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Tue 1 May 2007 12:57 PM

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Black Amex Saudi plans revealed

American Express is to offer Saudi's richest an exclusive invitation-only black credit card.

American Express Saudia Arabia is soon to launch an invitation-only exclusive black credit card for Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, its CEO for the KSA has exclusively revealed to
Arabian Business


Priyan Attygalle, chief executive for Amex Saudia Arabia, a KSA incorporated business seperate to its Middle Eastern arm, said that the KSA card business had seen 50% year-on-year growth over the past five years and that along with its platinum charge card, which is also by invitation-only, it was "time to launch" its exclusive black card for Ultra High Net Worth Individuals "very soon".

Despite the future launch, card penetration remains relatively low in the kingdom, said Attygalle.

"There has been a huge increase in credit card usage, however, Saudi still predominantly remains a cash-based society."

Religious tourism is also a huge growth business for Amex, said Attygalle.

"Inbound travel is huge at the time of the Hajj and during Ramadan, there is a 30% increase in spending from in-coming travellers and pilgrims."

"The business is very profitable and makes up for a substantial part of Amex. In fact we are in the top three markets company worldwide."

He added that the number of mainly Saudi women working for Amex's sales force had increased to 50, but ruled out any women-only specific card products as many women in the kingdom "liked to be treated equally".

Unlike Dubai and other countries in the region, Saudi has a credit bureau (SCB) that Attygalle said was working very hard and was able to immediately trace spending patterns and bad debt.

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