BE2C2 Report — NCB Capital Co. Chief Executive Officer Sarah Al Suhaimi will become the first woman to chair Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange, the largest bourse in the Middle East with a market capitalization in excess of 2 trillion Saudi Riyals ($439 billion).
Al Suhaimi was appointed chairwoman of the Tadawul, replacing Khalid Al Rabiah, the exchange said in a statement on Thursday. She is expected to keep her position at NCB Capital, the investment banking unit of National Commercial Bank, a person familiar with the appointment told Bloomberg.
Al Suhaimi was the first female head of a Saudi investment bank when she assumed the role in 2014.
Suhaimi was elected by the stock exchange’s board, which includes representatives of the central bank, the finance ministry and the commerce ministry, the exchange said in a statement.
She is the first woman to chair a major government financial institution in the kingdom and underscores the Kingdom’s incessant pursuit to empower women.
The number of working women has jumped 50 percent between 2010 and 2015, and more Saudi women are entering male-dominated fields such as banking, engineering and media, reports Bloomberg.
In mid-2014, Somayya Jabarti took the reins of state-owned Saudi Gazette – the English-language newspaper, from Khaled Almaeena, who became editor-at-large.
Jabarti, previously deputy editor, became the first female editor of a national newspaper in the Kingdom, although other women have headed magazines in the kingdom.
Suhaimi’s appointment to chair the exchange is in line with an ambitious economic and social reform program announced by the government last year. One of SAudi Vision 2030 goals is to develop women’s role in the economy and increase their participation in the workforce to 30 percent from 22 percent in coming years.
Suhaimi will chair the Arab world’s largest stock exchange at a critical time. It is preparing to offer its own shares to the public and is trying to win emerging market status from international equity index compilers.
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 offering (IPO).
The kingdom’s $439 billion stock exchange, which opened to foreigners in 2015, is seeking to attract more overseas investment as part of the country’s plans to diversify the economy away from oil. It’s working with index provider MSCI Inc. to be reclassified as an emerging market in the hope of triggering billions of dollars of inflows, Tadawul CEO Khalid Al Hussan told Bloomberg in January.
Before joining NCB Capital, Al Suhaimi was chief investment officer at Jadwa Investment and a senior portfolio manager at Samba Financial Group. Her father, Jammaz Al Suhaimi, was the head of the Capital Market Authority, the market regulator, until 2006.