Lazard appoints Sarah Al Suhaimi as Mena chair to boost advisory business

Ms Al Shuaimi has held several senior leadership roles in the kingdom's financial services industry in past two decades

Sarah Al Suhaimi will help to strengthen Lazard's Middle East operations. Bloomberg
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Lazard has hired Sarah Al Suhaimi to chair the investment bank’s advisory business in the Middle East and North Africa as it looks to strengthen its regional operations.

Ms Al Suhaimi will also be chairwoman of the boutique advisory and asset management company’s Saudi Arabia unit, subject to regulatory approvals, Lazard said.

The move underpins Lazard’s commitment to serving its growing investment banking clientele in the region through its Riyadh hub.

“Building on our existing presence in the city, Riyadh is the natural location for our regional hub office, from which we will serve investment banking clients [in the region],” said Peter Orszag, chief executive of financial advisory at Lazard. “The appointment of Sarah as chair is the first step in strengthening our presence on the ground.”

Ms Al Suhaimi, who was appointed in 2017 chair of the Saudi Stock Exchange, or Tadawul, is a prominent name in Saudi Arabian business circles.

She has held several senior leadership positions across the financial services industry in the kingdom over the past two decades including as chief executive at SNB Capital, the investment banking unit of Saudi Arabia’s largest lender by assets.

She has also held senior roles at Jadwa Investment and Samba Capital. Since 2021, Ms Al Suhaimi has served on the boards of several companies, including Saudi Airlines and Saudi Telecom Company.

She is among a growing number of women taking on senior leadership roles in the kingdom and across the Gulf region.

In July, Princess Haifa Al Saud was appointed Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of tourism. She had previously served on the board of the General Authority of Civil Aviation and as a representative of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.

Shihana Alazzaz was also named the first female deputy secretary general of the Saudi cabinet in July.

In June, Sheila Al Rowaily, who once served as treasurer of Saudi Aramco, became the first woman to be appointed to the board of the Saudi Central Bank.

Investment banks and financial institutions are keen to hire women in senior leadership roles in the kingdom, as Riyadh continues to drive its economic and social reform agenda.

The kingdom, Opec's biggest oil producer and the world's largest exporter of crude, is diversifying its economy and aims to reduce its reliance on hydrocarbons under its Vision 2030 programme. Boosting employment and creating jobs for its female workforce are central to its reform agenda.

The number of female workers nearly doubled during the past five years and now stands at more than 35 per cent of the workforce, officials said in May.

Abdullah Abuthnain, the kingdom's deputy minister of human resources and social development, said the number of women in the workplace was at “the highest level in the kingdom’s history”.

Updated: September 20, 2022, 7:58 AM