Bank Directories––what are they good for?
Directories of banks and other financial institutions such as the Middle East Financial Directory produced by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi offer us the chance to see who was operating where and what they were reporting to prospective clients and investors. They also give us a sense of how financial institutions thought about advertising and outreach in their time.
This directory was released in 1983, and includes vital information for prospective clients such as banks' addresses and contact numbers, shareholder breakdown, names of directors and management, and essential financial data. Such information would let us track an institution's changing management and board of directors over time, as well as any name changes, change of headquarters, or the development or closing of additional branches.
Taking a look at the full-page ad for Bank al-Jazira, we can compare some of the data reported in the ad with the data reported in the bank's directory entry. We get a little more perspective from the ad, as it emphasizes the percentage positive change in critical areas. Additionally, this ad shows us how a bank in the Middle East was thinking about graphic design and advertising in the early 80s. The successful integration of both Arabic and Roman scripts in the ad makes this a particularly interesting example for the development of Arabic typography in computing.