AmEx Debuts First Local-Currency Credit Card in Mideast

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American Express has debuted its first local-currency credit card in the United Arab Emirates.

The credit card issuer previously had marketed only U.S. dollar Green and Gold charge cards in the UAE. The company selected its American Express Blue credit card to be the first local-currency card.

"We have seen a definite increase in demand in Middle Eastern markets for local currency-based cards. We decided to first test in the UAE because of its rapidly growing and dynamic economy and comfort with technology," said Christine Kibblewhite, head of marketing, Global Network Services at American Express, New York.

She said the company chose its Blue card for the initiative because of its appeal with young professionals comfortable with the Internet. The card offers online access and account servicing features.

American Express is marketing the card through direct mail campaigns, newspaper advertisements, magazine inserts, pre-movie advertisements, radio, outdoor ads, and direct sales at shopping mall and cinema kiosks, as well as through banner ads linking consumers to, where consumers can learn about the card and register for an account. The campaign includes Arabic- and English-language materials.

The campaign will focus on features such as fraud protection and online account maintenance. The campaign also will draw attention to the 1 percent money-back feature.

American Express Middle East, the company's Middle Eastern regional division, is a joint venture owned by Mawarid Investment Ltd. and American Express. The division has been operating in 19 countries in the region and established business there in 1957.

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