Top Israeli bank chairman to speak at Saudi investment event

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The Chairman of Israel’s Bank, Leumi, is due to speak at Saudi Arabia’s flagship investment conference in Riyadh on Thursday, in the latest sign of a potential thawing in relations between the two countries, Reuters reports.

Relations between Israel and some Gulf Arab states have been warming in recent years as they share concerns over Iran’s influence in the region. In 2020, Riyadh’s Gulf allies the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed historic US-brokered deals to normalise relations with Israel.

Organisers of the FII conference confirmed Bank Leumi Chairman, Samer Haj Yehia’s planned attendance in response to a Reuters query. Bank Leumi, one of Israel’s two largest banks, declined to comment.

Haj Yehia is due to speak on a panel titled “transforming banking and investment for the resilient economy” alongside other top finance executives, including from Rothschild & Company, Societe Generale and Wells Fargo, according to FII’s agenda.

Haj Yehia is the first Arab Israeli to serve as the Bank’s Chairman.

The FII’s sixth edition is being held amid a public spat between Riyadh and Washington over a decision by OPEC+ to cut oil production, a move US President Joe Biden vowed would have “consequences” for US-Saudi ties.

Top Wall Street executives, including JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon, Goldman Sachs’ David Solomon and a host of others, attended the event’s first day on Tuesday.

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