Forbes Middle East reveals the region’s 200 most powerful women

4104Forbes Middle East has unveiled its coveted 2014 ranking of The 200 Most Powerful Arab Women. Published in the September issue of the renowned business publication, this year’s impressive lineup includes inspirational and accomplished women from family business and government, as well as top C-level executives in the corporate sphere. Of the 200 Most Powerful Arab Women ranking, Egypt dominates with 29 entries. The largest economy in the region—Saudi Arabia—has 27, followed closely by the UAE, with 26 entries. A total of 85 women make the 200 Most Powerful Arab Women—Family Business ranking as Arab women prove their acumen across the business world, whether it involves taking the reins of a family firm or establishing their own enterprise from scratch. Family businesses which are publicly listed have been excluded from this ranking. Overall, 16 entries are in the diversified sector followed by 15 in consultancy and 12 in the retail sector.

Reflecting its entrepreneurial spirit, the UAE has the highest number of entries overall with 15 Emirati businesswomen, and Raja Easa Al Gurg, Managing Director of UAE-based Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group LLC, topping the list. Saudi Arabia follows with 12 entries; Lubna Olayan, CEO of Olayan Financing Company, is the leading Saudi woman in the section, and second overall. The 200 Most Powerful Arab Women—Government ranking includes 59 women in ministries and legislative councils across the region. Last year, Saudi Arabia introduced female members to its Shoura Council – the Kingdom’s formal advisory body. This is reflected in the ranking with nine of the women in government hailing from Saudi Arabia. Algeria, with seven entries finished second, followed by Jordan, Morocco and Oman, with six entries each. Of the women in government, 12 are concerned with social affairs and 11 with legislation, while the education and tourism sectors boast six entries each. Commerce, labor and transport, meanwhile, are represented by just one entry each, with female presence absent in vital ministries such are economy, trade and finance. The 200 Most Powerful Arab Women – Executive Management ranking features 56 women from both public and private companies. Women from Egypt top this ranking with 14 entries, followed by Kuwait – which boasted four of the top ten positions – with 10 entries. Lebanon, UAE and KSA follow with six.

Shaikha K. Al-Bahar, Deputy Group CEO of National Bank of Kuwait, ranks first with Nayla Hayek of luxury watch maker, Swatch, coming in second. Overall, this list features 25 entries in the banking and financial sector, seven entries in petrochemicals and five entries from the diversified sector, highlighting the range of talents and business interests these women possess. For the second consecutive year, Forbes Middle East shines the spotlight on the leading ladies making fundamental contributions to the business and political landscapes of an ever-evolving Arab world. Motivation for undertaking this In-depth exercise stems from the reality that Arab women today are not only inspiring future generations of aspiring females, but driving the advancement of national economies and political agendas across the region. Reflecting a steady rise in female representation in national politics, a total of 59 women in government positions also feature prominently, accounting for 29% of total entries. The UAE’s Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi ranks first, followed by Oman’s Dr. Rawya Al-Busaidi and Hind Subaih Al-Subaih from Kuwait.

The move to include women in Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council also paves the way for strong Saudi representation in this sector. For the first time, this year’s Forbes Middle East ranking has been extended to include accomplished women who occupy senior positions in the corporate world. The 56 women featured in this executive management category have risen through the ranks to assume C-level, board, chair and presidential roles within their respective organizations, and account for 28% of the list. Egypt tops this section with 14 entries, but it is Kuwait’s Shaikha K. Al-Bahar, Deputy Group CEO of National Bank of Kuwait, who sits in pole position. Lebanon’s Nayla Hayek of luxury watchmaker, Swatch, comes in second with Emirati, Salma Ali Saif Bin Hareb, taking third place. In a context of female accomplishment, Khuloud Al Omian, Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Middle East provides Insight into the transformational role of women in the region and the motivations driving The 200 Most Powerful Arab Women ranking: “Not just regionally, but worldwide, there is still much to be done to engineer a level playing field between the sexes, but by showcasing the achievements and unlimited potential of Arab women, we are one step closer to balancing the equation. Female workforce participation stands at an estimate of just 24% in the Middle East, but the region’s women are proving their worth and it is down to the region’s collective efforts to ensure that Arab women continue to play a formative role In shaping the future, whether in the government, business or social realms.

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