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Citibank Introduces First Debit Card in the UAE with a Skyward Miles Reward Program


Debit cards issued in the UAE market are fast outnumbering their credit card peers by a 77% margin at least, according to Visa International statistics. While credit cards in force reached 1.53 million cards in Q3 2007 (recording a 23% increase over the same period in 2006), the number of debit cards issued during the same period reached 2.72 million cards (a 26% increase over Q3 2006) according to Visa statistics.

“Clearly, cardholders are opting for debit cards as an alternative to holding cash and a preferred method of payment at thousands of Points of Sale throughout the country,” said Sanjoy Sen, Country Business Manager for Citibank’s Consumer Banking business in UAE. “This is in line with a growing trend among UAE-based consumers towards following sound financial management.”

Just two years after the launch of Citibank Debit Card, Citi today loaded the card with a comprehensive reward program in partnership with Skywards, the frequent flyer program of Emirates Airline.

Introducing the new co-branded Emirates-Citibank Debit Card which can be used as an ATM card in the UAE and worldwide. Moreover, the co-branded Emirates-Citibank Debit Card will now reward users with Skywards benefits every time the card is used at thousands of points of sale (POS) located at outlets in the UAE and abroad, hence adding reward to the convenience of shopping. Discounts and special promotions will be available to cardholders.

In addition, the new co-branded Emirates-Citibank Debit Card carries security and access features that will reduce the need for carrying large amounts of cash for purchases across thousands of outlets.

Cardholders are eligible for four supplementary debit cards that can be used by family members. The card comes with particular security features which prevent misuse or fraud.

“The Emirates-Citibank Debit Card is unique. Its combination of strong security features, ATM card and debit card usability, global acceptance and Skywards miles reward drastically reduces the need to carry large amounts of cash, while also maximizing user value,” said Dean Proctor, Citibank’s Cards Business Head in the UAE. “We are leveraging our alliance with Emirates, which is one of the leading brands in the UAE and the Region, to work fully for the benefit of our customers.”

Brian LaBelle, Skywards’ Senior Vice President, said: “This unique product continues the success story of our co-branded credit cards line and takes our partnership to a new level whereby our mutual customers emerge as final value recipients. The combined brand power of a world-class airline and the preeminent global financial powerhouse could only mean added value to our mutual customers in the region.”

“We wanted a debit card that truly addresses the needs of customers in the UAE market, and rewards their day-to-day transactions. Hence the Emirates-Citibank experience,” said Mohammad Al-Tajer, Citibank’s Marketing Head for the Middle East & Africa. “This is the first time that an ATM/Debit card provides frequent flyer miles to users in the UAE for their everyday purchases through the card and goes in line with Citibank’s pioneering approach to personal banking needs.”

Citi Cards is part of Citi, the leading global financial services company, and the world’s largest credit card issuer with more than 170 million cards in issue in 50 countries worldwide. Citi is a global leader in partnership credit cards, with leading airlines, retail, telecoms, oil and gas companies as key partners around the world.

Citi has been in the Middle East for nearly 50 years and currently offers consumer-banking services in the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. In the UAE alone, Citibank, the consumer banking arm of Citigroup, has had a presence for the past 42 years and is expanding its major operations within the country. The bank is currently a major player in the UAE’s credit card market and a leading provider of banking, Wealth Management and Consumer credit services.

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Citi, the leading global financial services company, has some 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 100 countries, providing consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, and wealth management. Citi’s major brand names include Citibank, CitiFinancial, Primerica, Citi Smith Barney and Banamex. Additional information may be found at or

Citi UAE
Citi has been present in the United Arab Emirates since 1964 when Citibank opened its first branch in Dubai. Since then, the bank has been known for delivering excellence and consistently introducing world-class banking products and services to the UAE market. Citibank leads UAE’s credit card market and is currently a major provider of consumer credit services including personal loans. The bank has been consolidating its leading position in the UAE market over the past few years, while keeping the momentum of innovation and excellence in the development and delivery of customized banking products. According to Visa International’s quarterly member bank statistics, Citibank continues to rank as No. 1 issuing bank in the UAE market for retail spending across all categories of credit cards, and has maintained this position consistently for many years. Additional information may be found at or

Now celebrating seven successful years, the Skywards frequent flyer program of Emirates is widely known as best-in-class for its dedication in delivering benefits to its members which go far beyond just the travel experience. More than three million frequent travelers across the globe have joined Skywards since its launch in 2000. The two key drivers of the program are commitment to innovation and superior customer service. Members earn Skywards Miles on every flight with Emirates Airlines and its partner airlines. They can also earn Miles when staying at Skywards’ partner hotels, and using the services of other partners for car hire, and leisure activities and when using co-branded credit cards in association with banks. Rewards for a passenger’s loyalty and business include free flights and upgrades to hundreds of destinations, plus free leisure activities and quality goods.

Citibank and Skywards Alliance:
Skywards and Citibank, a member of Citigroup, had launched the Emirates-Citibank Credit Card in 2000, giving members the opportunity to earn one Skywards Mile for every US dollar spent using the card. Recently, the two institutions renewed the Emirates-Citibank co-brand Card agreement for a period of five more years, a move that validates the long-term mutual value generated by the two companies’ association.


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