Dubai - Barclays will boost hiring and increase lending at its corporate banking business in Dubai as the UK’s second-largest bank by assets seeks expansion in emerging markets.

The bank, which is cutting 7 000 investment banking jobs over the next two years, planned to increase the number of corporate bankers in the Gulf by more than 10 percent this year, Rezwan Mirza, the head of that business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Persian Gulf countries said this week.

He declined to give more details on banker numbers.

Mirza said operations in the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council would not be affected by the plan announced on May 8 to cut a quarter of the employees at the investment bank and 19 000 jobs across the company.

Chief executive Antony Jenkins is focusing on cutting costs, rebuilding relations with regulators and responding to shareholder demands to curb bonuses.

Barclays is pursuing growth in emerging markets in Africa, while scaling back its investment bank in the US and Asia.

The bank was injecting fresh capital into its African business as returns from the continent exceeded its 2016 profitability targets, Stephen van Coller, the head of Barclays’s Absa Capital unit in South Africa said this month.

Barclays agreed last month to sell its retail banking business in the UAE to Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank for 650 million dirhams (R1.8 billion). Mirza said the bank would maintain its branch presence in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for its corporate clients in the UAE.

Economic growth in the Gulf Arab region is accelerating amid higher oil prices, increased infrastructure spending by states and a revival in property prices.

The UAE’s economy expanded 4.8 percent last year, the fastest pace in seven years.

Mirza said companies were expanding into places such as Africa, creating opportunities for Barclays. The London-based bank had increased lending to trade finance customers by more than 15 percent this year.

“Pretty much everyone I meet in the region says that their business is growing,” Mirza said. “When your business is growing, you need to grow your working capital.”

The bank expected to see more borrowers tap the loan market to refinance existing debt facilities and also seek fresh capital. – Bloomberg