100 most powerful Arab women 2013
Thu 28 Feb 2013 12:58 PM
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi

Industry: Government

Company: Ministry of Foreign Trade

Designation: UAE Minister of Foreign Trade

Country: UAE

Occupation: UAE Minister of Foreign Trade

For the third year running, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi – the UAE’s first female minister - has made it to the top of our women’s power list.  Given that her job as Minister for Foreign Trade involves promoting greater ties with the UAE’s international partners – a vital plank of the country’s economy – perhaps that’s no surprise. In 2012, non-oil foreign trade rose by 15 percent to $980bn and under Sheikha Lubna’s management, the number is projected to easily top $1 trillion in 2013.

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.

The minister is currently working hard to sign off the US Middle East Free Trade Area. 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.