Woman appointed to run Saudi Arabian bank for first time in country's history

Lubna Al Olayan will lead a new lender after the merger between Alawwal Bank and Saudi British Bank

Olayan topped the ranking of Forbes Middle East’s most influential women in 2018
Olayan topped the ranking of Forbes Middle East’s most influential women in 2018

A woman has been appointed to run a Saudi Arabian bank for the first time in the country’s history.

Lubna Al Olayan, a Saudi businesswoman, will lead a new lender that has been formed after the merger between Alawwal Bank and Saudi British Bank.

Ms Olayan, 63, has been the deputy chair of Alawwal Bank for four years and will now lead a bank that is the third-largest lender in Saudi Arabia.

The new bank will be part owned by HSBC and have a capitalisation of £13.2bn.

Ms Olayan has long been a pioneer for women in Saudi Arabia. In 2004 she was elected to the board of Saudi Hollandi Bank, becoming the first woman in the country to feature on the board of a public company.

In the same year she was the first Saudi woman to give the keynote speech at the Jeddah Economic Forum and 12 months later she co-chaired the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Ms Olayan has frequently appeared in a range of “most influential” lists and in 2018 she topped the ranking of Forbes Middle East’s most influential women.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has launched a range of proposed reforms under his Saudi Vision 2030.

Part of the changes includes empowering of Saudi women.

Earlier in 2018 a ban on women driving was lifted and women were allowed into football matches for the first time.

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