Citi launches tech hub in Bahrain to develop its digital platforms

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: People walk beneath a Citibank branch logo in the financial district of San Francisco, California

By Yousef Saba

DUBAI (Reuters) - Citi launched on Monday a global technology hub at its Bahrain offices, the first of its kind in the region and with the aim of employing 1,000 coders over the next decade.

The hub, based at Citi's Bahrain premises, was set up in partnership with Tamkeen, a government-funded labour fund, and Bahrain's Economic Development Board (EDB), which are also investing, a Citi executive said.

Under the plan, Citi will hire at least 100 people in coding-related roles each year over the next 10 years.

The new hires will initially work on two of the bank's main platforms, Citi Velocity and Citi FX Pulse, said Ala'a Saeed, Citi FX's global head of electronic platforms and distribution.

"Selecting our two flagship systems to develop out of here in Bahrain is a huge endorsement of the talent and the calibre of people that we've found here," he said.

Tamkeen will subsidise a portion of the salaries and cover training costs locally and abroad, said Tamkeen Chief Executive Hussain Mohammed Rajab, without disclosing figures.

Bahrain, where Citi has operated for 50 years, has sought to market itself as a financial technology hub for the Middle East and North Africa in a bid to revive its reputation as a regional banking and business centre.

The heavily indebted state, which does not have the oil or gas resources of its Gulf neighbours, received a $10 billion bailout in 2018 from some of its Gulf allies to avoid a credit crunch.

(This story corrects name of Citi platform in paragraph 4)

(Reporting by Yousef Saba; Editing by Edmund Blair)