Arab Women Making their Mark

To celebrate the Arab region’s exceptional businesswomen, we have reached out to The Forbes List for 2022 and picked a sampling of the amazing Arab women from all over the region making their mark in business.

 

Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned

Chairwoman of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development

Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned, the mother of the current Emir of Qatar, is Chairwoman of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. The Foundation promotes international research, provides scholarships to Arab students around the world and is responsible for bringing some of the leading US university programs to Qatar. Sheikha Moza is also heavily involved in women’s and children’s initiatives, actively fighting domestic violence as well as working to improve children’s rights. She is also the force behind a new hi-tech women’s and children’s hospital. She also serves as President of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs and is Vice Chairperson of both the Supreme Education Council and the Supreme Health Council of Qatar.

Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani

Chair of Qatar Museums

Dubbed the “Queen of the Art World,” in Qatar, Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is the sister of Qatar’s current ruling Emir and is Chair of Qatar Museums, managing Qatar’s art collection and museum landscape. In that role she is dedicated to preserving and documenting the diversity of Islamic art and providing welcoming spaces where the international community can learn about Islamic culture. She is also the founder of the Doha Film Institute (DFI) and was awarded the StellaRe prize for her achievements in the industry. Sheikha Mayassa is also engaged in the fields of formal and informal education. She is particularly passionate in promoting the integration of arts and culture into curricula, and in increasing the availability of youth-centred art workshops and education programmes. Under her leadership of Qatar Museums, thousands of students have taken part in nearly 700 cultural visits to Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art, the Museum of Arabic Modern Art and the National Museum of Qatar. Beyond Qatar, she is Chairwoman for Reach Out to Asia (ROTA), an organisation devoted to providing access to education to underserved people across Asia.

Lubna Olayan

Boardmember of the Olayan Financing Company

Lubna Olayan has maintained her position as the most powerful Arab businesswoman of Forbes list for many years. Olayan stepped down in 2019 as the CEO of the Olayan Financing Company after serving in that post for more than 33 years. She remains on the board of the company, which was founded by her father in 1947 and is among Saudi Arabia’s largest conglomerates, engaged in distribution, manufacturing, services, and investment. Olayan became Chairwoman of the Saudi British Bank in 2019 and following the bank’s merger with Alawwal Bank creating the Kingdom’s third-largest lender, she was reappointed to a three-year term in January 2020.

Olayan also was the first woman to lead a business council in Saudi Arabia following her approval as president of the Saudi-Swedish Business Council by the General Authority for Foreign Trade. In 2004, she became the first woman to join the board of a Saudi publicly listed company when she was elected to the board of Alawwal Bank.

Farida & Yasmine Khamis

Chairman and Deputy Chairman at Oriental Weavers

Farida and Yasmine Khamis took charge of Oriental Weavers, the international carpet manufacturer, with the passing of their father, the iconic businessman, Mohamed Khamis, in 2020. Yasmine, the eldest sister, is Chairman of the Board of Oriental Weavers, while Farida is Deputy Chairman for Finance. Founded in 1979, Oriental Weavers is among the largest machine-made rug and carpet manufacturers in the world, with factories in Egypt and the U.S., and global sales averaging 48 carpets per minute. While Europe and the U.S. represent a strong share of its exports, the Khamis sisters have increased the company’s exports to the Arab region over the past two years. Revenues from exports to the region have gone from three percent of the company’s revenues in 2020 to eight percent of its revenue in 2022.

Sheikha Hanadi Bint Nasser Al Thani

Founder of Amwal & INJAZ

With an executive MBA from the London Business School and a master’s degree in economics from the University of London, Hanadi Bint Nasser Al Thani founded Amwal in 1998, the first regulated investment banking and asset and wealth management company granted a licence from the Qatar Central Bank. She also founded and chairs Injaz Qatar, a non-profit organisation that works on education and youth programs. A strong advocate of community service and corporate social responsibility, Sheikha Hanadi has received many accolades and global recognition for her success. She has been featured by Arabian Business in their list of most Influential Arabs for several years, and has been named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Sheikha Hanadi is also a member of the advisory board of the Harvard Business Review and Found Co-Chairperson of the 30% Club’s GCC chapter, a regional volunteer effort working towards better representation of women on boards and in senior level positions. She also served on the advisory board of the MIT Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship.

Raja Easa Al Gurg

Managing Director and Vice Chairperson of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg

Raja Al Gurg was named chairwoman of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group (ESAG) in May of 2022 after having served as Managing Director and Vice Chairperson of the Group. An outspoken advocate for gender equality, Al Gurg was the first Emirati woman to be appointed to the board of HSBC Middle East. She serves as the president of the Dubai Businesswomen Council and is a board member of the Dubai Women’s Association and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Al Gurg is known for her work in philanthropy and for supporting entrepreneurship. She is a founding board member of Endeavor UAE, a non-profit organisation promoting high-impact entrepreneurship in emerging and growth markets. Al Gurg also devotes much of her time to the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Charity Foundation and the Al Jalila Foundation, a UAE-based organisation dedicated to transformative contributions to global healthcare. AlGurg was awarded the Legion of Honour in 2020, by French President Emmanuel Macron, in appreciation of her efforts in strengthening the partnership between France and the UAE.

Aisha Bin Bishr

Member of the Board of Directors at the University of Wollongong in Dubai

Aisha Bin Bishr is the former Founding Director-General of Smart Dubai, as well as a Member of the Board of Directors at the University of Wollongong in Dubai. Under Bin Bishr’s leadership, Smart Dubai launched 130 initiatives with both government and private sector entities, which include the Dubai Data Initiative, the Happiness Agenda, and the Dubai Paperless Strategy. Bin Bishr was the brain leading the creation of the “The Smart City Index,” in cooperation with ITU and the UN, which reveals the smartest cities in the world through a study of cities’ adoption of new technologies for the creation of a more sustainable future for citizens. The index was the first benchmark for the implementation of smart cities worldwide.

Bin Bishr holds a PhD in Management, Science, Technology and Innovation and Master of Philosophy (MPhil), Policy and Research on Engineering, Science and Technology from Manchester Business School. She is a worldwide pioneer in the field of technology and has received many accolades, including the Excellence in Strategic Leadership Award in 2017 by Entrepreneur Middle East’s Enterprise Agility Awards.

Mona Zulficar

Founding Partner and Chairperson of Zulf icar and Partners Law Firm

A Founding Partner and Chairperson of the leading Zulficar and Partners Law Firm, Mona Zulficar has been a practising attorney for more than 35 years. She has gained international acclaim for handling major restructuring, project finance and M&A transactions. Among the major transactions Zulficar handled were the first commercial aircraft mortgage financing for EgyptAir in 1989, the sale of Citibank’s retail business to CIB, and the sale of Barclays Bank to Attijariwafa Bank (AWB). In 2017, Zulficar handled the first FiT Program for the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) to develop and finance the largest solar park in the world in Benban, near Aswan.

Zulficar has played a major role in drafting and developing economic legislation as an adviser to various governmental entities, and she has served as a member of the national drafting committees for the new Telecom Law and the new Capital Market Regulations in Egypt. Zulficar was awarded the Legion of Honour by the President of France in 2008 and the International Financial Law Review (IFLR) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 for her leading role in the field of law.