JEDDAH: Saudis dominate the Top 10 of Forbes annual Power Businesswomen in the Middle East list, with three of the country’s biggest names in the top five.
Samba Financial Group’s Rania Nashar is ranked third on the list, followed by Tadawul’s Sarah Al-Suhaimi and Saudi British Bank’s Lubna Olayan.
On the cusp of International Women’s Day next month, Forbes Middle East has unveiled its annual Power Businesswomen in the Middle East list, packed with 100 exceptional businesswomen at the head of many of the most influential and transformational companies in the region.
In the 2020 list, there are 22 new entries and 23 nationalities represented across 28 sectors. Emiratis are the most prevalent nationality with 23 entries. There are also nine Egyptians, eight Lebanese and eight Omani women.
The Forbes list was constructed via nominations and through in-depth research based on criteria including the size of the businesses that these women head, their accomplishments over the past year, the initiatives that they champion, and their overall work experience.
The majority (79) of the 100 women are self-made, 16 of whom have started their own businesses. And 21 women work in their family businesses, with many of them starting out when it was rare to find women in the workplace. There are 21 women from the banking and financial services sector, including four from stock exchanges and financial regulators.
The public sector is also well represented, with 13 women on the list heading government organizations, including Director General of Smart Dubai Aisha Bin Bishr, who is overseeing Dubai’s digital transformation. Sarah Al-Suhaimi chairs Tadawul, the region’s biggest stock exchange, which recently handled the IPO of the world’s most valuable company, Aramco.
Half of the list head large corporations, including Nadia Al-Saeed, who runs Jordan’s fourth biggest lender, Bank al Etihad, and Pakinam Kafafi, CEO of Egyptian energy company, Taqa Arabia, who is the only female leader in the oil and gas sector on the list.
The Middle East’s outstanding female leadership was reflected internationally in 2019 when Forbes’ list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women featured three women from this region — who now make up the top three. Raja Al Gurg (#84 on the Forbes list) manages her family’s business, which was first founded by her father. Indian national Renuka Jagtiani (#96 on the Forbes list) has built a retail empire in the UAE. And Rania Nashar (#97 on the Forbes list) became the first female CEO of Samba Financial Group in 2017, Saudi Arabia’s fourth-biggest bank by assets.
“These Arab women are not only driving economic growth in the region, but they are also representative of the Middle East’s strong female leadership and influence across all areas of life, from e-commerce to financial services,” said Khuloud Al-Omian, editor in chief of Forbes Middle East.