The future of finance is female – The Property Chronicle
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The future of finance is female How the changing nature of real estate investment will require more empathy and emotional intelligence

Investor's Notebook

Ironically, being a Muslim woman sitting in the backseat of a male driven Uber, in London, I was tickled to hear the radio announcement that HRH King Salman had finally decided to lift the moratorium for females to get behind the wheel. As with many liberties that I have been entitled to, the gender of my driver, or the fact that I don’t have a driver’s license in London, never crosses my mind. The same ride on the streets of Riyadh would, no doubt, resonate quite differently.

Women in the Middle East, and particularly, in Saudi Arabia, hold a very special place in my heart. I’ve spent many years teaching real estate investment classes in an MBA program in the Kingdom. The women there are tenacious, intelligent, and for the most part, hold higher level degrees than male counterparts. Truth be told they have been responsible for the paradigm shift that we are seeing today.

I have always believed when you educate women about finance, you pay dividends back to society. When you put women in top finance jobs, you inspire a nation, or in the case of Saudi Arabia, the world. The recent appointments of the three super females will help to break down some persistent stereotypes about women’s competence, giving them credibility, legitimacy and a common language that allows them to join a global conversation. Sarah Al Suhaimi, CEO of the Saudi Stock Exchange, Rania Mahmoud Nashar, CEO of Samba Financial Group, one of the country’s largest national banks, and Latifa Al Sabhan, CFO of Arab National Bank, are trailblazing a new path for a more gender neutral and inclusive banking and finance culture. The skillset these women and others like possess are ideal for the next generation of investments.

Despite having an Arabic name, I am not from the Middle East and I do not speak Arabic. My connection to Saudi Arabia occurred shortly after I moved to London from Houston Texas, to work for a newly launched sharia compliant investment bank in 2010. I was tasked to syndicate real estate investment deals in the Middle East.

Investor's Notebook

About Azeemeh Zaheer

Azeemeh Zaheer

Azeemeh Zaheer is Chief Executive Officer of Naissance Capital Real Estate Ltd, focusing on commercial real estate structuring and asset management. Before founding NCRE, Azeemeh worked for a shariah compliant real estate investment bank in London for 6.5 years. Azeemeh has held various senior roles in banking and government including Vice Consul, Head of Energy and US Oil & Gas Sector for the British Consulate General in Houston, as well as a licensed specialist in business lending, annuity investments, and private banking for both Bank of America (BAML) and Washington Mutual (Chase). Ms Zaheer completed the Real Estate Finance Executive Certification Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in June 2017, as well as the Real Estate Management Program at Harvard Business School in 2015, and received an Islamic Finance Qualification in 2010. In her spare time, Azeemeh voluntarily teaches real estate investment classes for women in the Middle East, including a 7-day real estate finance module for an MBA programme in Saudi Arabia.

Articles by Azeemeh Zaheer

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