‘Companies struggling to absorb reforms’
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia lined up prominent officials and chief executive officers to promote plans to wean the economy off oil on the first day of United States President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia. Among them was one of the kingdom’s richest women.
Delivering rare public remarks in her home country, billionaire businesswoman Lubna Al-Olayan said companies had struggled with the magnitude of changes imposed by authorities in the first year of the so-called Vision 2030 plan. She, however, praised the “open discussion” between the government and the local business community.
“From the private sector point of view, I think we’re very excited about this Vision 2030 and the transformation efforts,” said AlOlayan, who rarely grants interviews, during a panel discussion at the Saudi-US CEO Forum on Saturday.
Al-Olayan, chief executive officer of the Olayan Financing Co. and co-chair of the forum, was the only woman on the panel, speaking along with top officials including Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih and Yasir Alrumayyan, managing director of the country’s sovereign wealth fund.
She spoke of new opportunities for women in business in the conservative kingdom.
Increasing female employment is a key objective of Vision 2030, spearheaded by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
More women are being named to senior positions in financial services industries. Sarah Al Suhaimi in February became the first woman to head the Saudi Stock Exchange, also known as Tadawul.
Samba Financial Group, one of the kingdom’s major banks, followed by naming Rania Mahmoud Nashar as chief executive officer. Bloomberg
Olayan Financing Co chief executive officer Lubna Al Olayan at the Saudi-U.S. CEO Forum 2017 in Riyadh.