First woman CEO in GCC bank appointed

Sabah Almoayyed, who takes charge soon at Ahli United Bank, believes plenty more Gulf women are ready to become chief executive officers.

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By  David Cass Published  May 5, 2002

The Manama-based Ahli United Bank has appointed the first woman CEO in the history of Gulf banking. It is a major breach of the so-called ‘glass ceiling’, the device by which women executives have been prevented from taking high office in major corporations.

She is a Bahraini national, Sabah Almoayyed, who is set to take over the reins at AUB on the retirement of Michael Fuller on July 1 this year. She had known it was coming but still admits, “I was pleased when I found out. I have had a long career but it was worth the trouble to get here.”

Bank chairman, Mohammed Jalal, says, “We are very pleased about the appointment and are confident of her ability to achieve the bank’s ambitious future growth targets.

Almoayyed spent ten years with the National Bank of Bahrain before joining Al Ahli six years ago as general manager. Her main fields of expertise are corporate banking and business development. She was reported to have played an important role in the recent merger between Al Ahli Commercial Bank and the United Bank of Kuwait.

She says the pressures of running a bank do not worry her. “I have never worked without pressure. I now look forward to the challenge. I want to fulfil the vision, goals and initiatives of the bank.”

“The next thing is to make money for the bank,” she told Arabian Business. “I am focused on driving the strategy of the bank forward and trying to enhance the image of a progressive organisation. I want to make it worthwhile for the shareholders, the board of directors and the employees.”

Almoayyed believes there are many women capable of following her into the boardrooms of the region’s major corporations. “I do hope that I will prove it was a successful decision so that others will follow,” she said after the announcement.

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