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Saudi Stock Exchange appoints first female chief in history of the kingdom
About a third of the female population in Saudi Arabia is unemployed and women are still not allowed to drive
Zlata Rodionova
Monday 20 February 2017 16:04 GMT
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The Independent Online
Ms Suhaimi will chair the Arab world's largest stock exchange at a critical time Reuters
Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange has appointed a woman to the position of chairperson for the first time in the kingdom’s history, sparking hopes that the country is progressing—albeit slowly—towards gender equality
Sarah Al Suhaimi, who became the first female chief executive of a Saudi investment bank when she took the role at NBC Capital in 2014, accepted the offer to chair Saudi Arabia's Tadawul, the largest bourse in the Middle East, replacing Khalid Al Rabiah, the organisation said in a statement last week.
The announcement was followed by Monday's appointment of Rania Mahmoud Nashar to the position of chief executive of Samba Financial Group, one of the country’s largest national banks.
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Ms Nashar has nearly two decades of experience in the financial sector and previously held several jobs at within Samba, according to Bloomberg.
The appointment of women at top financial jobs is an important step for the Saudi Arabia, where about a third of the female population is unemployed and women are still not allowed to drive. Women are also subject to a male guardianship system which in many cases restricts their opportunities to work.
"Social change is intrinsic to the National Transformation Plan," said Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC told Bloomberg, referring to the kingdom’s list of policies unveiled last year that are designed to wean the economy off its dependence on oil.
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"You’re seeing more and more signs of social change occurring over the last year."
Ms Suhaimi will chair the Arab world's largest stock exchange at a critical time.
According to Reuters, it is preparing to offer its own shares to the public and is trying to win emerging market status from international equity index compilers.
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It is also expected next year to list the shares of national oil giant Saudi Aramco in what could be the world's biggest initial public offer.
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