The importance of women in our different communities cannot be overemphasized. The fact that more women are beginning to take on important roles in the different sectors shows how seriously the world has evolved. We’ve seen women assume the most important positions in different industries ranging from politics to entertainment, business to sports. Kamala Harris’ emergence as the vice president of the United States of America is just another highlight of how far women have come to ensure that they also take on important roles in society. Beyonce Knowles has won 28 Grammy awards in her career that is still far from finished, only behind Georg Solti. Women are already holding executive roles in companies and are heading several businesses all across the globe. They cannot be stopped.
Middle Eastern women have not been an exception in the global case. As a matter of fact, in last year’s edition of Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women in the world, two Arab women featured on the list. Raja Easa Al Gurg from the United Arab Emirates, was the highest-rated Middle Eastern woman on the list, taking the 89th spot while Rania Nashar from Saudi Arabia wasn’t too far behind with spot number 99. These women have been doing very well for themselves in their respective careers.
It has become quite obvious how much these women are contributing to the general growth of the Gulf region and their achievements have been widely acknowledged by several important media outlets who continues to show support by making sure they get the recognition they deserve as much as their male counterparts. The more recognition we think they get, the more motivated they will be to continue to be the best they can be.
Here’s a list of the top 10 most powerful Arab women in the world in 2021.
1. Sarah Al Amiri
Sarah Al Amiri tops this list with her great works and historic achievements in the Arab region. She currently serves as the UAE’s Minister of State for Advanced Technology and chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency which is the fifth to ever reach Mars’ orbit. Al Amiri took the forefront in the UAE’s Hope Probe which successfully entered into the Mars orbit on February 9, 2021. This was a celebration of the Arab region’s abilities and aspirations, and this great achievement earned her a spot in the Time100 Next 2021 list. Sarah Al Amiri overseeing the UAE Space Agency’s mandate of guiding the space sector and its future missions, will greatly influence the country and region’s technological developments on Earth and beyond.
2. Rania Nashar
Being the first female CEO of Samba Financial Group, a commercial bank in Saudi Arabia, Rania Nashar is widely regarded as one of the most powerful women in the world as evidently seen in Forbes’ list of The World’s Most Powerful Women 2020 ranking. She became the CEO at a time when Saudi Arabia is beginning to implement reforms that will promote gender equality as part of their Vision 2030. Before becoming the CEO of the group, she had previously served as a board member. Her wealth of experience in the banking sector makes her a huge asset to any industry. Nashar led the bank for nearly four years, where it earned around $2 billion in total operating income in the first nine months of 2020. Last year, it was announced that the bank would merge with the National Commercial Bank to create a new bank worth $223 billion in assets. Nashar stepped down from her role as CEO from January 31, 2021, and she now serves as the Senior Advisor to the Governor of Saudi’s Public Investment Fund, Yasir Al-Rumayyan. Rania Nashar is also a board member of the Saudi Stock Exchange, Tadawul.
3. Reem Al Hashimy
Reem Al Hashimi is the UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of the Expo 2020 Dubai. She became the Minister of State in the Cabinet of United Arab Emirates in February 2008. In addition to the aforementioned, Hashimy also chairs the UAE National Committee on Sustainable Development Goals and philanthropic association Dubai Cares.
4. Loubna Olayan
Loubna Olayan is one of the region’s most influential businesswomen and the first Saudi female board member of the Saudi Hollandi Bank. She was the CEO of Olayan Financing Company, a family company, for 33 years before stepping down in 2019. She has focused on other ventures and in 2019, she was appointed as the chairperson of the Saudi British Bank (SABB), the third-largest bank in Saudi Arabia. Her family’s group holds the second-largest shares in SABB; up to 18% which is worth about $3 billion USD. Olayan presently chairs its executive committee and the Olayan Saudi Holding Company, and she also serves as a board member of Schlumberger. She is a strong propagator for women empowerment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
5. Hana Al Rostamani
Hana Al Rostamani is the Group CEO of First Abu Dhabi Bank, the GCC’s second biggest lender and the UAE’s largest bank. Al Rostamani is the bank’s first female CEO and she has over 22 years of experience in the field of banking and financial services. She is a board member of the AW Rostamani Group, chairperson of FAB Private Bank Suisse, and a member of MasterCard Advisory.
6. Sarah Al-Suhaimi
Sarah Al-Suhaimi heads the largest stock exchange in the Middle East, Tadawul. She’s been the chairperson since 2017, and she is the first woman to ever hold the role. In 2014, Sarah Al-Suhaimi was also appointed as the CEO of NCB Capital where she has restructured the company’s most vital sectors; product development and technological advances. She’s also popular for leading listing of Saudi Aramco at a base value of $1.9 trillion USD.
7. Raja Easa Al Gurg
Raja Easa Al Gurg is an Emirati woman and the director of Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, one of the biggest groups of companies in the Middle East. According to reports, the group serves as a parent company to 27 other companies, some of which are in construction, retail and metal foundry among many others. Aside from her roles as managing director and vice-chairperson of Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, she’s also the president of the Dubai Business Women Council. The council is tasked with improving female leadership in the United Arab Emirates. She was the first woman from the United Arab Emirates to be on the board of HSBC Bank Middle East Limited. She’s also the current new Deputy Chairperson of the National Bank of Fujairah, a role she took over from her father.
8. Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is one of the most influential personalities in the global art scene. She serves as the chairperson of Qatar Museums, a role in which she reportedly has an annual budget of $1bn to spend. She has played significant roles in bringing some of the world’s leading artists to the region through exhibitions and artwork purchases. In addition to that, Sheikha Mayassa serves as the chairperson of Doha Film Institute – which she established to boost appreciation, financing and education of films in Qatar, as well as Reach Out to Asia (ROTA) an NGO focused on education.
9. Reema bint Bandar Al Saud
Reema bint Bandar Al Saud is a member of House of Saud and the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States. She is well-known for using her influential voice to embolden women in Saudi Arabia and globally, especially in sport through her role in the International Olympic Committee to which she was appointed as a member in July 2020. Princess Reema also serves as the chairperson of the Saudi Federation for Mass Participation and a board member of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee. She has been instrumental in changing the narrative about female empowerment in the kingdom. She is also the founder Alf Khair, a social enterprise founded in 2013 which aims to improve the professional capital of Saudi women.
10. Nayla Hayek
Nayla Hayek is the CEO of luxury jewelers Harry Winston, and the daughter of Lebanese-born Nicolas George Hayek, the late co-founder of the Swatch Group. In 1995, she joined its board before becoming its chairwoman in 2010. Swatch introduced a collection of timepieces cased in materials sourced from nature, last year, making it the first time a watchmaker succeeded in replacing all conventional components by bio-sourced materials in a series production environment. Nayla Hayek became CEO of Harry Winston in 2013 a few months after Swatch Group acquired the company, which bought the world’s largest flawless blue diamond the Winston Blue in 2014 for $23.8m. Hayek is also a horse breeding expert who owns 60 Arabian horses.