Yemeni woman Tawakkul Karman is the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and her debut in second place on CEO Middle East magazine’s ‘100 Most Powerful Arab Women’ list demonstrates the diversity of roles modern Arab women are now involved in.
Of the ten industry sectors included in CEO Middle East magazine’s 2012 list, culture and society - ranging from actresses to activists - is the dominant force and represents 43 percent of women this year. However, a look at the top five names on the list keenly demonstrates the diverse range of areas women in the Middle East now find themselves working in.
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi is an prominent player in the government sector; Yemeni Nobel Laureate Tawakkul Karman was honoured for her work as the female face of the Arab Spring movement; Lubna Olayan is head of one of the Middle East’s largest financial powerhouses; Saudi Arabia’s Princess Ameerah Al Taweel is one of the world’s most active philanthropists and, rounding out the top five, is Raja Easa Al Gurg, president of the Dubai Business Women’s Council and managing director of her family’s company.
Scanning the top 100 Arab women in the region, 13 percent work in banking and finance and are making a radical difference to Arab society. Lubna Olayan employs over 10,000 people across 50 divisions and she has help position her company, the Olayan Group, as one of the largest investors in the region’s stock markets. Her work has also paved the way for other female CEOs as she became the first woman to speak at a mixed conference in Saudi Arabia when she addressed the Jeddah Economic Forum in 2004.
Fatima Al Jaber manages assets of nearly US$5bn and her construction firm, Abu Dhabi-based Al Jaber Group, has built more than 5,500 villas across the UAE. In doing so, she has created employment for over 50,000 people and demonstrates why 13 percent of women on the list are employed in the construction and industry sector.
Dubai has long strived to establish itself as the main media hub in the region and steering that dream to reality is Dr Amina Al Rustamani, CEO of Tecom Business Parks. The media free zone operator currently counts 4,500 firms under its umbrella, which Al Rustamani aims to grow to 7,000 in ten years. With such a vision, it is almost certain that media will represent more than 12 percent of the rankings when 2022’s list is compiled.
Retail accounts for six percent of the women this year, while transport accounts for four, science three and two each for government, sport and IT and telecoms.
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