Author: Gordon Platt
NCB Capital breaks barriers for women in Saudi Arabia by appointing a female CEO.

NCB Capital, a major Saudi Arabian investment bank, named Sarah Al-Suhaimi, an accomplished asset manager, as its new CEO. She is the first woman to head an investment bank in the kingdom. The Saudi government owns part of National Commercial Bank, which controls NCB Capital.

Al-Suhaimi was head of asset management at Jadwa Investment for the past seven years. She served for five years on the asset management team at Samba Financial Group. Al-Suhaimi is also vice chair of the advisory committee to the Capital Market Authority, which regulates the kingdom’s stock market.

Saudi women face many restrictions and are not allowed to drive. During his recent visit to the kingdom, US president Obama presented an International Women of Courage award to Maha Al-Muneef, who works to prevent domestic violence. He praised her efforts to raise the issue of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.

Elsewhere, the Egyptian economy may have passed the worst of the fallout from last summer’s “second revolution,” according to London-based Capital Economics. The economy expanded by 1.3% in the fourth quarter of last year and should benefit from Gulf-funded stimulus packages, the consultancy notes. Egyptian presidential elections have been scheduled for May 25-26, and former military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is favored to win.

Saudi Arabia’s call for other Arab states to follow its lead and outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood was kept off the agenda at the Arab League summit in Kuwait in late March. Qatar’s support for the Brotherhood has created a split within the Gulf Cooperation Council. Kuwaiti emir sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah called for closer ties between the Arab states, “for the sake of regional prosperity and security,” but there was no sign of a resolution of their differences.

Meanwhile, in the UAE, a government-owned credit bureau said it is ready to begin operations. The Al Etihad Credit Bureau will enable financial institutions to check the credit-worthiness of consumers before making loans.