FaceOf: Lubna Olayan, CEO of Olayan Financing Co.

Lubna Olayan
Updated 31 August 2018
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FaceOf: Lubna Olayan, CEO of Olayan Financing Co.

  • Olayan is the only Saudi whose name has made it to the board and one of three women who will contribute their expertise to the Kingdom’s Future Investment Initiative
  • Her career began in 1983 under her father’s wing at Olayan Group

Lubna Olayan is the CEO of Olayan Financing Co. and is the first woman in Saudi Arabia to give a keynote opening at one of the largest conferences in the Kingdom.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) in Saudi Arabia has named a top-tier team of international business experts to work on the Kingdom’s Future Investment Initiative (FII).

The event debuted in the Kingdom last year and introduced the government’s economic reform plans, focusing on hi-tech sectors, including robotics and artificial intelligence.

Olayan is the only Saudi whose name has made it to the board and one of three women who will contribute their expertise to the initiative.

Olayan was born in 1955 to a businessman and leader who founded the Olayan Group. She grew up valuing education and holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Cornell University, as well as an MBA from Indiana University.

Her career began in 1983 under her father’s wing at Olayan Group, but the two maintained a businesslike relationship in the office.

Her current role is the CEO of Olayan Financing Company, the holding entity of Olayan Group’s full operations in Saudi and the Middle East, and she also sits on the group’s board with her brother and two sisters.

In 2005 Olayan became a non-executive board director at WPP, and in the next two years, she served as an international advisory member of the board for both Rolls-Royce and Citigroup. She joined the board of INSEAD directors late in 2005 and was elected as a member in the board of trustees for Cornell University in 2007.

In 2010, she was awarded the Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year award, and Forbes listed her as the 86th most powerful woman in the world in 2014.


Hollywood star Cuba Gooding Jr. shares career at Saudi Film Festival

Updated 26 March 2019
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Hollywood star Cuba Gooding Jr. shares career at Saudi Film Festival

  • He said he hopes to support Saudi filmmakers through his recently launched production company
  • The festival, at Ithra, is part of the Sharqiah Season in the Eastern Province

DHAHRAN: Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. talked about his experiences in Hollywood, and the challenges he has faced during his career, when he appeared on Monday night at the fifth Saudi Film Festival, which is part of the Sharqiah Season in the Eastern Province.
Known for his roles in movies such as “Men of Honor”, “A Few Good Men” and “American Crime Story,” among others, he has appeared in more than 85 films during a 30-year career on screen and stage. He won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in the 1996 film “Jerry Maguire,” alongside Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger.
Gooding Jr. arrived for the event, at the King Abdul Aziz World Center for Culture (Ithra), accompanied by Claudine De Niro, the estranged wife of actor Robert De Niro’s son, Raphael. They were greeted by renowned Saudi film producer and Hollywood businessman Mohammed Al-Turki.
Gooding Jr. spoke to the audience at Ithra for almost 60 minutes about his long career and the challenges and pitfalls he had experienced on the road to success in the film industry. He also offered some advice to anyone interested in following in his footsteps.
“No one prepares you for success,” he said. “That’s why you see a lot of actors that star in movies, then disappear. Or you see athletes that make a $100 million and then they disappear, too. They weren’t ready for it.
“You have to envision yourself standing on that stage, holding an Oscar over your head, saying, ‘This is for the Middle-East’. You have to envision the script that you will write and envision being on that stage, holding that Oscar.
“People asked me after I won that Academy Award if I ever thought I would be on that stage. I always said, ‘Not in a million years.’ But that’s a lie. You have to envision yourself on that stage, winning that award, so that when you succeed it will feel normal, not like it’s something special, so that you can do it again.”
The actor also said that he intends to support filmmakers from Saudi Arabia and other countries through his recently launched production company.
Asked if he had any projects planned in the region, and Saudi Arabia in particular, he said: “I do, actually. I have a couple of things. I don’t want to give it away but let’s just say that there is a lot of great literature that I’ve read, a lot of different books, including Arabian Nights. It’s hard to talk about the things in development because you don’t want to give it away but there is definitely something in development.”