10 Inspiring Arab Women

Our region has no lack of amazing women who are all worth being dubbed inspirational in so many ways, and for this reason narrowing the list down to 10 was truly difficult. We believe that every woman is an inspiration, from the stay-at-home mama dedicating her life and soul to her adorable children, to the CEO at the head of the biggest company fighting every day to get the appreciation she deserves. On top of that, we all have women in our lives that we consider an inspiration for endless reasons – we love you ladies! That being said, here are 10 amazing arab women across widely different industries that we think you should know about and spare a moment of appreciation for.

1. Lobna Helal

The second most powerful Arab Businesswoman according to Forbes Middles East, and first ever woman appointed as Deputy Governor of Egypt’s Central Bank (CBE), Lobna Helal is truly navigating a man’s world.  Having initially held the governing position from 2011 to 2013, and then again from 2015 until now – Helal has had to face many obstacles during an unsteady economic and political climate in Egypt.

2. Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi

Another first on our list, Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi was the first woman to hold a ministerial post in the UAE, having served as Minister of Tolerance, Minister of State for International Cooperation, as well as Minister of Economy and Planning. She additionally sits on the boards for various organizations throughout the UAE. We have come a long way since Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi first joined as Minister, as she has paved the way for a cabinet which is now comprised of almost 30% women.

3. Amal Clooney

Having started her career in Criminal Defense, Amal has since navigated towards more Human Rights-centric fields of International law and has worked at the International Court of Justice in The Hague and represented countless high-profile cases of human rights injustices. The successful lawyer chose to use the spotlight that followed her marriage to advance the causes she cares about, co-founding the Clooney Foundation for Justice.

4. Elissa Freiha

Co-founder of Womena, a group that aims to empower women by funding new startups through angel investors, Elissa Freiha might be a new name to you but one you should definitely know. Since Womena’s launch, their angel investors have invested over 2 million AED in rising startups within the UAE and across the globe. At only 28 years old, Freiha has already invested in her first “unicorn” (company valued at $1bn or more) and wishes to create a platform that can promote women’s presence in investment.

5. Huda Kattan

Who doesn’t know Huda Kattan?! The founder of Huda beauty has made a name for herself in the cosmetics industry in the past few years. Atop her 28 million Instagram followers, she is now not only a global influencer but also a hugely successful self-made business woman who’s redefining Middle Eastern Beauty standards and bringing them to a wider audience.

6. Dr. Amina Al Rustamani                                                                 

Ranked 9th out of 100 most powerful Arab women in the Middle East in 2015, Al Rustamani is a name to be reckoned with in the UAE and worldwide. An electrical engineer by trade, she served as CEO at TECOM Group and is now the President of the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation. If you’re a Dubai native, you’ll probably know her as one of the people involved in the development of Dubai Design District, an area for the creative, design-oriented minds and companies of Dubai.

7. Queen Rania of Jordan

While she might in part be known for her effortless grace and on-point outfits, Queen Rania’s heart is even bigger than her closet. Through organizations such as the Queen Rania Foundation of Education and Developments and the Queen Rania Teacher Academy, Her Majesty has led many efforts to support the education of young generations in the region. In her own words, she dedicates her time to human rights issues and uses her influence to empower the leaders of tomorrow. Honestly, what’s not to love!

8. Mariam al-Mansouri

Women in the Middle East have been shattering numerous glass ceilings in recent year, and Mariam al-Mansouri single-handedly crossed a frontier into the male-dominated world of fighter pilots. Al-Mansouri became the first female fighter pilot in the UAE after graduating from the Khalifa bin-Zayed Air College of the United Arab Emirates Air Force in 2007. While her integration wasn’t easy at first, Miriam established herself in her field, and gained the respect she deserves, becoming a role model for the women who came after her.

9. Raneem El Welily

The first Egyptian woman to rank number 1 in the world for ANY sport, Squash champion Raneem El Welily is a star in the world of Squash. Having held the title for best female player in the world, she’s the perfect example of how hard work and dedication can help you achieve your dreams.

10. Dr. Hayat Sindi

Dr. Hayat is a medical scientist and the first Saudi Arabian woman accepted at Cambridge University in the field of Biotechnology. Her scientific research has seen her awarded prizes and recognitions worldwide, as she now serves as a visiting scholar at Harvard University. Additionally, she promotes science and education for Saudi women, is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO, and was among the first women to serve in the Saudi Arabian Consultative Council – her list of amazing achievements doesn’t end!

Let us know, who are the most inspirational women in your life?

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