Salaam Gateway

Newly empowered #Saudi women to help drive growth at Al Rajhi Bank

Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank has opened 133 female-only branches and a car showroom for women to help them access car loans. Women have been allowed to attend mixed sporting events and will be able to drive from June. Al Rajhi Bank is a major provider of vehicle loans and has operated car showrooms since 2008. They were only for men until the bank opened its first women-only one late last year. Al Rajhi CEO Steve Bertamini said families usually have a large automobile already, so the cars for women tend to be smaller vehicles for commuting. He added that the bank would provide extended hours for women within existing car showrooms and increase the number of female bank branches in 2018. Women's increased economic activity will help the bank's loan growth outperform the 4% expected for the sector in 2018.

What’s the demand for #gold in Islamic markets?

The Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange (DGCX) plans to introduce a physically-backed Shariah-compliant spot gold contract. Trading is expected to begin March 29. This comes at a time when the global demand for gold dropped 7% to 4,071.7 tonnes in 2017. Among key Muslim-majority economies in 2017, Turkey saw the biggest demand for investment bars and coins, at 52.4 tonnes, representing 5% of global demand. Indonesia follows with 20.2 tonnes, equivalent to around 2% of global demand for investment bars and coins. Saudi Arabia leads Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, with 9.9 tonnes, representing around 0.96% of global demand. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) saw a demand of 5.5 tonnes, equal to around 0.53% of global demand. Globally, Greater China and India were the biggest markets for investment bars and coins, at 313.8 tonnes and 164.2 tonnes, respectively.

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