Top Female Leaders Transforming MENA’s Financial Services Sector

Top Female Leaders Transforming MENA’s Financial Services Sector

The UAE has emerged as the leading country in the Middle East for gender equality, as highlighted in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2023.

This remarkable achievement is rooted in the UAE's fundamental belief in equal partnership between men and women in society. Significant strides have been made in empowering women across economic, political, and social spheres, with women recognized as essential partners in sustainable development.

Government Initiatives Fueling Progress

The UAE government has implemented various initiatives and policies to bolster women’s participation in the financial services sector. One notable mandate requires publicly listed companies to include at least one woman on their boards, thereby promoting gender diversity in corporate leadership.

Despite progress, the representation of women in leadership roles within the banking and financial services industries in the UAE and other MENA countries remains relatively low compared to global standards. However, several trailblazing women are making significant strides in this field:

Leading Figures in the MENA Financial Sector

Hana Al Rostamani
Group CEO, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB)

Hana Al Rostamani has been leading First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE’s largest bank by assets, since 2021. With over 25 years of experience in banking and financial services, she is the first female CEO in the bank’s history. Al Rostamani oversees FAB’s global operations, spanning 20 markets across five continents. Under her leadership, the bank’s net profit for the first quarter of 2024 rose by 6% year-on-year to Dhs4.2 billion, with total income reaching Dhs8 billion and assets up by 4% to Dhs1.24 trillion. The bank has also facilitated Dhs26 billion ($7 billion) in sustainable finance in Q1 2024 and has availed Dhs150 billion in green finance to date.

Rola Abu Manneh
CEO, Standard Chartered UAE

Appointed in August 2018, Rola Abu Manneh became the first Emirati woman to head a bank in the UAE. She has successfully transformed Standard Chartered UAE into one of the top five markets for the banking group. Abu Manneh has also been a strong advocate for women’s empowerment and female entrepreneurship, launching initiatives like the Women in Tech accelerator program, which has supported over 20 startups that collectively raised $5 million.

Maryam Buti Al Suwaidi
CEO, Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA)

In October 2021, Maryam Buti Al Suwaidi was appointed CEO of the Securities and Commodities Authority, becoming the first woman to hold this position. Under her leadership, the SCA has extended exemptions for companies listing green and sustainability-linked bonds and sukuk from registration fees. The authority has also taken on the regulation, supervision, and control of virtual assets and related services, promoting financial stability and deepening capital markets in the UAE.

Raja Al Mazrouei
MD and CEO, Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI)

With nearly two decades of experience, Raja Al Mazrouei joined ECI as a board member in January 2022 and became the managing director and CEO in January 2023. Al Mazrouei has driven ECI’s transformational strategy, enhancing operational efficiencies and supporting the UAE’s economic diversification agenda. She also serves on the boards of several institutions, including the Harvard Business School MENA Advisory Board and the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government.

Dr. Saeeda Jaffar
Group Country Manager and SVP GCC, Visa

Dr. Saeeda Jaffar joined Visa in 2021, bringing with her extensive experience from leading consulting firms. Under her guidance, Visa introduced the Visa Installment Solution in the GCC and launched the She’s Next program, supporting women-owned small businesses with funding, training, and mentorship. Since 2020, Visa has invested over $3 million in grants and coaching for women SMB owners in the MENA region.

May El Gammal
Group Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, EFG Holding

May El Gammal has been with EFG Holding since 2010, playing a crucial role in the company’s evolution from a regional investment bank to a global financial services corporation. She has been instrumental in shaping EFG Holding’s growth strategy and executing successful marketing and communications campaigns. El Gammal has also been a strong advocate for sustainability, leading initiatives within the company to promote responsible marketing and sustainable development.

The UAE and other MENA countries are making significant progress in empowering women within the financial services sector. Through government-led initiatives and the efforts of pioneering women leaders, the region is moving towards greater gender equality and sustainable economic development. The stories of these trailblazers serve as an inspiration and a testament to the potential of women to drive positive change in the industry.

News Source: Gulf Business

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