Top 5 businesswomen in the MENA region breaking all societal stereotypes - MENA startups, innovation, and tech news


Top 5 businesswomen in the MENA region breaking all societal stereotypes

Top 5 businesswomen in the MENA region breaking all societal stereotypes

“Don’t ever make decisions based on fear. Make decisions based on hope and possibility.”- Michelle Obama. “Lean in, speak out, have a voice in your organization, and never use the word, ‘sorry’.” -Trish Bertuzzi.

The above mentioned are the popular statements quoted by renowned women personalities, which are precisely pertinent for women in the 21 st century and beyond. ‘Behind every successful nation, there is a women entrepreneur’. This saying stands for the functioning of the whole world. The woman is said to be the ultimate strength and support system behind either the success of an individual or the society. Women being women have faced countless amounts of stereotypes, a lot of discrimination and differentiation in the name of gender. Despite all the struggles, women have shown the world that it is possible to be a woman and yet make it up in a patriarchal-dominated society.

Today, we will be looking at such women business entrepreneurs in the MENA region, who are finding niches, booming markets, and creating opportunities for the business world. The female entrepreneurs mentioned below are the faces of the Arab world’s future – with high rates of education, widespread use of information and communication technology, international openness, and an optimistic outlook. Let’s! delve into it.


1. RAJA SALEH EASA AL GURG, first up we have Raja Saleh Easa Al Gurg, the managing director and vice-chairperson of one of the biggest amalgamates in the Middle East. The Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group consists of 27 companies varying from retail to construction to a metal foundry. Al Gurg is also president of the Dubai Business Women Council and works to improve and develop female entrepreneurship in the United Arab Emirates. She also serves as a board member at Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dubai Women's Association and HSBC Middle East. She is the first-ever Emirati woman appointed to the board of HSBC Bank Middle East Limited (HBME).

2.RENUKA JAGTIANI is the chairwoman and CEO of Landmark Group, a multinational consumer conglomerate based in Dubai, founded by her husband Micky Jagtiani. For more than 20 years, she has led the company's corporate strategy and expansion into new markets. As head of the company, Jagtiani oversees more than 50,000 employees. She has also helped to grow the group’s fashion and operates over 2,300 plus outlets. The landmark group and Jagtiani foundation have taken many initiatives to benefact communities impacted by the pandemic in the MENA region, pledging a total of $4 million.

3.HANA AL ROSTAMANI was earlier FAB’s deputy CEO and group head of personal banking. she currently chairs FAB Private bank Suisse and is a member of MasterCard Advisory and the IMD Foundation Board. She was named group CEO of FAB in January 2021. The banking group has assets of $250 billion and a net profit of $2.9 billion in 2020. FAB is expected to be the largest foreign bank among banks in Egypt with total assets of more than $8.1 billion. Previously she was FAB’s deputy CEO and group head of personal banking. For more than 20 years, she has been sitting on AW Rostamani Group’s Board of Directors.

4.RANIA NASHAR, is the first-ever female CEO of Saudi commercial bank, Samba Financial Group. She becomes CEO at a time when Saudi Arabia is starting with the reform implementation, that will enhance and promote gender equality as part of their Vision 2030. Samba Financial Group is Saudi Arabia's third-largest bank by assets. Nashar formerly served as a board member for Samba's global markets subsidiary and has over 20 years of experience in the commercial banking sector.

5.SARAH AL SUHAIMI, since 2014, Al Suhaimi has served as the CEO of NCB Capital, which is one of the largest asset administration firms in Saudi Arabia and largest sharia-compliant asset managers in the world with more than $37 billion of assets. She is a board member. She also serves as a chairperson of the Saudi Stock Exchange, Tadawul, a market cap of $2.4 trillion. She has also completed the Public Administration Executive Program at Harvard Business School.


Women in the middle east region have long struggled to obtain their rights due to them under international law and treaties, and for greater representation in their countries’ political, economic and social systems. Initially, the conditions of women were terrible as they had no or little right to own and were supposed to be their man's property; consequently, if the man died everything went to his sons. women's status varied widely according to the laws and cultural norms of the tribes to which they belong. Gender inequality remains a major concern in the region, which has the lowest female economic participation in the world (27% of females in the region participate in the workforce, compared to a global average of 56%).


To unleash the full potential, we first need to delve into the varied barriers blocking the MENA region women’s path to economic prosperity. According to a report by Forbes, there are many challenges faced by women entrepreneurs to survive in a male-dominated business environment. such as denial of loans due to gender and cultural biases, lack of social and family support which ultimately leads them to abandon and sacrifice their work life.

The constant fear of failure holds them back as people are skeptical of their business capabilities. Societal norms are built in a patriarchal structure which continuously forces women to work accordingly while facing stereotypes. In various parts, male counterparts are required with women to do the needful works. The lack of data on women entrepreneurs has hindered both understanding and systematic analysis of the constraints that women face in the business world.


The Businesswomen surveyed in the MENA region are well ahead of their counterparts in Western Europe and North America concerning many key areas. According to a report from UNESCO, 34- 57% of STEM grads in Arab countries are women, which is much higher than in the universities of the US or Europe. These are the following key characteristics of women-owned business enterprises and their contribution to economic development and job creation.

Revenue levels: When compared on a USD (United States Dollar) equivalent basis enterprises are generating more than $100,000 per annum – comparing favorably to the share found among women owners in the United States. Ownership structure: A majority of the women surveyed in the MENA region are sole owners of their firms, at 59% and 55% respectively. Job creation: Women are creating employment efficiently if given the required opportunities.

Experience: Most survey participants own established businesses and many have extensive years of experience. Women in Lebanon and Bahrain are the most seasoned business owners of the group. Management time: Women business owners are actively involved in managing their enterprises. Close to two-thirds spend at least 40 hours per week operating their businesses and over one in five spends 60 or more hours.


Despite the apparent concerning issues of women’s entrepreneurship in the region and the adversities of life, women business owners have successfully achieved great heights gracefully and efficiently. Their achievements, that have created history will get enshrined in the minds of people and will always be remembered.

The perceptions and mindsets have surely changed with the changing times but we have a long way to go. Women could contribute to the country's economy since women's employment can significantly improve household income by 25 percent and lead many families out of poverty.

The increased household income will not only positively impact MENA economies on the micro- level, but it will boom economies on the macro level as well. At last, the focal point should always be based upon raising all gender equally as they all are a part of natural creation.

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