Recent Executive Moves in Banking & Financial Services – MENA

January 2023 - December 2022

Contact RRA consultant | Kanu Rajguru

January 2023

  • AHLI UNITED BANK LONDON has appointed Julie Azharian as Deputy CEO. Julie joins from Emirates NBD in London where she was the Head of Private Banking for over five years. Prior to this, Julie was the Head of Private Banking at QIB (UK). She has also held roles with Barclays Wealth, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Citi over her 24 year career.

  • CRÉDIT AGRICOLE SAUDI ARABIA has hired Mohammed Abalkhail as Managing Director – Investment Banking. Prior to this he was Advisor/Chief Investment Officer for three years for an entity in Riyadh (undisclosed) having previously held Head of Investment Banking roles at both Alistithmar Capital and Albilad Capital over a four year period. He spent 11 years at Saudi Fransi Capital in various roles having started his career at Saudi Aramco.

  • CRÉDIT AGRICOLE CIB has also hired Neil Jones as Managing Director – Head of Global Coverage & Investment Banking, Middle East & Africa. He joins from Mizuho in Dubai where he spent over seven years, latterly as Managing Director (General Manager), Head of Corporates & FIG, MENA & Turkey. Before this Neil spent over 14 years at Royal Bank of Scotland, latterly was Acting Country Executive & Managing Director, Head of International Banking, MEA in Dubai having relocated to the country in 2008. He has also previously held roles with SMBC, Société Generale and Calyon.

  • DUBAI FINANCIAL SERVICES AUTHORITY (DFSA) has appointed Rupert Keeley to the Board of Directors. Keeley brings over 40 years of international experience in financial services, having held several senior leadership roles at PayPal, Visa and Standard Chartered. He is currently an advisor to several financial services companies, including the NatWest Group, and an Independent Non-Executive Director of NewDay, a consumer credit business in the UK.

  • FASSET, a digital asset exchange for emerging markets, announced the appointment of Khalid Dannish as General Manager for MENA. Khalid brings a track record of success as the former CEO and Board Member of Bahrain FinTech Bay, where he led the development and growth into a leading fintech hub in the Middle East. Prior to his appointment, Khalid held various leadership positions in the financial services industry, focused on investment banking, market risk management and technology, where he was previously Vice President at J.P. Morgan and Barclays Capital in London.

  • GOLDMAN SACHS’ Gabriel Aractingi, Head of Wealth Management – MENA, has left the bank due to personal reasons. Aractingi joined Goldman Sachs in April 2021 to run its MENA private wealth management unit out of Geneva. During his tenure, Aractingi led a period of expansion for the bank in the Middle East. At the time of his appointment, Goldman Sachs pledged to double the size of its regional private banking business – both in terms of headcount and the amount of client money it manages.

  • MASHREQ has appointed Radu Topliceanu as Head of NEO and Personal Banking. He will help grow its digital bank Neo as well as its Personal Banking Division. Radu spent the last three years with BRD Groupe Société Générale in Romania as Deputy CEO of the bank and Head of Retail Banking, heading a team of 4,000+ professionals serving more than two million customers. Previously, he worked in leadership positions with Standard Chartered in Singapore, Sberbank Europe in Austria and Raiffeisen Bank in Romania and Austria. He holds an MBA from Romanian-American Business School (ASEBUSS) in Bucharest.

  • MASHREQ also welcomes Aziz Ata as Global Head of Financial Institutions and Non-Banking Financial Institutions. Aziz joins from HSBC where he held different roles including Regional Head of Debt Capital Markets, MENA, Regional Head of the Debt Financing and Liability Solutions platform and most recently, Head of the Financial Institutions Group and Public Sector, MENAT. Aziz’s responsibilities involve overseeing Mashreq’s FI and NBFI segments worldwide, developing and implementing the business plan for the division, providing senior leadership for key client relationships, and managing regulatory, industry, and obligor risks across the portfolio.

  • MORGAN STANLEY'S Sammy Kayello, Regional CEO for MENA, is stepping down, though he will remain with the business as a senior adviser at the Wall Street bank. Morgan Stanley's CEO for Saudi Arabia Abdulaziz Alajaji and the bank's head of investment banking for MENA, Patrick Delivanis will succeed Kayello as Regional Co-Heads of MENA. The U.S. bank said Alajaji and Delivanis will keep their existing roles as well as taking on their expanded responsibilities. Gokhan Unal will become MENA Vice Chairman at the U.S. bank, in addition to his existing leadership responsibilities in Morgan Stanley's investment management business.

  • NATIXIS SAUDI ARABIA has hired Sami Arwadi as Head of Investment Banking. He arrives from GIB Capital where he has spent almost 11 years, most recently as Senior Director - Investment Banking for the past 20 months. Before this he was a Senior VP and VP within investment banking with the firm. Prior to this, Sami spent over seven years at HSBC in Saudi Arabia in Global Banking & Markets, Advisory and Corporate Finance. He started his career at Grant Thornton in KSA within the Auditing division for seven years. He holds an MBA from London Business School.

  • NATIONAL BANK OF BAHRAIN has hired Usman Ahmed as Group Chief Executive Officer, effective 1st January following the retirement of Jean-Christophe Durand. Usman has over 27 years of diverse international banking experience and joins from Citi where he has held various senior leadership roles over the past 14 years including as CEO, Managing Director and Board Member. His experience spans across regional and country leadership positions, encompassing Corporate & Investment Banking, Capital Markets, Commercial, Consumer and Islamic Banking in vital cities and countries across the globe, including, London, Hong Kong, Dubai, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bahrain and Malaysia.

  • OMAN ARAB BANK has appointed Sulaiman Hamad Al Harthi as Chief Executive Officer effective 4th January. With more than 33 years’ experience in the banking sector, Al Harthi has held several senior positions at major local banks, including Deputy CEO of Oman Arab Bank and CEO of Alizz Islamic Bank. Al Harthi holds a master’s in finance from Leicester University, UK and has completed executive management programmes at Harvard Business School and Insead Business School, the bank said. In a separate note, Oman Arab Bank – the principal shareholder of Alizz Islamic Bank – announced that Al Harthi has resigned from the position of the CEO of the latter bank and the board accepts his resignation. Ali Saif al Mani, the General Manager, will take over as Chief Executive Officer of Alizz Islamic Bank.

  • PATIENT SQUARE CAPITAL announced Kaveh Samie as Chairman and CEO of MENA and Head of International Fund Partnerships. Kaveh joins from Neuberger Berman in Dubai where he was Executive Chairman and Head of MENA. He has also served as a Senior Advisor to Patient Square. Prior to this he was the CEO and Head of MENA and New Markets for KKR having been Managing Director and Global Head of Equities for HSBC MENA. Prior to this role he was the Regional Head of Equities covering sovereign wealth funds, government entities and family offices at Salomon Smith Barney and Citigroup. He’s also worked at Oppenheimer & Co., Prudential Securities and Julius Baer.

  • SAUDI BRITISH BANK has reappointed Lubna Sulaiman Olayan as Chair of the Board. Lubna will serve another three-year term as Chairperson of the bank. Olayan was first appointed to the role in 2019 and was the first woman to serve as the head of a Saudi Arabian bank. Saad Abdulmohsen Al Fadly was appointed as Vice Chairman.

  • STC PAY has appointed Nizar Altwaijri as Chief Executive Officer. Nizar joins from Arab National Bank where he spent over 22 years most recently as Deputy Managing Director for almost two years. Previously he was General Manager and Head of Corporate Banking having been promoted from Deputy GM. Before this he held several positions within the corporate banking division over a 16 year period.

  • UBS is hiring Sanjay Advani and members of his private banking team that serve Non-Resident Indians and are set to join UBS in the coming months from Credit Suisse as the Swiss bank continues to expand its Gulf business that caters to India’s wealthy diaspora.

December 2022

  • CITIGROUP named Hamza Girach and Rizwan Shaikh as Co-Heads of Emerging Markets at its banking, capital markets and advisory division in EMEA.  Girach and Shaikh have been with the bank for roughly two decades. Girach was part of the team that covered Saudi Aramco's record IPO in 2019.  Citigroup also appointed Miguel Azevedo as Chairman of Emerging Markets EMEA Investment Banking.

  • DALMA CAPITAL GROUP, the alternative investment management firm has acquired The Global CIO Office, an independent, outsourced Chief Investment Officer (CIO) services business. Gary Dugan, founder and CEO of The Global CIO Office, joined Dalma Capital Group in the newly established role of Chief Investment Officer.

  • DEUTSCHE BANK announced the appointment of Alanoud Alqahtani as General Manager of Saudi Arabia. Alqahtani will have oversight of the bank’s SAMA entity. Alqahtani has over 15 years of experience. She joined Deutsche Bank Saudi in 2016 as a Middle Office Manager in the Wealth Management department and was subsequently appointed as Head of International Private Bank (IPB) Operations Saudi Arabia in 2019. She was appointed Chief Operating Officer in March 2021 overseeing the bank’s activities across all businesses and infrastructure functions. Prior to joining the bank, she worked in various operational positions at HSBC, Riyad Capital and Arab National Bank.

  • EFG INTERNATIONAL has promoted Ali Sandila to Chief Executive Officer of its Dubai Advisory Office. He succeeds Sascha Pietrek, who has decided to step down. He will report directly to François Farjallah, Head of Middle East Region. Ali will focus on further strengthening EFG’s presence in the UAE (DIFC). Ali has over two decades of experience in wealth management and private banking. He joined EFG in 2019, when the bank commenced operations in Dubai as Head of Private Banking. Before this he served as Market Head for the Middle East and Board Member at LGT Bank Middle East. He has previously held roles with Julius Baer, Mashreq Bank, ABN Amro and UBS.

  • EMIRATES NBD announced various strategic changes to its Group Executive Committee, including expanding the responsibility of existing senior management team members.
    • Marwan Hadi, who is Head of Retail Banking UAE, takes over as Group Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management from Suvo Sarkar, who will retire after a decade-long tenure at Emirates NBD.
    • Ahmed Al Qassim, currently Group Head of Corporate and Institutional Banking, and member of the bank’s group executive committee, will become the Group Head of Wholesale Banking.
    • Ammar Al Haj has been appointed as Group Treasurer and Head of Global Markets.
    • Aazar Ali Khwaja, formerly serving as Group Head of Global Markets and Treasury, has been appointed as Group Head of International and Advisor to the Group CEO for DenizBank.
    • Neeraj Makin, formerly the Group Head for International and Group Strategy, will now be responsible for leading the bank’s newly approved Corporate Venture Capital Fund.

  • NETWORK INTERNATIONAL has appointed Sandeep Chouhan as Group Chief Business Transformation and Technology Officer. Sandeep will be responsible for driving strategic transformation to accelerate business growth, operating efficiency and innovation in processing and acquiring products, as well as reducing time-to-market for banks, merchants and fintechs. Sandeep most recently served as Acting CEO and Group COO at Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank. He brings over 30 years of experience in business management, digital transformation, technology modernisation and agile operations. Sandeep also has a track record of building and running technology, digital and operations at Citi, Barclays, Mashreq, CBQ and Discover Card.

  • STANDARD CHARTERED BANK SAUDI ARABIA has appointed Mazen Fahad Al Bunyan as Chief Executive Officer - KSA (joined in November 2022).  He was previously the CEO of Alawwal Invest in Riyadh. Standard Chartered launched its operations in Riyadh in June 2021. Prior to this, Mazen held roles as Co-Head of Global Banking, Global Banking & Markets and Head Saudi Global Corporates at SABB having joined from Deutsche Bank where he was Vice President – Corporate Banking Coverage. He spent the first ten years of his career at SABB in various roles.




      Contact RRA consultant | Kanu Rajguru

      Kanu Rajguru
      Kanu Rajguru oversees Banking & Financial Services for Middle East & Africa and is a member of the global financial services practice. He has over 26 years executive search and recruitment experience and has completed searches in over 35 countries including for the past 16+ years across the Middle East & Africa.
      Mobile: +971 50 845 2830


      Burak Gorbon
      Based in our Dubai office, Burak Gorbon is a member of the Middle East leadership team and also heads the firm’s Turkey operations. He advises regional and global clients on their leadership teams and boards. Burak’s focus is on recruiting CEOs, other C-level executives and non-executive directors. He is a trusted advisor to a wide range of  Banks, and other  financial institutions.
      Mobile: +971 52 646 5256


      Nic Cutts
      Nic Cutts is a senior member of the firm’s global Leadership & Succession Practice and Head of Financial Services Advisory Services for Russell Reynolds EMEA. He is a (UK) Chartered Psychologist with over 20 years international consulting experience, having assessed and coached many C-level executives. He has led several large scale M&A and transformation initiatives in the financial services sector, where his consulting services have focused on individual, team and organization-wide initiatives.
      Mobile: +971 55 560 9820