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Azeemeh Zaheer talks to HIA Magazine on New Age Banking & Generation F' with Kuwait Oil Comp

The 2008 financial crisis is not a distant memory in the minds of investors. The last downturn greatly impacted some of the largest institutions but more importantly, it resulted in a number of families having to foreclose on their homes.

Arguably, the banking system was originally strong but weakened due to the socialization of risk and the failures of leverage based systems. “Shariah Compliant Banking” has received a considerable amount of media attention in recent years as a less risky alternative to conventional banking. Some sources have pointed out that Adam Smith’s principal theory of the "Invisible Hand of Economics' has elements from his study of Al-Ghazali and Al-Dawwani and others, avowing, Prophet Muhammad, when asked about capping prices during a shortage in Medina that "prices depend on the will of god". In other words, you cannot sell what you do not own.

Gatehouse Bank plc (the “Bank’s”) ethos incorporates this principle and the other key principles in its business and investment banking model. The Bank is a fully authorised, Shariah Complaint, Real Estate focused Investment Bank based in London. The Bank operates from a client perspective, and consequently, shares profits or losses alongside its investors. It does this by co-investing with the investors. To date, the Bank advises on circa $2.5B assets under management and has a strong track record in real estate investments in the United Kingdom and the United States.

The lion share of the Bank’s investors are large GCC family offices seeking diversification and wealth preservation. The world’s wealthiest families incorporate real estate in their portfolios. Real-estate has been the source of revenue and wealth generation for years. Historically, men in the Middle East have been investing in real estate both locally and abroad. Middle Eastern Women, relatively new in international real estate investments, are now taking the stage. GCC women’s high net worth market is currently worth about $224 billion and accounts for 20.2% of the total wealth.

During the past five years, the Bank has been promoting financial literacy for women in the Middle East, running programs in both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The initiative, entitled Real Estate from an Investment Perspective or “REFIP”, was the brain child of Vice President, and Head of Institutional Relationships, Ms Azeemeh Zaheer. The catalyst for this project occurred when Azeemeh learned of a client’s sister, in Kuwait, being mis-sold an investment and then losing her inheritance.

Some of the Bank’s initiatives include teaching workshops within women conferences, free private tutoring for ladies and a “lunch and learn” session with Kuwait Oil Company.

Founder & Chairperson of the KCO Professional Women Networking KOC PWN, Ms Hosnia Hashim, “We reall

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