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Five Arab women not on Forbes’s list of world’s top 5 powerful females

November 8, 2017 5:52 pm

Today, women are occupying some of the highest positions that any person can hope to hold. If Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 US presidential elections, unprecedented power would have been handed down to a woman and history would have been rewritten.

That’s not to say that the obstacles facing women are not as challenging today as they were in the past, with the current sexual harassment epidemic hitting the globe, serving as a reminder of just that.

Intelligence, perseverance and mental toughness played a significant role in the rise of some mighty women to top echelons of business and society. Who might these be?

Read: UAE company beats 1,999 global enterprises to be crowned No. 1

Read: These 5 inspiring GCC women are breaking gender stereotypes

Forbes’ top 5

German Chancellor Angela Merkel topped, for the seventh consecutive year, the list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, as per Forbes.

Angela Merkel, currently the longest-serving leader in the European Union, won a fourth term as German chancellor in September this year.

Merkel was followed by U.K. Prime Minister, Theresa May, who is leading her country through Brexit and was the surprise choice to replace David Cameron.

May is followed by Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, donating $4.6 billion in August 2017, then Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, and in the fifth position General Motors CEO, Mary Barra, a revved up woman heading a male dominated auto industry giant.

Read: How Saudi women are driving business forward

Our picks

No Arab woman made it to the Forbes’s top five list, but this region is home to very successful women representing different areas from politics, to business, education and more.

AMEinfo picked five powerful Arab women who have left their mark on business and societies in the region.

1- Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi serves as the UAE’s Minister of State for Tolerance, a position to which she was appointed in February 2016, as part of the new cabinet reshuffle. Previous to her current role, she was named in 2004 as Minister of Economy and was the first woman in the United Arab Emirates to hold a ministerial position. In 2008, she carried her role as Minister of Foreign Trade and was tasked from 2013 to 2016 as Minister of International Cooperation and Development. A philanthropist, Al Qasimi sits on the board of the Dubai Autism Center and volunteers with the society “Friends of Cancer Patients.”

2- Lubna Olayan is a businesswoman and philanthropist. She is the CEO and Deputy Chairperson of Olayan Financing Company (OFC), the holding entity for Olayan Group’s operations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. Widely considered to be one of the most influential businesswomen in the Middle East and the Arab World, she oversees more than 40 companies under family finance business. She became the first woman ever to be elected to the board of a Saudi company in 2004: the Saudi Hollandi Bank.

3- Hala Gorani is one of CNN’s most experienced international journalists. She currently anchors “The World Right Now with Hala Gorani” and has reported from every country in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Jordan. The American-born Syrian Journalist has been named one of the most powerful women by Forbes Woman Middle East, as well as a top 100 most powerful Arab women by Arabian Business Magazine. In 2010, Gorani covered the devastating earthquake in Haiti, for which CNN’s coverage was recognized with a Golden Nymph award – one of the highest honours in international journalism.

4- Randa El Assaad is the CEO of Arif & Bintoak, an architectural and engineering firm founded in 1975 in anticipation of the enormous growth in demand for architects in the UAE, which still continues today. She has successfully delivered multi-million dollar projects and led some of the firm’s most prestigious jobs.

5- Nezha Hayat is the Chairperson and CEO of Morocco’s Capital Market Authority in 2016. Hayat became the first woman ever on a management board of a bank in Morocco, when she worked at Societé Générale in Casablanca. After graduating from ESSEC in 1984, Hayat started her career in Spain, where she worked in various management positions before moving back to her home country, Morocco, in 1993.




By Dana Halawi
Senior Journalist
Dana Halawi has over seven years of experience in Journalism with articles published in multiple magazines and a newspaper in Lebanon. She specialized in Banking and Finance at the Lebanese American University and has a Master’s degree in International Affairs.