Emirates NBD Capital, the investment banking unit of Dubai’s biggest lender, joined Citigroup and Samba Financial Group in appointing a woman to lead its operations in Saudi Arabia as the kingdom embarks on unprecedented economic and social changes.
The investment firm hired Mona Mohammed Al-Tawil from HSBC Holdings Plc’s local unit to oversee syndicated loans, equity, debt capital markets and international wholesale banking, according to an emailed statement on Thursday. She was previously the head of structured finance at HSBC Saudi Arabia.
Al-Tawil is among a growing number of women leading financial institutions in the kingdom. Her appointment comes as the OPEC leader eases social restrictions and opens up its economy, including plans to privatise hundreds of state assets and sell shares in oil giant Saudi Aramco.
Last year, Citigroup named Carmen Haddad to head its banking operations in the country and Samba Financial Group appointed Rania Mahmoud Nashar as chief executive officer. Sarah Al Suhaimi, the CEO of NCB Capital, became the first woman to chair Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange, the largest in the region.
The appointments are significant in a country where the female unemployment rate is about 33 percent, according to government data. The kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic reform plan aims to boost female participation in the workforce.
Efforts to improve women’s rights that started under the former King Abdullah are accelerating. The kingdom in September said it will allow women to drive from June, and in January female fans attended official soccer matches for the first time.
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