Saudi Stock Exchange Gets Its First Female Head

Monday's appointment of Rania Mahmoud Nashar as chief executive of Samba Financial Group follows last Thursday's announcement that Sarah Al Suhaimi had accepted the offer to chair Saudi Arabia's stock exchange.

Women have secured top jobs at Saudi Arabia's stock exchange and one of its large national banks, giving hope that new strategic ambitions focused on women and the workforce may be bearing some fruit.

One of the few women leaders working in Saudi's finance sector, Al-Suhaimi became the first female CEO of a Saudi investment bank when she was appointed to lead NCB Capital in 2014.

Women still face huge challenges in the country where they are prohibited from driving and require a guardian's consent to travel outside the country or marry.

She is a Harvard University alumni and her father Jammaz was head of the country's Capital Market Authority between 2004 and 2006.

But reforms which Saudi Arabia launched past year to make the economy more efficient and less reliant on oil exports include boosting the role of women in the economy.

Such initiatives are created to get female workforce participation up from 22 percent to 30 percent in the near future as well as less-specific goals of identifying ways to boost women's overall role in the economy.

Samba also said that Nashar was the first Saudi woman certified as an anti-money laundering specialist by a respected American association of experts who combat financial crime.

Her appointment comes even as the Tadawul - the Arab region's biggest stock exchange - is undertaking reforms to increase foreign investment.

According to Reuters, it is preparing to offer its own shares to the public and is trying to win emerging market status from global equity index compilers.

She is expected to keep her position at NCB Capital, the investment banking unit of National Commercial Bank, a person familiar with the appointment said.

  • Zachary Reyes