Gatehouse Bank promotes financial literacy in Saudi Arabia

Gatehouse Bank, a leading Shariah compliant bank based in the City of London and regulated by the UK Financial Services Authority, will be hosting a three day course as part of the MBA in Real Estate at Dar Al-Hekma College, the leading higher education institution for women in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Investing in education and developing the knowledge and skills necessary for long-term wealth preservation is a key objective for Gatehouse Bank, and the bank’s involvement in the course is part of a drive to promote financial literacy, particularly amongst women in Saudi Arabia.

Ms Azeemeh Zaheer, Vice President, Wealth Management at Gatehouse Bank and Mr Mohammad Razzouqi, Associate Vice President at GSH, Gatehouse Bank’s sister company in Kuwait, will be joining Dr. Suhair Hassan Al Qurashi, President & CEO, Dar Al-Hekma College, to share learnings and best practice with a select group of female students.

Family businesses account for approximately 90% of commercial activity in the Gulf region, where there are over 5,000 family firms amassing more than USD 500 billion in assets. Women are starting to play increasingly influential roles in these family offices, as Ms Azeemeh Zaheer, Vice President at Gatehouse Bank, explained:

“Women are gaining more and more financial influence in the Middle East, and as they become more economically independent the decision-making process has shifted to incorporate women’s interests and motivations. However, it’s essential that women are fully equipped with the right knowledge, tools and skills to make the most of these opportunities and really maximise the long term benefits of playing a more active role in business and investment decisions.”

During the three-day course, Gatehouse Bank will be focusing on real estate as an asset class, looking at the performance of property portfolios and examining the benefits of various real estate investment strategies.

Gatehouse Bank has previously hosted a series of real estate investment seminars across the GCC, helping women to improve their understanding of property fundamentals. However, this is the first time that the bank has actively been involved in a formal tutoring programme, and imparting a mix of practical and theoretical knowledge forms a key part of Gatehouse Bank’s commitment to promoting ethical Islamic banking practices and realising its wider corporate social responsibility agenda. Gatehouse Bank considers supporting education and knowledge sharing to be a core aspect of its commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability.

Established in 1999, Dar Al-Hekma has successfully set standards of excellence in the field of higher education both nationally in the Kingdom, regionally in the Gulf and internationally. It aims to equip young women with the specialised skills and knowledge to support their professional and personal growth, forming strategic international partnerships that support the creation and development of academic programmes to help widen female participation in the financial arena.

Mr Mohammad Razzouqi, Associate Vice President at GSH explained that real estate has long been a reliable source of revenue and wealth generation. “Seeking tangible, safe-haven assets is key to realising real estate’s potential. Investors are looking for assets that are located in good regulatory regimes, where there is transparency and a strong legal system so that their rights and their rights of ownership are protected. This is particularly relevant for female investors, and as they have become more financially independent we need to make sure that we are providing them with the right advice and solutions to enable them to build and diversify their portfolios in the best possible way,” he said.

The UK has a growing reputation as one of the most popular destinations for Islamic finance investment in Europe. It offers a significant number of benefits to real estate investors, including a relatively transparent environment, flexible labour laws, and a heavy concentration of high quality buildings and desirable areas. It also offers a strong and improving infrastructure and transport system, with real estate leases that tend to be longer than elsewhere, abolishing of double stamp duty along with mainly upwards-only rent reviews that are highly favourable for landlords.