Dubai, Asharq Al-Awsat- Forbes Arabia unveiled the first-ever listing of the 50 Most Powerful Businesswomen in the Arab world today.
Topping the list is Saudi businesswoman Lubna S. Olayan, a principal of The Olayan Group, CEO of Olayan Financing Company and non-executive director of numerous companies. A major investor in the Saudi economy, Olayan Financing is consistently ranked in the top echelon of Saudi and Gulf companies.
Ms. Olayan is also active in the World Economic Forum, serving on its Arab Business Council and Women’s Leadership Initiative. She is also a trustee of the Arab Thought Foundation.
The listing, a progression from Forbes Arabia’s list of Top 50 Leading Arab Women published in December 2004, is intended to identify the key women decision-makers and risk takers in the business fraternity of the Arab region, the women who are single-handedly responsible for advancing their organizations by promoting innovative, cutting-edge ideas and paving the way for future generations of women in the Arab countries.
“Part of our task as Forbes Arabia is to translate the concept of Forbes to the region, to recognize and promote successful business experiences in the region,” said Dr. Sulaiman al-Hattlan, Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Arabia. “Businesswomen in the region have been actively improving their situation, and there are many qualified and competent businesswomen contributing to the success of their economies, some in very difficult environments. This is our acknowledgement of their work.”
In second place on the list is Maha K. Al Ghunaim, vice chairman and managing director of Middle East investment bank Global Investment House. A prominent figure in the Arab banking world, the Kuwaiti businesswoman was named one of the most influential personalities of the Arab world.
In third, fourth and fifth place respectively are Sheikha Al Bahar, Group General Manager of Corporate Banking for the National Bank of Kuwait; UAE businesswoman Raja Al Gurg, head of the Easa Al Gurg Group of Companies and President of the Federation of the UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry Businesswomen’s Committee; and Dr. Nahed Taher, CEO of the Bahrain-based Gulf Investment Bank and the first Saudi woman to head a bank in the Gulf region.
“In business, power is more than a title,” said Dr. Sulaiman Al-Hattlan, editor-in-chief of Forbes Arabia. “It is about action, not position. It is about integrity, passion, personality, impact and influence. Our Most Powerful Businesswomen in the Arab world list required some tough choices too.”
The listing, Dr. Hattlan explained, is compiled based on a power scorecard that takes into account both title and resume, the size and importance of the woman’s business, her influence and career path, cultural and social impact, and the number of regional and international media mentions. Input from Forbes’ correspondents and analysts throughout the region factored heavily into the decision-making process, followed by research generated by the Dubai-based office.