Two US investment banks, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers, have each recruited an experienced Arab executive with private banking experience.

Maher al-Ariss, formerly assistant general manager and country brokerage chief at Saudi American Bank, has moved to Lehman Brothers. He will work there as a director for Middle East private banking, reporting to Andrew Berger, head of the bank’s private client services for Europe and the Middle East.

Lehman runs private banking for the region from its offices in London, Bahrain and Dubai, and Ariss’ post is a new one. ‘It’s one of the areas we focus on quite heavily,’ says a bank spokesman.

Mahmoud Zaki, former head of private banking at ABC International Bank in London, has moved to Merrill Lynch International where he will become a vice-president. Zaki, aged 55, has a long track record of private banking experience and set up ABC International’s private bank branch in Mayfair, London.