The 100 Most Powerful Arab Women 2015 in Science and Healthcare

Welcome to CEO Middle East’s fifth annual list of the world’s most powerful Arab women — our yearly look at the most important female influencers across the Arab world.
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12. (13) Dr Rana Dajani

\nSocial innovator Rana Dajani’s main job may be assistant professor and director of studies at the Hashemite University in Zarqa, but it is her bold literacy programme We Love Reading that really catches the attention.

\nThe founder and director of the initiative aims to create a library in every neighbourhood in her home country of Jordan, in order to foster a love of reading among Jordanian children. He work on this front began in 2006 at a community mosque where Dajani held weekly storytelling session with children aged four to 10. The programme has since trained almost 700 storytellers - all of them women - and has led to the creation of 300 libraries across the country, reaching out to more than 10,000 children.

\nThe model has spread to Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and other countries further afield such as Mexico and Uganda, and it doesn’t look like stopping any time soon.

\nOn the science side, Dajani’s list of titles and roles makes for lengthy reading. Her research focuses on genome-wide association studies concerning diabetes and cancer in ethnic populations in Jordan, and she has a wide array of certifications to back up her stellar credentials.

\nShe is also a consultant to the Higher Council for Science and Technology in Jordan, and has written about science and women in the Arab world, as well as sitting on the UN Women Civil Society Advisory Group in Jordan.

\nAnd this is just the tip of the iceberg. Who knows what extra accolades Dajani will have accrued in a year’s time?
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15. (11) Manahel Thabet
\nUAE (Yemen)

\nIf reports of Manahel Thabet’s IQ of 168 are accurate, she would be in the top 0.1 of people in the world – something that would come as little surprise given her incredible run of achievements.\nAt the age of 25 she earned her first PhD in financial engineering, magna cum laude, making her the youngest person to every attain the distinction. A PhD in quantum mechanics came later, as did numerous awards including a United National humanitarian award.

\nThe founder president of Smart Tips Consultants was named as Genius of the Year for Asia in 2013, and was chosen to be part of the World Genius Directory, an agency she now chairs.

\nThabet previously traded in the stock market, but withdrew her investments in 2007 after believing there would be a financial crisis. Indeed, Smart Tips was created to help those who had suffered from the crippling crisis.

\nAn active member of MENSA, Young Arab Leaders, and other groups and organisations, Synergy University also announced in 2014 that Thabet will be the Patron of the MBA Women’s Leadership Programme.
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16. (19) Hayat Sindi
\nInvestor, scientist, entrepreneur
\nSaudi Arabia

\nA constant trail-blazer, Hayat Sindi has long been hailed as one of the most innovative women in science across the Arab world.

\nBorn in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, her story is one of dogged perseverance and drive. As a young woman she convinced her family to allow her to travel alone to the UK in order to pursue higher education, despite not speaking any English.

\nMarked by a succession of accolades, Sindi’s career in diagnostics, biotechnology and inventing has been hailed not only in the Middle East but around the world. She became the first Saudi and female scientist to become a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for sciences, and was one of the first 30 women to be appointed to Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council – the formal advisory body to the King.

\nRecently awarded the Leadership in Civil Society prize by the Clinton Global Initiative, Sindi’s main focus is currently her fellowship programme, the i2 Institute, through which she aims to mentor and develop the next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs.
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20. (24) Hanan Al Kuwari
\nManaging director
\nHamad Medical Corporation

\nAs the head of Qatar’s largest public healthcare provider, Hanan Al Kuwari has one of the most important jobs for maintaining and improving the wellbeing of the country’s residents.

\nThe managing director of Hamad Medical Corporation, Al Kuwari manages eight specialised hospitals around Qatar, as well as running the national ambulance service and home healthcare services.

\nIn February HMC opened its latest facility – the Enaya Specialised Care Centre, which will provide medical attention to long-term patients, and there are plans to add to the number of hospitals under HMC’s umbrella.

\nAs well as her work with HMC, Al Kuwari is also a member of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, and the chairperson of the Qatar Biobank Board.

\nIn a recent interview with Arabian Business, she explained her basic philosophy which has helped her to succeed: “I’m an optimist, I always believe we can achieve whatever we put our minds to.”
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37. (44) Samia Al Amoudi
\nCancer specialist
\nSaudi Arabia

\nSince diagnosing herself with breast cancer in 2006, Al Amoudi has been a tireless campainger in bringing the issue to greater prominence.

\nThe obstetrician, gynaecologist and assistant professor at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah dedicated has herself to raising awareness of breast cancer, largely though a regular column in Al Madinah newspaper.

\nBy talking about her own experiences, Al Amoudi hopes to encourage other women to check themselves regularly for cancer and build more open dialogue.

\nThe author of 13 books  announced in January this year that she has suffered a recurrence of the disease, having been in remission for eight years. She said that she wanted the anouncement to be a “message of love” to other women in the hope they will get examined early.
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48. (41) Maryam Matar
\nUAE Genetic Diseases Association

\nMaryam Matar is chairwoman of the UAE Genetic Diseases Association and one of the most influential women in science today.

\nShe is also Deputy Chairperson of Dubai Cares, a board member of the Marriage Fund, Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation, Dubai Women Establishment, Damas International Limited and the Canadian University of Dubai.

\nHer notable achievements include launching initiatives including UAE Free of Thalassemia 2012, and the UAE Down’s Syndrome Association.
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52. Habiba Al Safar
\nAssistant professor of Biomedical Engineering

\nDr Habiba Al Safar’s work in identifying genetic and environmental risk factors associated with diabetes lander her a 2014 L’Oreal-UNESCO Fellowship Award for Women in Science in November last year.

\nAccording to Khalifa University, where Al Safar works as assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering, her area of interest is in constructing the genomic structures of individuals of Arab descent to identify genomic segments that are predisposed to disease.

\nHer research is the first genome-wide association study of the UAE Bedouin population.
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64 (39). Ayah Bdeir
\nCanada (Lebanon)

\nStill best known for her snap-together circuit board business littleBits, Ayah Bdeir is continually lauded as one of the most creative young minds to pay attention to.

\nHaving developed the first littleBits prototype in 2008, the business was launched in 2011, aiming to “put the power of electronics in the hands of everyone, and to break down complex technologies so that anyone can build, prototype and invent”. A TED fellow, and founder of Karaj - Beirut’s first non-profit lab for experimental arts, architecture and technology - Bdeir has also been a mentor on Stars of Science - the Middle East’s first reality show focusing on innovation.
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91 (73). Ismahane Elouafi
\nDirector general
\nInternational Centre for Biosaline Agriculture

\nDr Elouafi took up the position of ICBA Director General in 2012, and has more than 15 years experience in agricultural research.

\nICBA (International Centre of Biosaline Agriculture) aims to help poor farmers in placers where water is scarce, making it a vital lifeline for those working in various parts of the Arab world. The centre also aims to develop new technologies to allow saltwater to be used to irrigate agriculture. Previously a member of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Elouafi has received many international award - not least the National Reward Medal from His Majesty Mohamed VI, the King of Morocco.