16 of the top 100 companies in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) are led by extraordinary Women. Egypt had the majority closely followed by Saudi Arabia. Here are the 50 of the most Powerful Arab Women who are highly successful the business world in MENA primarily in the tech industry.
1. Naglaa El Ehwany:
Naglaa El Ehwany was born on the 9th of March in 1951. She has been a Professor of Economics at the Faculty of Economics at Cairo University since 1998. This was the same University she studied at to get her PhD in Economics back in July of 1984. From 2011 to 2014 she was appointed as the Economic Advisor to the Prime Ministers of Egypt. After that she was appointed as Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation from June 2014 to September of 2015.
Aside from her larger work she was from 1977 to 2002 she was often a Consultant to international and national organizations such as the UN Economic and the International Labor Organization.
2. Hessa Al Jaber:
Hessa Bint Sultan Al Jabe is an engineer and former politician. She was in office from 2013 to 2016. She has a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Kuwait University. She studied to get her masters and Ph. D in Computer Science.
She was voted national figure of the year as recognition for her public service. In 2012 Arabian Business listed her as being the 30th most powerful Arab Woman. Mashable (a global social media news company had her in the list of the eight most impressive Women working technology throughout the 2000s. She is rank 5 of the 200 most powerful Arab Women, an article published by Forbes.
3. Amy Mowafi:
Amy Mowafi is the Co-Founder and CEO of the M04Network. The company was founded back in 2011 and the network incorporates several platforms like Cairo Zoom and start-up Scene. Amy is the author of the book ‘Fe-mail: The trials and tribulations of being a Good Egyptian Girl’.
Amy originally lived in the UK; her family was from Egypt. But in 2002 she went to live in Egypt and has stayed there ever since. She started her career as a write for an Egyptian Lifestyle magazine called ‘Enigma’. She eventually worked her way up to Managing Editor.
4. Mai Medhat:
Mai Medhat is a software engineer from Egypt and is currently the CEO of Eventtus a Company she Co-Founded back in 2011. She understood that Events can be stressful for not only the attendees but also the organizers. She partnered with Nihal Fares to create the app. The two had met at University as undergraduates studying Computer Engineering. The two had worked together on the graduation project which didn’t take off, but they would soon find success with Eventtus.
5. Reem Asaad:
Reem Asaad was the CEO of Raya Contact Center that was founded in 2001. Raya provides customer support for their clients. They have clients across North America, Europe. The Middle East and Africa.
Reem Asaad has now joined Cisco. She was seen by Forbes as one of the Most Influential Women in the Middle East. Reem has over 20 years’ experience across the many different industries such as technology and customer experience. On Linkedin her location is listed as Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She currently publishes articles.
6. Rania Nashar:
The first female CEO of Saudi Commercial Bank, Samba Financial Group is Rania Nashar. She became CEO back in 2017 when the company was trying to promote gender equality as part of its Vision 2030. The company is the fourth-largest bank and as of September 2019 it has $63 billion in assets.
She has been ranked as number 3 most powerful Women in the middle east by Forbes which is extremely impressive as just the year before she was placed at 97 in the ranking!
7. Nezha Hayat:
The Chairperson and CEO of Morocco’s Capital Market Authority is Nezha Hayat. She has been since 2016. The company is responsible for the country’s non-banking capital markets like the stock exchange and the brokerage firms.
Nezha is a women’s rights advocate, and she is the president of the non-profit organization Club des Femmes Administrateurs d’entreprises in Morocco.
8. Mona Yousuf Almoayyed:
Mona Yousif Almoayyed is a famous Philanthropist, Businesswoman, Environmentalist and Women’s Rights Campaigner. In 2013 she was voted the third most influential Arab Women’s List the MENA region by Forbes Middle East.
Her company Almoayyed & Sons is a diversified group that was established in 1940. They have divisions that specialize in trading, contracting, telecom services and more. Her passion is being Environmentally friendly. She won the King Cup for Big Gardens in 2007.
She faced many obstacles attempting to succeed in the Middle East as many Arab girls faced and are still facing to this day. But she made it and she’s all the better for going through that stuff. Sometimes the difficult times can push us to be better and she is the living proof of that.
9. Khawla Al-Asadi:
Khawla Al-Asadi is ranked as 12th most powerful person on Forbes list. She has been at Iraq’s largest bank, the Rafidain Bank for over two decades. As of December 2017, it had over $80 billion in assets. She is the General Manager at the bank.
10. Sarah Al Suhaimi:
Sarah is the chairperson Tadawul which the Middle East’s largest stock exchange. She has been the CEO of the NCB Capital since March 2014. She is also a graduate of Harvard University and the King Saud University.
11. Lubna Olayan:
The first Saudi woman to serve on the board of a publicly traded company in 2004 for the Saudi Holandi bank was Lubna Olayan. In 2019 she became the chairperson of the Saudi British Bank, the market value for this bank is around 18 billion.
12. Laila Mamou:
Laila has been with the Credit Agricole Consumer Finance since 1990. She is the Director of Subsidiaries and Affiliates and a member of the Credit Agricole Consumer Finance Group Executive Committee, chair of Wafasalaf in Morocco. She also holds positions in the Credit Agricole subsidiaries in Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and Spain.
13. Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch:
The AKSAL Group has been the one franchisee of Zara in Morocco for 20 years. They also developed Morocco’s largest mall in Casablanca. Salwa the CEO of AKSAL Group opened more malls in Marrakech and Rabat.
14. Mona Zulficar:
Mona is founding partner and Chairperson of Zulficar & Partners. She has always lived in Egypt and that’s currently where the firm is. She plays a key role in drafting new legislations. She has had several other jobs and she has been a member of the National Council for Human Rights since 2013.
15. Doha Abdelkhaleq:
In 2000 Doha Abdelkhaleg co-founded ESKADENIA Software. Now the software development company has offices in Asia, Europe and Africa. They have hired over 200 professionals and have many loyal customers in each of the Countries.
Daha and her husband started the business back in 1999. She has a legal background and she thought it helped the business, it was most useful when dealing with trademarks and negotiations over business and legal issues. She was named as Jordan’s Top Businesswomen by venture magazine.
16. Pakinam Kafafi:
Pakinam Kafafi has been CEO of TAQA Arabia, a Gas and Energy Company, since 2013. When she joined the business in 2003, she was investment manager due to the fact she started her career in investment banking. The business was originally named Genco until in 2006 it was acquired by Qalaa Holdings and formed into TAQA Arabia.
17. Nadia Fassi Fehri:
Nadia is the President and General Manager of the Moroccan telecommunications company Inwi. She was leading Inwi until October 2020 when she was replaced by Azzedine El Mountassir Billah. She has since found another job at OCP. She joined the Group’s Top Management and has the role of Chiefl Transformation Officer. She is also part of their strategic committee.
18. Shihana S. AlAzzaz:
Shihana Alazzaz is the General Counsel and Secretary-General to the board at PIF (Public Investment fund). She has been since 2018 but just the year before she had joined PIF as the Head of Transactions in the Legal Division. She is part of the Management Committee.
Before joining PIf Shihana was a practicing lawyer. Over the 9 years she spent in this role she had partnered with many international law firms. She was listed among the 100 Most Powerful Women in 2020 by Forbes Middle East and received many awards such as the Finance Monthly Deal Maker Award in 2016. Shihana has a bachelor’s in law from Durham University based in England.
19. Amal Bahwan:
Amal has been the head of 5 different companies. Currently she is leading four different companies.
- Chairman of National Bank of Oman (2020)
- Chairman of Al Jazeera Steel Products Company (2018)
- Managing Director and Director of DHL Global Forwarding& Co. LLC (2016)
- Director of National Pharmaceutical Industries Co (2012)
She juggles all that with being on the board of 5 other companies. You can easily see why she placed among 100 of the most powerful women in MENA by Forbes Middle East.
20. Hend El Sherbini:
Hend is the CEO and Director of the Company IDH (Integrated Diagnostics Holdings), and with more than 30 years of experience in the health care sector she is a perfect fit for the role. The group has operations in Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and Nigeria, they have served seven million across their 452 branch labs.
She is also a professor at Professor at the University of Cairo, the same place she received her doctorate and graduate degree. She got her MBA from London Business School.
21. Müjde Esin:
Müjde Esin was nominated in as Turkey’s Female Social Entrepreneur of 2018. She has devoted the education and well-being of girls. She uses the platform KizCode (in Turkish Kiz means girl) to organize workshops in coding, project management, presentation and various other skills. It offers mentorship programs for girls in Turkey and the UK that are at a disadvantage. They want to expand to other countries.
22. Sezen Saral:
Sezen is the co-founder of the tech company ‘reeder’ based in Turkey. She is the first woman to bring an E-Book to Turkey. In 2018 she was titled Turkey’s top female entrepreneur in 2018, eight years after the brand was founded.
She originally got interested in selling E-Book readers after trying to sell her old one. There was more interest than she was expecting. There were not any E-Book readers available back then. In the first six months of the company being live they sold over 10,000 readers.
23. Dilek Telkes:
Dilek is the Founder and CEO of Videomite. She is currently based in Istanbul, Turkey where she founded the company in 2013. She had two previous jobs as Sales Manager at Microsoft and Industry Leader at Google. She graduated in Management at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey.
24. Mervat Zohdy El Sayed Soltan:
Mervat has been Chairperson and Export Development Bank of Egypt since 2016. Overall, she has 36 years of banking experience. She worked many jobs before becoming chairman for example she was the Regional Head of Financial Institutions. She has MBA from the American University in Cairo.
25. Rawan Al Said:
Currently Rawan Ahmed Thabit Al-Said holds the position of Chief Executive Officer at Takaful Oman Insurance. In the past she worked as Chairman at National Bank of Oman among other jobs. She received her undergraduate degree from The American University in Cairo and a graduate degree from Loughborough University.
26. Narjes Farookh Jamal:
Narjes is the Chief Operating Officer at Bahrain Bourse. Jamal is head of the digital transformation function at Bahrain Bourse and is board member Bahrain Clear. Bahrain Bourse offers a six-month program for the Youth, they will learn skills useful for the world of business, such as investment and trading.
27. Salma Nasser al Maawali:
Salma is the current Chief Executive Officer at FRiENDi mobile. She has been at that company for over 7 years now. She was the Finance Director until 2018. She has also held the position of Department Head for business and planning at Omani Qatari Telecommunications Company. As well as another role in the same company. She started off her career as Accounts Supervisor in January 2005 at Oman Air.
She got her bachelor’s at University of South Carolina-Columbia and her master’s from University of Nevada-Reno.
28. Emine Çark:
Emine Çark is CEO of Turkey’s Ege PetroKimya. She was working for a chemical company when she made the decision to launch her own business in 2011. The company is based around producing chemical and they now sell over 63 different products to clients across the country. On the road to becoming so successful she had a lot of obstacles to overcome as the industry was so male dominated.
29. Begüm Savaşan:
28-year-old bioengineer, Begüm Savaşan, co-founded an innovative tech start-up called ‘Nailtronics’ in her hometown Izmir in January 2018. With the help of governmental science and tech fellowship she gained the confidence to take a leap of faith. She had the help of Oguz Yetkin a colleague from the University. They both had experience with working on hand prosthetics.
They planned on making the mouse and keyboard obsolete with a wearable smart fingernail. After launching the company was accepted to pitch at the European Start-up Festival in September 2018. They received a lot of positive feedback and plan to expand into the gaming market in the US.
30. Hind Bahwan:
Hind Bahwan founded Bahwan CyberTek in 1999. They provide innovative software products and services, with over 1000 customers. Hind is the Chairperson of the company, but she is also the Chairman of the Omani French Friendship Association. She graduated in Computer Science and is a Harvard Business School alumna. As well as a Kellogg School of Management Executive Scholar in leadership and management.
31. Maryam Al Suwaidi
Maryam Al Suwaidi controls the licensing, supervision and enforcement of all the financial exchanges in the U.A.E. She ranks at 47 on the Forbes 100 powerful women in the middle east list.
32. Basmah Al-Mayman
Basmah Al-Mayman is a founding member of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritag. She later became a member of the board of directors. Over the years she has had many positions. In 2018 she became the Middle East Regional Director at the UN World Tourism Organization. At King Saud University she got a bachelor’s degree in English literature and linguistics. She also got an MBA from Al-Faisal University.
33. Aisha Bin Bishr
Aisha Bin Bishr is the Emirati Director General of Smart Dubai. A government organization that is responsible for the implementing smart tech into the city. Notably Bin Bishr is also the Chairperson of the Sustainable Development Goals 11 Global Council. She was selected as one of the most influential Arabs in 2019 by Arabian Business.
Aisha has a PHD in Management, Science, Technology and Innovation and Master of Philosophy, Policy and Research on Engineering, Science and Technology all from Manchester Business School. She has also studied at Higher Colleges of Technology and received a Bachelor of Science among other degrees. From Dubai School of Government, she got a degree in Public Finance Management.
34. Yasmine & Farida Mohamed Farid Khamis
Yasmine & Farida are daughters of the business giant Mohammad Kamis. Together they lead one of the largest machine-made rug and carpet manufacturers in the world, Oriental Weavers Carpets Co. In 2018 it was recorded that their revenues were $500 million.
35. Nashwa Al Ruwaini
Nashwa not only manages a group of companies that are all subsidiaries of Pyramedia Group, but she is a television star. She had a show called ‘With Nashwa’ that first aired in 2005 and she soon earned the title of “Oprah of the Middle East” she holds down a lot of jobs and I’ve listed a few below.
- CEO and Board Member of Pyramedia, Media Production and Consultancy
- CEO of Al Joude Advertising and Publicity
- CEO of Delma Medical Centre and Spa
- Founder of Nashwa Jewellery
- Co-Founder and Board Member of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival
She got a Master of Science and a Master of Philosophy at School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
36. Henadi Al-Saleh
Henadi is a Chairperson of the Company Agility. She is the leader of the company’s corporate governance program. She leads the tech ventures team. Al-Saleh has more than two decades of experience and previously worked for NBK Capital in Kuwait.
37. Abir Leheta
Abir is the CEO of the Egytrans a company that has eight branches in places like airports and transport centers. The company boasts more than 350 employees. Abir has been Chairman for 5 years but has been a board member for 14 years. She got her bachelors from the American University in Cairo.
38. Aisha Al Mana
Aisha is the founder of Al-Sharika Al-Khalijiah Lil Inmaa (Al-Khalijiah Development Company), which was the first company in Saudi Arabia run solely by women. It was a company that focused on offering women the chance to take up computer training. They wanted a research centre that would concentrate time and resources on researching women in the workplace.
She later became the first female hospital director in Saudi Arabia when she took the job of Director of Support Services at the Almana Group of Hospitals. She took Sociology at the American University of Beirut and later would get a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Oregon.
39. Deemah Sukhtian
Deemah has kept the family business, Munir Sukhtian Group Company, running in Jordan. She is the Managing Director of the group and they now have presence in over 25 countries around the world. She ranked 65 on Forbes Most Powerful Women in Middle East Article.
40. Devaki Khimji
Devaki Khimji is the managing director of the Al Tasnim Group. They have a large team and focus on manufacturing and exporting finishing materials to India and Qatar. She was ranked at 44th of Forbes listing of Most Powerful Women in the Middle East.
41. Raja Easa Al Gurg
Raja is the managing director of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group as well as being a board member of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. From 1978 to 1989 she was a headmistress of the Zabeel Secondary School for Girls. She left that job to join the Board of Directors at the Easa Saleh Al Gurg group. She is ranked as number 1 on Forbes listing of the Most Powerful Women in the Middle East. She graduated from Kuwait University in 1977 with a degree in English Literature.
42. Ghada Waly
Ghada is currenty on the board of several civil society organizations and is focused on empowering Women. From March 2014 to December 2019, she served as Minister for Social Solidarity. She has been in leadership positions like the managing director of Social Fund for Development. She has diplomas in international development and project management from University of Colorado Boulder. She has a Master’s, and a Bachelor’s in Humanities from Colorado State University.
43. Dalia Hazem Gamil Khorshid
Dalia is the first women in Egypt to be in a position of Minster of Investment. She was given that position in 2016. In June Khorshid announced the establishment of three new free trade zones. She was vice president of corporate finance at Citibank. And just before she got her position in the government, she was a group treasurer at Orascom Construction Industries. She studied American University of Cairo to get her bachelor’s degree.
44. Lobna Helal
In 2011 Lobna Helal became the first women to ever be appointed as deputy governor of the Central Bank of Egypt. Two years after she resigned from that position. Then in 2015 she was appointed the same position. To this day she still in that same position. She is also a board member at Telecom Egypt.
45. Hayat Sindi
Hayat Sindi was the first Saudi woman to be accepted into Cambridge University for a PHD degree in biotechnology. She passed successfully and became a medical scientist. She has made and continues to make major contributions into the subject of medical testing and biotechnology.
46. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi
Sheikha is the first women to hold a ministerial post in the United Arab Emirates. She joined the cabinet in 2004 and now she’s working to gain diversity in U.A.E. as the Minster of Tolerance. She studied in the US, England and Korea. She has got a Bachelor of Arts/science.
47. Wadha Ahmed Al-Khateeb
Wadha is the deputy CEO of the Kuwait National Petroleum Company. The company earned $30 billion revenues in 2019. Impressively Wadha was the first woman to head the “Gas Processors Association”. She is currently in charge of the Mina Refinery. She has been with the company for nearly 25 years and has held many positions. Her first position was Senior Processing Engineer. She became a Chairperson of the Kuwait Paraxylene Production in 2019.
48. Nancy Ajram
Nancy is a most well known for her work television shows like the Voice Kids. But she is a philanthropist and has done lots of humanitarian work. Back in 2009 UNICEF chose Ajram to be the first female regional ambassador for the Middle East and North Africa. She has started and participated in a lot of charity events like The Big Ball in Dubai which raised over Dhs 940,000 that went towards helping underprivileged children.
49. Melda Yasar Cebe
Melda is a successful businesswoman with over 21 years of experience in the world of business behind her. She worked for over 16 years at Procter and Gamble and she has been working for four years at The Kraft Heinz Company. She is currently the general manager. She got her MBA in Marketing/Marketing Management, General at Koç University and a Bachelor of Applied Science at Boğaziçi University.
50. Vidya Ramnath
Vidya Ramnath is the President of Emerson and Emerson Automation Solutions for Middle East and Africa and has been since 2019. In 2010 she was a platform leader for Digital Transformation Sales for the Plantweb brand. She was focused on Asia, but she soon moved onto a global scale. Vidya has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a Master of Sciences in Industrial Engineering.
These are just fifty of the powerful Arab businesswomen. Every day more and more people are trying to get somewhere in MENA. And it can be difficult but with a bit perseverance you’ll get somewhere. Whether it’s Tech or Banking or logistics any of the other sectors there will be a place for you.
If you want to see the Forbes article on 100 most powerful women in the Middle East, you can click here.