Israeli bank chairman praises Saudi potential at FII summit in Riyadh

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The chairman of Israeli lender Bank Leumi Le-Israel BM spoke at an investment conference in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

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“The potential here is huge,” Samer Haj-Yehia, an Israeli-Arab originally from Taibeh, said at the Future Investment Initiative. He spoke of Saudi Arabia’s thriving economy, tech-savvy youth and high mobile penetration, while noting opportunities in the broader region’s under-banked and un-banked areas.

“We can see that there is a lot of investment going on and we want to tap into that kind of investment, whether it is on the payment side, whether it is in the it is in the crypto currency side, anything we can leverage from the micro-services and the cloud, we would love to do that.”

Arab-Israeli citizens make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population. Muslims from Israel have been allowed to travel to Saudi Arabia for religious pilgrimage, despite the lack of diplomatic ties between the two nations.

“Although he is an Israeli-Arab, and we can’t forget that Israeli Arabs travel to Saudi for the hajj every year, he didn’t come as a Muslim, but as chairman of Bank Leumi Le-Israel, and the name of the bank is meaningful here,” said Shaul Yanai, a Saudi expert at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

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