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RIYADH: Women are increasingly making a name for themselves on corporate boards across the Arab world as reforms and empowerment initiatives offer new opportunities. Their future successes will be built on the work of the pioneering Arab women who laid the foundations for the next generation of female entrepreneurs in the region. Here we profile nine of them.
Sarah Al Suhaimi
Chairman of the Saudi Arabian Stock Exchange
Al-Suhaimi has been the head of the Saudi Arabian Stock Exchange, also known as Tadawul, since February 2017. The first Saudi woman to hold the position at the Middle East’s largest stock exchange, she was reappointed Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2020.
Additionally, she has been the CEO and board member of National Commercial Bank since March 2014. In April 2021, NBC merged with banking company Samba and was renamed Saudi National Bank.
Al-Suhaimi served as vice-chairman of the Capital Market Authority’s board advisory committee between 2013 and 2015, and before that, chief investment officer at Jadwa Investment.
She was named one of Bloomberg Businessweek’s “50 People to Watch” in 2017.
Randa Mohamed Sadik
Arab Bank CEO
Arab Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the Middle East, was the first private sector company of its kind in the Arab world when it was founded in 1930 in Jerusalem, Mandatory Palestine. Its headquarters are now in Amman, Jordan, and it has more than 600 branches on five continents.
Sadik, a Jordanian national, served for more than 10 years as deputy managing director of Arab Bank before becoming managing director last year.
Previously, she worked at the National Bank of Kuwait for 24 years, including as Group Managing Director of the International Banking Group.
Areej Mohsin Haider Darwish
President of the Automotive, Construction, Equipment and Renewable Energies cluster of Mohsin Haider Darwish
Mohsin Haider Darwish, a renowned and leading business house in the Middle East, has earned a spot on Forbes 2020 list of Top 100 Arab Family Businesses in the Middle East. He has a diverse business presence, with a variety of interests in trade, contracts and projects. He has brought a number of international brands to Oman including Land Rover, Jaguar, McLaren, Volvo, MG, Ford, Ashok Leyland, Huawei, Hitachi, KDK and DAIKIN.
Darwish graduated from Sultan Qaboos University with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. His career began with a position at Petroleum Development Oman. She joined MHD, the family business, in 1994 and with the guidance, support and motivation of her father, she rose through the ranks to become President of its Automotive, Construction, Equipment and Renewable Energy operations cluster.
Sheikha Hanadi Nasser Bin Khaled Al-Thani
Founder of Amwal and Al-Waab City
Sheikha Hanadi started her career as an assistant lecturer in economics at Qatar University. In 1998, she founded the Qatar Ladies Investment Company, known as Amwal, the first investment company to be licensed by the Central Bank of Qatar to conduct investment banking and investment management activities. assets and wealth in the country.
In 2005, she founded Al-Waab City, an urban community development comprising over 1.2 million square meters of mixed-use amenities. She is also the founding president of the car dealership Q-Auto.
Sheikha Hanadi is the president of the education and training organization INJAZ Qatar and a board member of INJAZ Al-Arab. She is a member of the board of directors of Planet Finance for the Middle East and of the advisory board of the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
She has been on Arabian Business magazine’s list of most influential Arabs for several consecutive years and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2005.
Raja Easa Al-Gurg
Group Managing Director and Easa Group Vice President Saleh Al-Gurg
United Arab Emirates
Known for her leadership of the family business, a conglomerate of more than 20 companies in a number of sectors including retail, construction, industry and real estate, Al-Gurg is also a CEO. business in its own right, carving out a niche through it. support for Arab women entrepreneurs. She is the President of the Dubai Business Women Council and a board member of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
She is Vice-Chairman of the National Bank of Fujairah, sits on the advisory board of Coutts Bank, the wealth management division of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, and on the board of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al- Maktum. Global initiatives.
In 2020, Al-Gurg received the Legion of Honor, Chevalier, from French President Emmanuel Macron, for strengthening ties between France and the United Arab Emirates.
She ranked first on Forbes’ 2020 list of 100 Powerful Businesswomen in the Middle East, second on its 2019 list of Women Running Family Businesses and 89th on its 2020 list of 100 Most Powerful Women. in the world.
Founding Partner and Chairman of Zulficar and Partners and EFG Hermes
In addition to her position at leading Egyptian law firm Zulficar and Partners, Zulficar has served as chairwoman of financial services company EFG Hermes Holding since 2008 and chairwoman of the Egyptian Microfinance Federation since 2015.
A lawyer for more than 35 years, she specializes in major restructuring and project financing. International legal directories regularly rank her as an expert in the fields of banking, finance and mergers and acquisitions.
A defender of human rights and women’s rights since 1985, Zulficar has led several campaigns that have resulted in important legal reforms. She is currently working on a law on equal opportunities and non-discrimination.
She was an Expert Member of the Board of the Central Bank of Egypt (2003-2011); Deputy Chairman of the Constitutional Committee of the 2014 Constitution; Vice-Chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council Advisory Committee (2008-2013); president of the Association for the Improvement of Women’s Health in Cairo; and Chair of the World Bank’s External Gender Advisory Group in Washington DC (2000–2006).
Co-founder and CEO of the Hygienic Articles Company
Entrepreneur Mezni – co-founder and CEO of the Hygiene Goods Company, which makes diapers, tissues and other hygiene products – has weathered the storm of the Arab Spring over the past decade and has guided his business through the worst.
She founded SAH in 1995 after leaving her position as vice-president of a Tunisian bank. She saw an opportunity in the hygiene products industry and, at the suggestion of a colleague, applied for a government program that provided her with cheap land and tax breaks in a poor neighborhood outside from Tunis. His business was born.
SAH Group is now present in 21 African countries and employs 4,000 people in nine production sites.
Chairman and CEO of the Moroccan Capital Market Authority
Hayat has served as the CEO of Morocco’s Capital Market Authority since 2016. She is responsible for the country’s non-banking capital markets, including the stock exchange and brokerage firms. She is also Chair of the Africa/Middle East Regional Committee of the International Organization of Securities Commissions.
A defender of women’s rights, she is a founding member and president of the Club of Women Business Administrators, a non-profit organization that promotes good governance and diversity on the boards of directors of public and private companies.
Her career began in Spain, where from 1985 to 1988 she worked in the international division of Banco Atlantico, responsible for global risks and restructured debt.
In 1999, she was elected president of the Association of Stockbrokers of Morocco, for two terms. She co-founded the Association des Femmes Chefs d’Entreprises du Maroc, an association for women entrepreneurs, in 2000, and was named a Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in 2001.
CEO and Founder of Mumzworld
Ataya is the CEO of Mumzworld, a leading online store for baby products in the Middle East, which she founded in 2011. In 2014 and 2015, she was listed among the 100 Most Powerful Arab Women by Arabian Business.
While raising her three children, she spotted a gap in the market when she struggled to find support for mothers who needed advice and help with product purchasing decisions. for their children. She decided to make it her mission to empower mothers and make a difference in the community.
To develop her skills, she landed a job at Procter and Gamble working on leading soap brands and later at Johnson and Johnson managing a large portfolio of leading global brands including Neutrogena and Clean & Clear. Later, she became a co-founding member of the job search site Bayt.com.