The world is fascinated by the latest move allowing Saudi women to finally drive, after a long-standing ban ended on June 24 this year.
However, women across the Arab world appear to be cracking the remaining glass ceiling across many sectors of the economy.
Women in the Middle East have always been the most resilient and hard-working gender in the world; and in the past few years, they have made their presence known in many sectors across the region.
From crypto to healthcare betterment, they have not only stood against the naysayers but also promoted innovation and forward thinking in the region.
Here are the top 5 women in business (in no particular order):
1- Ola Doudin (Jordan) (Tech): One of the first cryptocurrency spear headers in the Middle East, Doudin bought her first-ever Bitcoin in 2013.
One year later, she founded the Dubai-based startup BitOasis, an online wallet and exchange that’s available across the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, and the first to use multi-signature technology to protect your digital assets.
Doudin, in recent years, has been busy promoting blockchain technology to support numerous industries. She detailed this at The World Blockchain Forum in Dubai back in 2017.
2- Sahar Nasr (Egypt) (Ministry): Appointed as the Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation in February 2017.
In March, Nasr also temporarily assumed the post of Minister of Public Business Sector.
In June, she signed three agreements with the German Development Minister worth $227.9 million in the fields of renewable energy, education, SMEs and irrigation. A professor of Economics at the American University in Cairo, she is a guest lecturer at several universities across the globe.
Nasr has worked with the World Bank for 17 years and is currently the Lead Economist in Finance and Private Sector Development Department of MENA.
3- Rania Nashar (Saudi Arabia) (Banking): Appointed as CEO of Samba Financial Group in 2017, she is the first female CEO of a Saudi listed commercial bank.
She took the post with 20 years in the banking sector, having served as a board member of Samba’s global markets subsidiary.
In her time with Samba, she has worked on its merger with United Saudi Bank, oversaw the development of its digital services then helped the transition to a fully Saudi institution, following Citibank’s decision to withdraw its management agreement.
4- Dr. Jeehan Abdul Qadir (UAE) (Healthcare): She is an active speaker in spreading health awareness across the Middle East.
She has been highlighting the correlation between a country’s investment in its healthcare and its economic growth.
She was one of the first doctors in the UAE to convince authorities that the same international standards of practice and accreditation applied to healthcare facilities, particularly hospitals, should also apply for cosmetic surgery hospitals. They had been viewed as a different class of hospital, because of the arguably non-urgent nature of their elective surgery work, but in 2017, she proved otherwise. As Executive Chairperson of American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital (AACSH), she has earned a leadership status as an ardent advocate of safe and high-quality healthcare.
5- Paula Yacoubian (Lebanon) (Media and Ministry): A Lebanese politician and law-maker of Armenian ethnic origins. She was previously known as a journalist and a television host.
She is one of Lebanon’s most prominent television personalities.
Throughout her career, she has worked as a host in a number of Lebanese and pan-Arab international television stations.
She is known for the transformational impact she’s had on her organizations and the broader community. Paula became one of the experts chosen by World Bank group as a member of its External Advisory Panel for Diversity and Inclusion, due to her advocacy for women rights, her efforts for women empowerment as well as for being a fierce defender of electoral women quota and a fairer electoral law in Lebanon.
In 2018, she announced her candidacy for the Lebanese General Elections, running for the Armenian Orthodox seat in the Beirut I consistency.
She was officially announced as a winner following the elections, which took place on Sunday, May 5, 2018.