Forbes Middle East released their annual list of the 100 most powerful businesswomen in the region, including women from 23 different nationalities who are all leaving their distinct marks across a multitude of industries. They are paving the way for other women, working hard to dismantle gender expectations and providing undeniable results in highly competitive markets.
The criterion for the ranks are: the size of the businesses that these women lead, their accomplishments from 2019, the initiatives they champion and their overall work experience.
They are pioneers for their generation. 79 out of the 100 women on Forbes’ Power Businesswomen in the Middle East 2020 are considered self-made, most of them in male-dominated fields.
Within the classification, there are both female nationals and expatriates. Within the top 10, the countries represented are Saudi Arabia, dominating with three women in the top 5, the United Arab Emirates, India; Germany, Morocco, Bahrain and Kuwait.
Let’s take a look at the top tier of the ranking:
1. Easa Al Gurg (Emirati)
Managing Director of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group
-Al Gurg is the Managing Director of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, a major Middle Eastern conglomerate with 27 companies ranging from retail to building and construction.
-She is the president of the Dubai Business Women Council, working to boost female entrepreneurship in the Emirates and a board member of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dubai Women’s Association and HSBC Middle East.
“Obstacles are always a stepping stone to success. Surmounting an obstacle is a test of character. You will be surprised to realize how far you can go from the point you thought was the end.” Raja Easa Al Gurg
2 .Renuka Jagtiani (Indian)
CEO of the Landmark Group
– Jagtiani is the chairwoman and CEO of the Landmark Group: a multinational retail and hospitality conglomerate based in Dubai
-She oversees more than 50,000 employees and over 2,300 outlets across 22 countries.
“When the government and private sector join hands together, we can be more powerful to drive change for the future” Renuka Jagtiani
3. Rania Nashar (Saudi)
CEO of Samba Financial group
-The first female CEO of a listed Saudi commercial bank, leading the country’s fourth-largest bank since 2017.
-Nashar previously served as a board member for Samba’s global markets subsidiary and has over 20 years of experience in the commercial banking sector.
“There is no limit to your dreams and becoming a CEO is a career option not only limited to men” Rania Nashar.
4. Sarah Al Suhaimi (Saudi)
Chairperson of Tadawul
-Al Suhaimi is the chairperson of Tadawul, the Middle East’s largest stock exchange.
-She is also the CEO of NCB Capital since March 2014 and a member of the company’s Board of Directors.
-She obtained her diplomas from Harvard University after the King Saud University.
5. Lubna Olayan (Saudi)
Chairperson of the Saudi British Bank
-As of June 2019 she became the chairperson of the third largest bank in the Kingdom, the Saudi British Bank (SABB) after 33 years as CEO of the Olayan Financing Company (OFC), the second largest shareholder in SABB.
-Olayan was the first Saudi woman to serve on the board of a publicly-traded company in 2004 for the Saudi Hollandi bank.
“The more challenges you face in life, the more of life you experience. This lived experience gives one the influence to impact others’ lives.” Lubna Olayan
6.Heike Harmgart (German)
Managing Director for the Southern & Eastern Mediterranean Region at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
-Harmgart is the Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), with the cumulative investment of over $11.1 billion.
-She is responsible for the formulation and delivery of EBRD’s strategy in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, managing a team of 150 employees.
7. Nezha Hayat (Moroccan)
CEO of the Morocco’s Capital Market Authority
-President of Morocco’s Capital Markets Authority since 2016.
-Hayat is a strong advocate of women’s rights, and is a founding members and president of Club des Femmes Administrateurs d‘entreprises in Morocco (CFA Maroc): a non-profit organization that promotes the participation of women on the boards of directors of public and private companies.
8. Wadha Ahmed Al-Khateeb (Kuwaiti)
Deputy CEO of the Kuwait National Petroleum Company
-As deputy CEO of the Kuwait National Petroleum Company, she is in charge of the Mina Refinery, which refines a third of the company’s oil.
-Al-Khateeb is the first woman to head the “Gas Processors Association” GCC Chapter and is also the chairperson for the Kuwait Paraxylene Production Company since May 2019.
9. Mona Yousuf Almoayyed (Bahraini)
Managing Director of Y.K. Almoayyed & Sons
-Almoayyed is the Managing Director of Y.K. Almoayyed & Sons— with a wide range of businesses from trading, contracting, telecom services to property development, and over 2,000 employees.
-Shows support for many non-profits, including the Migrant Workers Protection Society, the Bahrain Business Women’s Society, Al Muntada and the MWPS Shelter for Domestic Abuse.
“When you are a woman, nothing comes easy in business. My advice to women is to not give up and to continue working hard until their boss recognizes them.” Mona Almoayyed
10. Aisha Bin Bishr (United Arab Emirates)
Director General of Smart Dubai
-Bin Bishr is the Director General of the Smart Dubai Office— the government entity entrusted with Dubai’s city-wide smart transformation
-Presides as the chairperson of the Sustainable Development Goals 11 Global Council.
-She is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Councils, and The Fourth Industrial Revolution’s Smart Cities Readiness Index Team.
“Success will not come without a strong belief in your dream. We need to have a dream. We need to have a purpose. We need to open our minds to accept the challenges that will come with any success story.”