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Saudi Aramco appoints first woman to lead overseas office in build up to IPO

By Lawrence Gash

Former recruiter to head up Asia Singapore team

Saudi Aramco, the largest oil producer and exporter in the world, has named its first female head of an overseas office, days before the company goes public.

From December Marwa al-Khuzaim will lead the oil giant’s Asia Singapore office, taking over from Nader al-Arfaj.

With a bachelor's degree in computer science and a masters in international management specialising in oil and gas, al-Khuzaim joined Aramco in 2002 as a recruiter. She is currently the supply chain director for the Aramco Chemicals Company, an Aramco subsidiary.

Her appointment comes just days before Aramco goes public. The state-backed oil and natural gas behemoth is the most profitable company in the world and will dwarf Apple (AAPL), the current most profitable publicly listed company, when it lists in a share sale on November 17.

The listing is a major plank of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Vision 2030, which seeks to diversify the Kingdom’s economy and dependence on oil exports. Aramco hopes to raise between $20bn (£15.6bn, €18.2bn) and $40bn (£31.1bn, €36.3bn) from the initial public offering (IPO).

As well as modernising the economy, there have been growing calls for Saudi Arabia to grant greater freedoms to women. Last year women were allowed to drive for the first time ever in the kingdom. More recently female travel restrictions were loosened and the higher echelons of the armed forces were opened to women.

FURTHER READING: Long-awaited listing of oil giant Aramco announced

Only yesterday however, the Saudi state security Twitter page reaffirmed that feminism, atheism and homosexuality are considered extremist ideas punishable by imprisonment and flogging.

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