Lubna Olayan becomes first woman to head a Saudi foreign business council

Olayan appointed president of the the Saudi-Swedish Business Council

Birds eye view of the skyline of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Birds eye view of the skyline of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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JEDDAH: Prominent Saudi businesswoman Lubna Olayan has become the first woman to head up a foreign business council in the Kingdom following her approval as president of the Saudi-Swedish Business Council by the General Authority for Foreign Trade.

Mohammed Batterjee and Saud Al-Suleiman were named as her deputies.

Olayan has been a major figure in Saudi business for decades and was named as one of the 100 most influential people by Time magazine in 2005 and has featured in the Forbes list of most powerful women many times over the years, most recently at no. 58 in 2018.

She became chairwoman of the Saudi British Bank in 2019 and was reappointed to a three-year term in January 2020 following its merger with Alawwal Bank to create the Kingdom’s third-largest lender.

Olayan was CEO of the Olayan Financing Company, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest conglomerates, until she stepped down in April 2019, but remains on the board. The company, founded by her father in 1947, is a private multinational engaged in distribution, manufacturing, services and investments.

She thanked the members of the council for their trust in her and her two deputies as they assumed their responsibilities, stating that she will continue to work to improve the council’s work and activate its role in developing inter-economic relations between the two countries.

The 36 Saudi foreign business councils operate under the supervision of the General Authority for Foreign Trade, as well as the umbrella of the Federation of Saudi Chambers of Commerce, with the goal of strengthening economic ties between the Kingdom and friendly states, increasing access to foreign markets for Saudi products, and encouraging foreign investment.

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