The UAE’s minister of foreign trade, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, has been ranked as the most powerful Arab woman by CEO Middle East magazine for the second year running.
Previously minister for the economy and planning, UAE-born Sheikha was praised for her contribution to the Gulf state's flourishing trade industry and her key role in the country’s diversification programme.
The list, which is running for the second year, ranks Arab women according to the number of people whose lives they have touched and influenced.
Coming in at second place was Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman, who became internationally recognised after she claimed the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to improve human rights during the Arab Spring.
In third position was Lubna Olayan, CEO of Olayan Financing Company, who dropped one place from 2011 but continues to be seen as a key business leader and role model for Arab women throughout the region.
Speaking about the power and influence of Arab females, sociologist Mona Al Munajjed, ranked 37, said there had been obvious change in the last ten years, but the potential of professional Arab women remained largely untapped.
“Women’s lives in the GCC have improved tremendously during the past decades,” she said. “However, despite great strides in education and employment, a large gender gap remains in positions of status."
“Today, for the GCC countries to become dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economies they need to recognise and value women's talents and skills. GCC governments are making serious efforts to enhance the participation of women in decision-making positions.”
As a member of the ruling family of Sharjah, Sheikha Lubna was the first ever female to be appointed as a government minister in the UAE.
In her current post, the Emirati national is responsible for promoting trade ties with international partners - a vital part of the UAE’s diversification strategy.
In January, she met with US Secretary of state Hilary Clinton and is working towards signing off the US Middle East Free Trade Area by next year.
Aside from her ministerial duties, Sheikha Lubna sits on the board of directors for organisations such as the Dubai Chamber for Commerce and Industry, and has also launched her own perfume line.