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Saudi Female Investment Bank CEO Returns To Lancaster

Dr. Nahed Taher, Lancaster University Management School grad and one of the world’s most powerful women, discussed the future of the GCC nations

By  Stephen Bush

Thu Aug 11 2011

While Western economies are in poor shape, there is cause for optimism amongst the oil-rich nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council according to Dr Nahed Taher, founder and CEO of the Gulf One Investment Bank.

Dr Taher was speaking at Lancaster University Management School recently, where she completed a PhD in Economics in 2001. Today she is ranked 24th in the Financial Times Women At The Top report and was one of only four Arab women to be ranked In the Forbes Top Hundred Women.

She was in Lancaster to receive an Honorary Professorial fellowship from the University. While on campus she spoke to the full-time MBA class about macroeconomics in the GCC.

She painted a picture of a region that has largely escaped the financial consequences of the current recession and, despite the potential hazards of the Arab Spring, has remained financially buoyant thanks to large oil revenues.

But all is not necessarily bright for the GCC nations – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – who face plenty of challenges alongside a picture of healthy economic growth. Unemployment, particularly among the young, remains high, and the risk of inflation, while lessened by the global downturn, is still very real.

The fruits of the region’s vast oil reserves do not diffuse much beyond a privileged and powerful oligarchy. Transport and infrastructure are still underdeveloped relative to the West and to the ‘tiger economies’ of Japan and South Korea. These problems could not only have dire political consequences, but economic ones as well.

Unlike in the Western world, Dr. Taher said, these problems would not be fixed through public sector spending, but should instead be addressed by private investment, as many of the sectors requiring investment, such as transportation and education, were low-risk, high-reward sectors to invest in, and thus should form an attractive target for private sector investment.

The investments required are already being run in part by Dr. Taher’s company, which runs a series of infrastructure and service-based projects, along the lines of the schemes that Gulf One already runs.

For example, the Moya Holding Company, which invests in clean water and desalination techniques, or the SCC Mena carbon adjustment research scheme. Plans such as these, says Dr. Taher, can prepare the GCC for the challenges of climate change and declining oil reserves, and head off the challenges of underinvestment in infrastructure and education.

She also said that during her time at Lancaster she realised that there were, “A lot of deficiencies” in her region and that she wanted to be, “Part of the solution”. She also gained a lot of confidence that she could, “Do a lot in the world” after graduation

Dr Taher also described her first meeting with the Saudi Minister of Finance in the conservative capital Riyadh. He was “shaking” at the prospect of meeting with a female, but Dr Taher told him that she was there simply as a professional.

One Lancaster student at the lecture described Dr Taher as, “Completely inspirational”.

Click here for highlights of Dr Nahed Taher's lecture at Lancaster.

Student Reviews

Lancaster University Management School




An exceptional educational establishment in the North West of England.

This university has been a fantastic life experience as well as a great academic one. I first decided to go to Lancaster University Management School due to its exceptional business education facilities and have not been disappointed. I recommend the university to anybody that wants to put themselves in a strong position for a career upon graduation.




On Campus

Student Ambassador

Overall, the instruction is decent, however it also depends on your department. The people are friendly, in my opinion. The sporting events are enjoyable, and there is a good sense of community. Although the city is quite remote, it is nonetheless attractive.




Lancaster University honest review

The education system in the university is excellent especially that of the Management School. The campus has great facilities for students to study and live in a relaxed manner. The students can engage in various activities through the socities.




Great opportunities to think beyond

Lancaster University provides a lot of good opportunities to think beyond.There Entrepreneurship in residence program helps students to meet and seek guidance about entrepreneurship and the challenges.Their Work in progress program help to fabricate your startup idea and further to pitch to the potential investors.Apart from that there are lot of programs like Enactus, guest lectures and guidance from seniors to help and shape your career needs. They provide lot of opportunities to shape up your employability skills.




On Campus

A top university in the UK for management science!

If you’re interested in management science studies, Lancaster University is one of the top universities in the UK. The faculty is renowned and have a sterling reputation for research in management science. Candidates specifically interested in Forecasting would find the Centre for Marketing Analytics and Forecasting especially relevant to their field. Besides, the ROI is good as the overall cost compared to other universities is less.




Great university for academia – not great for 'entrepreneurs'

Please keep in mind that my review is nuanced by my expectations of an Entrepreneurship degree :) I came to Lancaster University because it was one of the top universities to have a course in Entrepreneurship. After 4 years in this degree, my most valuable experience has been my placement and not the actual course. The course is heavily focused on impractical elements, which is a bit odd for an Entrepreneurship degree. There are some modules that involve hands-on work but the faculty support for such things has not been great. My course also involved a lot of teamwork which has been fantastic and really prepared me when it comes to dealing with the diversity of opinions. In terms of career prospects, the management school does A LOT to host events, workshops and support sessions to help you build up your employability skills. Although, I wish there was more acknowledgement of SMEs/startups as a viable career option. The entrepreneurship team which is meant to support budding businesses is really stepping up their game with tons of guest speakers, workshops and pitching opportunities. The location is a concern if you're not in STEM, Law or Accounting and Finance. Business requires networking with the broader community. However, for Lancaster students, the best bet is a trip down to Manchester or London. On the flip side, living in Lancaster is much cheaper! Overall, if the purpose of your university experience is to receive top academic education and have great facilities at your disposal, Lancaster is a great choice. But if you want to be in business and entrepreneurship, I would look elsewhere.