In 1952, the story of NBK started when a prominent Kuwaiti merchant went to the British Bank of the ME to open a Letter of Guarantee for the amount of 10,000 Indian Rupees, (which is equivalent today to 750 KD). Much to his surprise, his request was rejected, on the condition he provided a guarantor. This well known merchant was shocked and appalled by the treatment that he had received, and news of this was all over town.

This incident gave rise to the question and the idea of having a national bank with a mission to serve the national needs as its priority, help the economic growth of the country, and look after the savings of its clients. In fact, a meeting was held with the late Amir of Kuwait, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, who congratulated them on the idea and promised them his complete support. An Amiri decree was issued on May 19, 1952 to open the National Bank of Kuwait, and NBK started operations on November 15th 1952.