Saudi Arabia, Switzerland to increase cooperation in financial sector

Swiss Vice President and Finance Minister Ueli Maurer (right), Chairman of SwissBanking Herbert J. Scheidt (left) and FDF State Secretary Joerg Gasser addressing a press conference on Sunday night in Riyadh. (AN photo)
Updated 19 February 2018
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Saudi Arabia, Switzerland to increase cooperation in financial sector

RIYADH: Switzerland has assured the Kingdom that the two countries can work closely together in the financial sector by holding regular meetings and that it will provide all necessary assistance to Saudi financial regulators and bankers.
The assurances were given by Ueli Maurer, Swiss vice president and finance minister, at a press briefing on Sunday night.
Maurer, who held wide-ranging talks with King Salman, said: “Switzerland and Saudi Arabia have agreed to hold a periodic financial dialogue at both political and technical levels. We have discussed Swiss training options for Saudi personnel working in the financial and banking sector.” He also referred to an agreement on double taxation signed by the two sides on Sunday.
The press briefing at the Swiss ambassador’s house was attended by Herbert J. Scheidt, chairman of SwissBanking (Swiss Bankers Association); Joerg Gasser, state secretary at the Swiss Federal Department of Finance (FDF); Peter Minder, FDF head of communications; and Heinrich Schellenberg, the Swiss ambassador.
The two-day visit of the delegation of Swiss bankers and regulators, as well as their intensive meetings with senior Saudi officials, are important bearing in mind the Kingdom’s high-profile corruption purge that has brought billions of dollars in settlements for the state.
Referring to his wide-ranging talks with Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Economy and Planning Minister Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri and Dr. Ahmed A. Al-Khulaifi, governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), Maurer said: “The talks focused on frameworks for investments and financial services, as well as local opportunities for Swiss financial institutions.”
He said that Swiss financial institutions had a strong presence in several Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia.
“Switzerland, which is the second largest financial market in Europe, currently has a total of SR26,600 billion ($7,093 billion) deposits in its banks, whose total number exceeds 261,” said SwissBanking Chairman Scheidt. He pointed out that “about half of these funds under management of the Swiss banks are from international clients.”
He added: “The Swiss banks can also play an advisory role as Saudi Arabia looks for better investment options within the framework of Saudi Vision 2030.”
According to the Swiss Bankers Association, the financial sector remains one of the key sectors of the Swiss economy, even in a challenging environment.


Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

The end of the driving ban is expected to help bring an economic windfall for Saudi women. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 June 2018
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Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

  • The historic move is a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Saudi Arabia, says businesswoman
  • A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market

The end of the driving ban will boost women’s financial power and allow them to play a bigger role in economic and social diversification in line with Vision 2030, prominent businesswomen said on Friday.

Hind Khalid Al-Zahid was the first Saudi woman designated as an executive director — for Dammam Airport Company — and also heads the Businesswomen Center at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

She sees the historic move as a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Kingdom.

“Women being allowed to drive is very important; of course this will help a lot in sustainable development as the lifting of the ban on women driving came as a wonderful opportunity to increase women’s participation in the workforce,” she told Arab News on Friday, ahead of the end of the ban on Sunday.

She added that women in the job market are under-represented; they make up to 22 percent of the national workforce of about six million according to official estimates. Lifting the ban will help to take women’s representation in the workforce to 30 percent by 2030, she said.

“This is not just the right thing to do for women’s emancipation, but also an essential step in economic and social development as part of the reforms,” she said.

She said that there were different obstacles in increasing women’s participation in the workforce and other productive activities, and the driving ban was one of them. It was a strategic issue that needed to be addressed on a priority basis. With the issue resolved, it would help immensely in giving Saudi women better representation as they would help to diversify the Saudi economy and society.

She said that women could contribute hugely to the workforce and labor market as half of Saudi human resources were female, and unless allowed to excel in different sectors it would not be possible to do better, mainly because of restricted mobility.

A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market.

Nouf Ibrahim, a businesswoman in Riyadh, said: “It will surely boost female economic participation and help increase women’s representation in the workforce immensely. It will also help to reduce the overall national unemployment rate as most of the unemployed are women and many of them are eligible as university graduates.”

She echoed the opinion that the move would help to bring an economic windfall for Saudi women, making it easier for them to work and do business, and thus play a bigger and better role that would help economic and social diversification in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

“Being able to drive from Sunday onwards after the ban is lifted will be a wonderful experience. Earlier we were dependent on a male family member and house driver to take us to workplace, to the shopping center, school or other required places for some work, now we can drive and that will allow active participation in productive work,” Sulafa Hakami, a Saudi woman working as the digital communication manager with an American MNC in Riyadh, told Arab News.

“Saudi women can now share effectively the bigger and better responsibilities,” she said.