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Arab Women Break Barriers with Success | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Egyptians chant slogans as they march in downtown Cairo to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, 2013. Faced with a spike in sexual violence against female protesters, Egyptian women are overcoming stigma and recounting painful testimonies to force silent authorities and a reticent society to confront “sexual terrorism.” AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD KHALED (Photo credit should read MAHMUD KHALED/AFP/Getty Images)

Many Arab women in different countries have succeeded in breaking barriers and achieving accomplishments in many fields. On International Women’s Day, many stories of pioneering Arab women have emerged to highlight the special marks they have left in their countries.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian women succeeded in making remarkable advancement in many social spheres such as health, education, economic and social work, which allowed them to lead many major institutions.

In the finance sector, three Saudi women were recently appointed in positions in banking and financial markets. Among them was Sarah Al Suhaimi, who was appointed chairwoman of Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange Tadawul, the biggest stock market in the Middle East.


Sudan’s Awadiya Mahmoud Koukou was selected by the United States as one of the ten bravest women in the world. She endured many struggles, but finally succeeded in founding an 8,000-strong women’s cooperation union, whose members work in serving food and beverages on the streets of Khartoum.


Nour Al-Sherbini, 21, the first Egyptian to win the Women’s Squash World Championship in 2016, a month after she won the British Open Squash Championship, becoming the youngest champion to win the title.

Sherbini aims to be a role model for Egyptian women and to motivate them to practice all kind of sports despite the lack of governmental support in this field.


Since she was appointed by President Mahmoud Abbas as the governor of Ramallah, Laila Ghannam has astounded her Palestinian community, especially because she is the first woman to serve in such a position in the country, and maybe the Arab world.

People in Ramallah respect Ghannam and consider her the most modest of officials, because she lives among them and shoulders her responsibilities seriously.


In a country torn apart by war, whose women suffer from displacement and torture, female volunteers of the civil defense service chose to arm themselves with power, patience, and bravery to relieve the people. On the International Women’s Day, Syria’s Manal Ibrahim Abzeed received on behalf of 100 of her colleagues an accolade in recognition of their service in the Civil Defense teams in Daraa.

Manal joined the “White Helmets Organization” in April 2015 and was specialized in raising awareness among people on how to escape to safe places. She also works in the mental rehabilitation of traumatized people.


Joumana Dammous is a Lebanese woman who founded the HORECA Exhibition that focuses on hospitality and food services. In 1993, she launched the first HORECA exhibition in Beirut, which attracted a myriad of businessmen and investors aiming to work in these sectors. The exhibition was soon adopted in many countries like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait and has become one of the most important annual events.

Dammous was selected business Woman of the Year in 2004 and was honored many times by Lebanese and UN organizations.


Emirati Amal Al Qubaisi, the first woman elected to chair the Federal National Council, brought together the female speakers of parliament from all over the world in a summit that was held in Abu Dhabi. They succeeded in devising strategies to combat challenges that face the world through the global summit that was held in December 2016.


Dr. Reem Akla Abu Dalbouh is a member in the Jordanian parliament who left a significant mark on the former and current parliament. Abu Dalbouh played a major role in parliamentary discussions on laws and legislations. She headed the parliamentary committee for women and family affairs and is known as an activist for children’s rights, who participates frequently in local and regional meetings.