By Anil Bhoyrul
Reem Asaad is highest new entry in Power 500, one of 105 women on list
The Saudi women who campaigned for women to work in lingerie shops in the Kingdom has been voted the world’s third most influential Arab, in the 2012 list of the world’s most powerful Arabs published by Arabian Business on Sunday.
Reem Asaad entered the Power 500 list as the highest ranked women and the highest new entry. It was four years ago when she first launched a campaign calling for better employment opportunities for women and improved consumer rights. The 'Lingerie Campaign' gained international recognition stirring many underlying issues about women in Saudi Arabia. She argued that women should be allowed to work in lingerie shops in the Kingdom. Last July, her campaign paid off when the Saudi Labour Ministry banned men from working in lingerie shops after a directive from King Abdullah – in an instant, creating 44,000 jobs for women.
According to the law, all Saudi-based lingerie stores must now only employ females as sales assistants, while owners of women’s cosmetics and accessories shops have until June 27 to phase out their male staff. The second stage of the law being implemented could see another 30,000 jobs created for Saudi women.
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed topped the Arabian Business Power List for the eighth successive year.
Emirates Airline chairman Sheikh Ahmed was ranked second. Emaar chairman Mohamed Alabbar was fourth on the list, with the Libyan activist Mohammed Nabbous in fifth place. Nabbous was the founder of Libya Al Hurra TV in Benghazi, the first independent broadcast news organisation since Gaddafi took power in Libya. The 28-year old was killed last year by Pro-Gaddafi forces.
“Since his death, many experts in Libya and the west have credited Nabbous for his pivotal role in bringing the world’s attention to the killings in his native country. Without him, it is debatable whether the western powers would have intervened in the conflict,” said the Arabian Business team.
The 2012 Power 500 contains a record 127 new entries, and also features 105 women, the highest ever number. The UAE has the highest number of entries with 96 on the list, followed by Saudi Arabia with 62 and 45 from the US. In total, Arabs living in 37 different countries are featured on the list.
When it comes to country of origin, Lebanon contributes the most with 85 entries, followed by 67 from Saudi Arabia and 58 from Egypt.
Ed Attwood, Editor of Arabian Business, said: “What we have published today is the most comprehensive guide every to Arab influence all across the world. Our researchers have looked at the work of Arabs in every continent and every country across the globe, and covered every sector from business and finance to media, sports and science. It is clear from this list that Arab success and influence across the world has never been more significant than it is today.”