2013's most powerful Indian women in the GCC

Arabian Business presents the most influential women in the region's Indian expat community
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Nicole Larsen, owner and managing director, Diva Modelling and Events --- A Harvard Business School graduate, Nicole is right at the heart of the Dubai glamour scene, having founded the now hugely successfully Diva Modelling agency. It has become one of the largest in the country for booking models, but under her leadership the company has grown rapidly – just about anything from equipment hire to providing extras for movies, organizing events and putting on wedding parties. You want fun, you want glamour – Nicole is the woman to call.
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Sara Belhasa, v ice chairperson, Belhasa Group --- From a simple childhood in Mumbai to living a privileged life in the upper echelons of Arab society, Sarah Belhasa’s journey has always been full of adventure. These days, Belhasa is one of Dubai’s most fashionable faces. She has been instrumental in the launch of Dubai Fashion Week. Besides serving as an adviser to a number of local fashion bodies, her Studio 8 store, which opened two years ago, has introduced some of the most high-profile Asian and Arab designers to the UAE. Last year, Belhasa picked up the Businesswoman of the Year prize at the Arabian Business Indian CEO Awards.
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Jayshree Gupta, senior advisor, DLA Piper --- Founder and head of Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS) Dubai Internet City office, Jayshree Gupta joined DLA Piper after twelve years at DWS as partner. She is recognized as one of the rising stars of the region. In September 2008 she was appointed to the Regulatory Appeals Committee (RAC) of the DFSA and has been reappointed in 2011 to serve on it for another three-year term.
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Ayesha Depala, fashion designer --- When Bollywood actress Kajol needed a dress to wear for her red-carpet appearance at last year’s Vogue Beauty Awards in Mumbai in August, the notoriously choosey starlet picked Dubai-based designer Ayesha Depala to create a dress for her. “I am so excited to be dressing Kajol for the Vogue Awards. She is an Indian cinema icon, and one of the most brilliant actresses of our time,” Depala said in a statement. The 35-year-old designer launched her collection in 2002 and has also designed creations for the likes of Naomi Watts, Yasmin Le Bon and Sonam Kapoor. Earlier last year, she announced plans to expand her range and also focus on shoes and bags. She brought her designs to a whole new audience this year when she exhibited at Muscat Fashion Week. Depala is also in talks with buyers from all over the Gulf. She played a prominent part in the Fashion Forward event, which took place in April.
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Poonam Bhojani, CEO, Innoventures Education --- Poonam Bhojani is fast becoming known as the boss of one of the best schools in Dubai – a huge achievement given what a difficult market it is to break into, with experts heaping praise on her Raffles School. She is an Economics Honours graduate with an MBA from India’s premier business school, the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. Prior to envisioning and co-founding Dubai International Academy, Poonam has had over well over sixteen years of experience working on leading edge technology solutions with a range of organisations across India, Hong Kong, the US, Belgium and the UAE.
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Gulshan Kavarana, founder, Special Families Support Group --- One of the winners of last year’s Most Inspiring Indians awards, and really no surprise at that. Gulshan Kavarana is one of the most popular women in Dubai’s Indian community. Heading the Special Families Support (SFS) Group, founded in 1999, it is her job to help families cope with special needs children and the challenges of family life by acting as an inspiration, coach and motivator to those parents. SFS is now regarded as the biggest NGO in the country. A mother of two based in Dubai, she has also gone to great lengths to assist the children themselves who have special needs, after her own daughter was diagnosed with autism. More than 100 families across the UAE now benefit from her help.
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Malini Gulrajani, founder, 1x1 Art Gallery --- Malini Gulrajani founded the Dubai-based 1x1 Art Gallery five years ago and has since gone on to establish the gallery as a hub of Indian contemporary art in the region. The gallery has a consistently steady calendar of cutting-edge exhibitions and has showcased some of the foremost names in India’s art scene, with the likes of Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu, NN Rimzon, Vivek Vilasini and painter Chittrovanu Mazumdar, all showing there.
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Shefali Munshi, founder, Unimode Event PR and Consulting --- A big player in the glamour industry, her company is behind the Bollywood IIFA Weekend & Awards event. Just 39 years old, she has taken the brand to several countries including the UK, Thailand, Macau and Sri Lanka. Many experts are tipping her for great things thanks to her business skills — we tip her to climb high up the list in the coming years.
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Padma Coram, managing partner, Talent Brokers --- It was back in 1996 when she quit her job at Channel V to join her husband Richard at the Talent Brokers. She has helped it become one of the UAE’s best known events and entertainment companies. She has also launched a new lifestyle company Joyful Living. This is Padma Coram’s first time on the list — watch out for a big rise next year.
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