Lubna Olayan

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Lubna S. Olayan
Lubna S. Olayan World Economic Forum 2013.jpg
Olayan at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in 2013
Born (1955-08-04) August 4, 1955 (age 64)
Saudi Arabia
OccupationBusiness woman
Known forFirst woman to head a Saudi bank

Lubna Suliman Olayan (born August 4, 1955) (Arabic: لبنى سلیمان العليان ) is a Saudi business woman. Born to Sulaiman Olayan and Maryam bint Jassim Al Abdulwahab, Olayan was listed as one of the top 100 most influential people of 2005 by Time magazine, and continued to be on the Forbes list of most powerful women till 2011 and returned to the list in 2014.[1] In 2004, Olayan was the first woman in Saudi history to deliver an opening keynote address at a major conference in Saudi Arabia; at the Jeddah Economic Forum.[citation needed]

Career highlights[edit]

Olayan was the Chief Executive Officer of the Olayan Financing Company, and [2] (OFC), the holding entity for the Olayan Group's operations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East until May 1st 2019, when she was replaced by Jonathan Franklin. She also sits on the board of the group along with her brother Khaled and sisters Hayat and Hutham. It is thought that the private family has accumulated a fortune that tops $10 billion. The group was founded in 1947 by her father, the late entrepreneur Sulaiman S. Olayan, The Olayan Group is a private multinational enterprise engaged in distribution, manufacturing, services and investments. OFC operates or actively participates in more than 40 companies, often in partnership with leading multinationals. OFC is also one of the largest investors in the Saudi and regional stock markets. In April 2019, Olayan announced her retirement as CEO of Olayan Financing Company.[3]

In February 2005, Olayan was appointed as a non-executive director to the Board of WPP, and in December 2004, was elected to sit on the Board of the Saudi Hollandi Bank (now Alawwal Bank)[4], a publicly listed company in Saudi Arabia. In September 2006 and April 2007, she joined the International Advisory Boards of Rolls-Royce and Citigroup, respectively.

On June 16, 2019, Olayan was named Chairwoman of the Saudi British Bank (SABB)[5], making her the first Saudi woman to head a bank.[6], she was reappointed in January 2020 to serve a three year term, and assumed to hold to the position after the merger between SABB and Alawwal Bank.[7][8][9]

Olayan also served on the Board of Chelsfield plc, the UK property developer, from 1996 to 2004. She is a member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum, and the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations, which she joined in November and December 2005 respectively. In 2010, she was awarded the Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year.[10] As of 2014, she is listed as the 86th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.[1]

Other activities[edit]

In terms of education and philanthropy, Olayan joined the Board of Directors of INSEAD in December 2005, and has been a member of its International Council since March 1997. In April 2007, she was elected as a member of the Board of Trustees for Cornell University[11]. Olayan also joined the Advisory Board of Effat College, a private and non-profit girls college in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in April 2006. She is also a board member at Alfanar[12], the first venture philanthropy organization focusing on the Arab Region founded by Tarek Ben Halim in 2004. Olayan has served on the Board of Trustees of the "Arab Thought Foundation," a think tank based in Beirut focusing on issues facing the Arab world, since January 2002. Olayan was elected to the Board of the Down Syndrome Charitable Association in June 2005, a not-for-profit organization based in Riyadh. She was also appointed to the Board of Trustees of King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST). In June 2018, she was elected as a member of the MIT Corporation.[13]

Personal life[edit]

She is married to John Xefos, an international attorney from the United States, and they have three daughters all residing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


  1. ^ a b "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  2. ^ "Revealed: Lubna Olayan Retires as CEO of Olayan Financing Co.; Jonathan Franklin Named New CEO". Olayan. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  3. ^ Lubna Olayan Retires as CEO of Olayan Financing Co.; Jonathan Franklin Named New CEO
  4. ^ Lubna Olayan first Saudi woman to chair bank in Saudi Arabia Gulf News
  5. ^ SABB names Lubna Olayan as new chairperson Argaam
  6. ^ Lubna Al Olayan appointed as first woman Saudi bank head BBC
  7. ^ Lubna Olayan, first Saudi woman to chair merged SABB, Alawwal Bank Alarabiya
  8. ^ Saudi British Bank appoints Lubna Olayan as chairwoman for three-year term The National
  9. ^ Lubna Olayan takes chair of Saudi British Bank Arabian Business
  10. ^ "Lubna Olayan named Cornell Entrepreneur of the year 2010". Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  11. ^ CU honors Lubna Olayan as 25th Entrepreneur of the Year Cornell Chronicle
  12. ^ Lubna S. Olayan
  13. ^ MIT Corporation elects 10 term members, two life members MIT
  • Interview in the Arab News [1]
  • "A Saudi Vision for Growth" - 2004 speech at the Jeddah Economic Forum [2]