Boom in entrepreneurs expected after ban on Saudi women driving lifted

Sara Al-Madani said Saudi women are ‘graceful, smart and educated.’ (AN Photo)
Updated 08 November 2017
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Boom in entrepreneurs expected after ban on Saudi women driving lifted

SVETI STEFAN, Montenegro: More local women are likely to become entrepreneurs after the ban on them driving is lifted in Saudi Arabia, according to a prominent Emirati fashion designer and businesswoman.
Sara Al-Madani, an entrepreneur and board member of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI), said: “I’m so happy about this, the women in Saudi (Arabia) are a huge wealth and it needs to be properly invested into the economy.
“Imagine the effect it will have when millions of women can move and get to work. It will transform the country and it’s undeniable that force will have a big impact.”
Al-Madani, founder of Sara Al-Madani Fashion Design and the new British restaurant Shabarbush in Dubai, added that not being able to drive has never stopped women from setting up their own business ventures, but “this freedom opens up more opportunities for them so we will see more women on board.”
The entrepreneur, speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the recent Global Citizen Forum, said that the word “innovation” is now trending globally.
“I tell everyone, before you innovate in business or at your work, you need to innovate in yourself, you need to believe in yourself and break the stereotype.
“You need to stand up for your rights and believe in your dreams and accomplish them and, once you’ve done that, you can innovate externally … Women are strong, we just need inspiration.”
Al-Madani ventured into the business world at a time when very few Emirati women were doing so. Defying cultural norms, she started her fashion label Rouge Couture, now known as Sara Al-Madani Fashion Design, at the age of 15.
In 2014 Al-Madani, now 30, was selected by Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, ruler of the UAE emirate of Sharjah, as a board member of the SCCI.
Al-Madani also runs the creative consultancy Social Fish, and is a brand ambassador for Nivea and Natura Bissé in the Middle East.
She said: “This is just the beginning (of freedoms) for Saudi women. I wish the Saudi women all the best — they are graceful, smart and educated.”


Barclays chief Staley survives whistleblowing inquiry with fines

Updated 20 April 2018
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Barclays chief Staley survives whistleblowing inquiry with fines

  • Case marks first test of Britain's "senior managers regime"
  • Decision not to dismiss Staley comes as relief for shareholders

Barclays said Jes Staley will be fined by British regulators for attempting to unmask a whistleblower, but will be able to keep his job as the bank’s chief executive.
The country’s banking watchdogs concluded Staley’s attempt to find out who wrote a letter raising “concerns of a personal nature” about an unnamed senior employee represented a breach of individual conduct, Barclays said on Friday.
Staley’s case is the first big test of Britain’s “senior managers regime” (SMR), aimed at making top banking officials personally accountable for their actions after few were punished for their roles in bank collapses during the financial crisis.
If Staley accepts the findings of the regulators, it would be the first time that a sitting chief executive of a major bank in Britain has been fined by its regulators. A bank spokesman said the size of the fine had yet to be determined.
Barclays said the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) were “not alleging that he (Staley) acted with a lack of integrity or that he lacks fitness and propriety to continue to perform his role as Group Chief Executive Officer.”
News of the FCA and PRA fines follows a more than year-long probe in Britain that had led to speculation among some investors and bank insiders that Staley could have been forced to step down if deemed unfit to continue by those authorities.
Barclays also said that the FCA and PRA will not take enforcement action against the bank, while authorities in the United States are still investigating the case.
“Staley will live on to fight another day – which we welcome as a positive development for the bank and a relief for shareholders,” John Cronin at Irish broker Goodbody said.
“He’s been delivering on the strategy far more effectively than his predecessor had and therefore absent any sort of genuine malpractice we’re pretty keen for him to crack on,” one of the bank’s top 40 investors said.
The British bank, which in April last year said it had reprimanded Staley and would cut his bonus for his attempts to identify the whistleblower, will be required to report to the FCA and PRA on aspects of their whistleblowing programs.
The watchdogs could have banned Staley and opting for a fine could dent the fledgling SMR’s credibility.
“The magnitude of banning the sitting CEO of such a systemically important institution made outcomes other than a fine unlikely, but the case does set an interesting precedent,” said Nicholas Queree, an associate at law firm Peters & Peters.
Staley received the draft warning notice last week and was given 28 days to accept the findings or appeal. If he agrees to pay the two fines he would get a 30 percent discount.
The fines have been set according to a formula that considers the type of offense, the offender’s position in the company, any financial hardship, any previous cases, and whether there was any monetary benefit from the offense.
“We ... will announce the outcome once this issue has reached a conclusion,” the FCA and PRA said in a statement.
Legal experts question whether a light sanction for Staley could send a signal to other potential bank whistleblowers that they risk unmasking if they speak out.
Barclays said it will recommend Staley’s re-election as a director at its board meeting on May 1. At the last annual meeting he faced resignation calls, but was given a public endorsement from Chairman John McFarlane.
Staley’s pay package was £3.88 million ($5.45 million) in 2017, 8.5 percent less than the previous year.