, it may have timed it just right,” says the head of one syndication at a rival bank in Dubai.