Stake spotlights women in the finance and investing space!

International Women’s Day 2023

The Arab States have long faced a challenge in promoting women’s economic participation, with only one in every five women of working age engaged in economic activities. However, recent developments in the UAE suggest a promising trend. As the country’s real estate sector continues to boom, an increasing number of women are taking a keen interest in building their financial portfolios. In fact, recent data from the Dubai Land Department (DLD) reveals that 26,698 women have invested in real estate, contributing a staggering AED 58.8Bn to the sector. Such growth has led to women owning an impressive 30% of the property in Dubai, according to a recent government study.

Similarly, women-led enterprises in the UAE have reported highly profitable results, with over 23,000 such businesses valued at AED 50 billion in the country. Despite such impressive developments, however, women continue to remain underrepresented in investing space. According to the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, women make up only 21% of investors in the UAE, with the remaining 79% being men.

While these developments in the UAE are certainly an indication of an impending shift in the long-dominant narrative, they are still very much the exception rather than the norm in the Arab world, particularly in conflict-affected areas. Nonetheless, by recognizing and supporting the impressive achievements of women in finance, investing, and beyond, the region can continue to make great strides toward realizing gender equity and a more prosperous future for all.

As we approach this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8th, we are taking a moment to honor the women playing a crucial role in reshaping the industry. These luminaries have shattered glass ceilings, challenging traditional norms and perceptions about gender roles in finance and investing, and have established themselves as role models for future generations of women. Their influence has paved the way for more equitable opportunities for women in finance, breaking down long-standing barriers to entry and transforming the industry for the better.

Find some of the leaders we’re spotlighting during Women’s Week at Stake below!

Raja Al Mazrouei

Raja is a highly regarded digital transformation leader with over 20 years of experience in the financial and tech sectors. Her passion for pioneering large-scale industry and UAE community reform has earned her numerous accolades. Raja's technical and financial expertise led to her former role as Executive VP of DIFC FinTech Hive, the region’s first and largest FinTech accelerator where she spearheaded the UAE's national innovation agenda by networking with financial institutions, government entities, and entrepreneurs. She has contributed significantly to the industry’s growth, leading to the formation of 500+ startups and the sector's ranking as one of the world's best financial innovation labs.

Hana Al Rostamani

Rostamani is the Group CEO at First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the UAE’s largest bank as of 2021. She is recognized for being the only female group CEO of a major UAE-headquartered bank and publicly listed corporation in the country. With over 20 years of experience in the banking and financial services sectors, Rostamani has established herself as a forward-thinker and change leader. As the Deputy Group CEO and Head of Personal Banking at FAB, she led the transformation of their consumer bank, pioneering a customer and digital-first mindset. She also serves on several advisory boards and was recently named one of Forbes Middle East’s most influential women in banking and finance, and ranked third on their 2022 list of the region’s most powerful businesswomen.

Lubna Suliman al-Olayan

Olayan is a prominent Saudi-born businesswoman and the first woman to run a publicly traded bank in the Kingdom. For most of her career, she served as the CEO and deputy chairman of the Olayan Financing Company (OFC), the holding entity for the Olayan Group, founded in 1947 by her entrepreneur father, Sulaiman. During her tenure, she oversaw the operations of some 40 companies across multiple sectors including distribution, manufacturing, services, and investments. Olayan also serves on several boards and in 2014, Forbes named her the 86th most powerful woman in the world and in 2022, the 11th most powerful businesswoman in the region.

May Nasrallah

May is a highly accomplished business leader who has founded and serves as Executive Chairman of deNovo Corporate Advisors, an independent and highly-regarded corporate finance advisory firm focused on the Middle East region. Her extensive experience working in various capacities and geographies over almost 16 years at Morgan Stanley, has enabled May to establish deNovo as a leading boutique advisory firm that provides expert services in mergers and acquisitions, restructurings, and capital-raising transactions across a range of services and industries. In addition to her role at deNovo, she is also the Non-Executive Chairman and Senior Advisor for the Middle East Region at BlackRock, a highly respected global investment manager and technology provider.

Sarah Al Suhaimi

Suhaimi is the first Saudi woman to serve as Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul), the largest stock market in the Middle East. Prior to this role, Sarah was the CEO and board director of NCB Capital, the investment arm of the National Commercial Bank, the largest bank in Saudi Arabia. Under her leadership at NCB Capital, Suhaimi achieved remarkable growth in assets under management, which increased by over four times their original value, as well as boosted the company's market share in both brokerage and corporate finance. In 2022, Forbes named her the 4th most powerful woman in the world and in 2022, one of Forbes Middle East’s most influential women in banking and finance.

In recent years, there has been a notable increase in female participation and leadership within the finance and investment industries in the Middle East. Their contributions have been significant, and their unique perspectives have generated innovative ideas, paving the way for future generations of women to take on increasingly prominent leadership roles. Onwards and upwards 🚀

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