100 most powerful Arab women 2012
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi
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Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi

Industry: Government

Company: UAE Minister of Foreign Trade

Designation: Minister of Foreign Trade

Country: UAE

Is it tough at the top? Ask Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi. For the
second year running, the UAE’s first female minister tops our women’s power
list. And it’s not just any ministerial position; Sheikha Lubna’s brief
involves promoting greater trade ties with international partners, which is a
vital part of the UAE’s diversification strategy.

The Emirati national’s background lies in IT; she won
plaudits for developing a system that slashed cargo turnaround times at Dubai airport, and in 2000 founded Tejari, the Middle East’s first business-to-business online
marketplace. The firm, which is now one of Dubai World’s most successful units,
has franchises across the Middle East and was initially funded by HH Sheikh
Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai,
and prime minister of the UAE. Sheikha Lubna was appointed to her first
ministerial post in November 2004 – becoming Minister of Economy and Planning,
before taking the Minister of Foreign Trade brief afterwards.

In
January, Sheikha Lubna met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to
discuss enhanced trade ties. The Gulf country is already the largest export
market for US goods in the Middle East. The
minister is also currently working hard to sign off the US Middle East Free
Trade Area by next year. But amidst her whirlwind tours around the world,
Sheikha Lubna has still managed to retain her own business interests, which
have included setting up a perfume line. The minister also sits on the board of
directors at the Dubai Chamber for Commerce and Industry, and is on the board
at the National US Arab Chamber of Commerce.