Kuwait: Bank To Open Separate Trading Hall For Women

The Media Line

Accommodating the growing number of Kuwaiti women wanting to trade, as well as Kuwaiti cultural tradition, the Kuwait Finance House is opening a trading hall exclusively for women at the local stock market exchange. “Women’s banking is no longer limited to deposit and withdrawal,” Tahani Saleh Al-Khamis, an area manager with the bank Kuwait Finance House told The Media Line. “[Women’s banking] has expanded over and beyond to include the demand for diversified products such as participation in investment funds and portfolios, particularly new and existing [ones].”

“We, in turn, offer them a complete package of data about the new and existing funds and portfolios in addition to the advice and consultation,” she said.

A statement from the bank described the new hall as being equipped “with the most modern means of technology and information including state-of-the-art computing and communication facilities providing an environment [with] speed and flexibility while highly private and secure, befitting women clients who wish to trade outside the official stock market building.”

The bank also said it is trying to produce a modern concept in banking services that allows women to take on a growing role and to develop their aspirations in the business community.

Hakim Al Fasulait, public relations manager at the Kuwaiti Stock Exchange, said there are already women at the stock exchange.

“[There are] about 30,000 [female] traders that have an account,” Al Fasulait told The Media Line. “But there is not much trading now. The market is not strong,” he said. “We used to trade for $350 million every day, now is about a quarter, $120 million,” he said.

A recent study showed that Kuwaiti women are very familiar with new technology as 53 percent spend more than seven hours a week online outside of work and 68 percent have an account on the social networking site Facebook.

In addition, Kuwait is one of the most politically progressive countries in the region. Women can vote, a right they won in 2005, and women can be elected into parliament, with four seats out of 50 being won by women in the last parliamentary elections in May 2009.

Some analysts, speaking to The Media Line off the record, said it still remains unclear if the latest move by Kuwait Finance House will prove beneficial for the women of Kuwait since the country’s financial sector remains very traditional and conservative. For instance, all women who work wear the hijab, the Islamic head scarf that covers the hair. The new hall could be an attempt by the bank to attract more female customers without forsaking the bank’s Islamic values.

Kuwait City, Adam Gonn

July 29, 2010