Women in Lead
International Women’s Day is celebrated globally on March 8 every year to draw attention to issues such as gender equality, inclusion, and economic inequality. However, it also recognizes and celebrates the achievements and contributions of women from across the globe and from all walks of life, including social, economic, cultural, and political fields.
The March listicle of “Economy Middle East” highlights the success stories of 27 regional women in the three main fields of Banking & Finance, Telecom, and Technology. These are inspiring accounts of personal and professional growth that have left a lasting impact.
Despite facing significant challenges, these women have risen to top professional positions in sectors traditionally dominated by men. Their stories not only highlight their resilience in breaking the glass ceiling and overcoming cultural barriers but also shed light on the support they offer to advance the careers of other women through NGOs, training and specialized organizations focused on highlighting women’s capabilities and needs.
This world is fraught with numerous challenges such as high inflation, unemployment, climate change, and geopolitical insecurity, among others.
Overcoming these obstacles requires collective efforts, and to achieve that, we must break down barriers, including those hindering women from ascending to leadership and influential positions in their professions.
Read more: Why women are holding the key to sustainable economic growth
In contemporary society, social movements and corporate responsibility are the driving force behind consumers’ purchasing habits and environmental awareness. Furthermore, social media plays a significant role in shaping public perception and support for women, especially during International Women’s Day, by reinforcing the important role women play in business and society and in shaping global sentiment around these issues
To clarify, the women mentioned in this listicle are not ranked based on merit, but rather by Alphabetical order, as the intent is to showcase in no particular order their accomplishments in the three aforementioned sectors.
The Banking & Finance, Technology, and Telecom industries are essential business and economic sectors that, in particular, this region’s countries need to diversify their economies, reduce reliance on hydrocarbons, and advance their visions as drivers of global growth, innovation, and economic prosperity.
Read more: Women breaking male dominance in crypto and blockchain
As we celebrate IWD, we recognize and celebrate the outstanding contributions of these inspirational women.
Women in Lead
Alanoud Bint Hamad Al Thani
Deputy CEO & Chief Business Officer, Qatar Financial Centre (QFC)
Alanoud Bint Hamad Al-Thani has been with QFC since 2016 and assumed her current role in July 2021. Her previous position was as a managing director for business development. She is now an essential part of QFC’s vision to make Doha a leading global financial and commercial hub, as well as a magnet for FDI.
During her tenure with the company, Al-Thani played a crucial role in driving record growth over the past five years. In 2020 alone, she was responsible for increasing the number of firms registering on the platform by an impressive 80 percent.
Before joining QFC, Al-Thani served as the Qatar Country Representative and Director for Silatech, a Qatar-based social initiative that connects young people to employment opportunities throughout the Arab region. She has also held several positions with U.N. agencies and international organizations that specialize in economic development, education and youth employment.
Al-Thani is the recipient of several honors and awards, including being named as a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum, Young Arab Achiever, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani Education Excellence Award, and most recently, she was honored as a 2021 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
With a wealth of experience and achievements, Al-Thani’s role in QFC is a significant one. She is committed to making a difference in the world of finance and is sure to continue driving growth and success in the future..
Women in Lead
Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard
Beatrice Cornacchia is the mastermind behind the company’s brand strategy across 81 markets in the region. She has been with the company since 1991 and has held various roles, including Head of Consumer Marketing for Europe, Head of Issuer and Merchant Marketing for Europe, and Head of Marketing for Italy and Greece.
Cornacchia strikes a balance between Mastercard’s growing tech image and its heritage of creating “Priceless Possibilities.” She played a pivotal role in launching the company’s innovative symbolic and sonic identity across the region, while also enhancing its position as a trustworthy voice for secure and seamless transactions during the pandemic.
Cornacchia’s efforts have earned her numerous personal awards and accolades. She also led winning campaigns at the 2020 MEPRA Awards and a campaign to empower SMEs in the region, which received recognition at the 2021 and 2022 MEPRA Awards and 2022 PRCA Awards.
Overall, Cornacchia is a driving force behind Mastercard’s success in the region, and her innovative and strategic approach to brand strategy has helped the company maintain its position as a leader in the industry..
Women in Lead
Eaman Al Roudhan
CEO Zain Kuwait
In December 2015, Eaman Al Roudhan became the first female CEO of Zain Group, a telecommunications company where she had worked since 1998. Zain Kuwait, one of the company’s most profitable entities, was among the first operators in the Middle East and Africa to introduce 5G technology.
Al Roudhan had previously held various leadership positions within Zain Kuwait and other Zain Group affiliates for a total of 18 years. Among these roles was Chief Regulatory Officer of Zain Group.
As a member of the GSMA Arab World regional interest group and the GSMA Chief Regulatory Officer Group, Al Roudhan has played a key role in shaping the telecommunications industry. She is known for launching the first mobile prepaid service in Kuwait and driving smart city initiatives in key markets.
Thanks to Al Roudhan’s leadership, Zain Kuwait saw impressive growth, with revenues reaching $844 million during the first nine months of 2022 and a client base of 2.6 million as of September 2022. In 2021, the company generated over $1 billion in revenues..
Women in Lead
CEO Commercial Bank of Kuwait
With 37 years of industry experience, Elham Mahfouz currently serves as the CEO of Commercial Bank of Kuwait, a role she has held since 2014. Prior to her current position, Mahfouz was the bank’s GM of International Banking Division, overseeing trade financing, syndicated loans, fundraising, and correspondent relationships with banks around the world for six years, until December 2010. She was later promoted to Deputy CEO in April 2012.
In her current role, Mahfouz oversees three major departments, namely Corporate Credit, Retail Banking, and Treasury. Additionally, she lends her expertise to other areas of the bank. As a result, the bank generated $179 million in net profit and had $14.1 billion worth of total assets in 2021.
Mahfouz gained extensive experience working in various Kuwaiti financial institutions before joining Commercial Bank of Kuwait. Furthermore, she is a member of the supervisory board of the American University of Kuwait.
With her wealth of experience and impressive track record, Mahfouz has proven herself to be a highly capable leader at Commercial Bank of Kuwait, and is well-respected in the industry..
Women in Lead
Elissar Farah Antonios
CEO, UAE and MENA Cluster Head, Citigroup
With almost three decades of experience in the financial industry, Elissar Farah Antonios is a highly accomplished international banker who currently leads Citi’s largest and most diverse operation.
Antonios began her career with Citi in 2005, initially serving as Head of Private Banking in Abu Dhabi before taking on the role of CEO for Citibank Lebanon.
In 2015, she was appointed as CEO of Citibank UAE, and in December 2020, Antonios made history as the first woman to run Citigroup’s MENA Operations when she was named Head of the MENA cluster.
With more than 30 years of banking experience in the Middle East, Antonios got her start in 1990 at Republic National Bank of New York’s London office as a Management Associate focused on the Wealth Management Middle East Desk.
Over the years, she has held positions with Credit Agricole Indosuez in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as ABN AMRO Private Bank. Antonios holds an MBA from Imperial College in London and a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from American University in Beirut..
Women in Lead
Vice President and Head of Marketing, Communications, Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility at Ericsson Middle East & Africa
Fida Kibbi holds a significant role that covers 66 countries, where she manages Marketing, Communications, and S&CR strategies and plans for Ericsson. Her leadership skills are widely recognized, and she is trusted by senior executives in the MEA region. Over the years, Kibbi has developed and executed numerous marketing plans that align with sales strategies and targets, paving the way for digital marketing transformation.
As an expert in communication strategies, Kibbi has been instrumental in driving Ericsson’s transformation, including communicative leadership, crisis communication, and employee and media relations. Her strategic planning and execution have established her as an accomplished team leader, who delivers results.
Kibbi started her journey with Ericsson in 2007, as the Head of Internal Communication. In 2010, she was appointed as the Head of External Communications for the Middle East region. Her exceptional performance led to her appointment as the Vice President and Head of Communications in 2014.
Kibbi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the Lebanese American University, which has undoubtedly contributed to her success in the corporate world. She continues to lead and inspire with her exceptional skills, and her contributions to the industry are highly valued..
Women in Lead
Vice-President, Head of Marketing EMEA South, Middle East and Africa, SAP
With 25 years of experience in IT multinationals, Gina-Marie Collignon is an innovative and customer-focused CMO who has a proven track record of success. Her MBA and extensive business experience have exposed her to the best international practices, which she has incorporated into her three key drivers of Excellence, Care, and Meaning.
Throughout her career, Collignon has held several significant positions, including Head of Marketing for the Middle East and Africa at FireEye/Mandiant, a global leader in cyber security, as well as Head of Marketing for the Middle East, Mediterranean, and Africa at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. She has also spent 12 years in leading Marketing roles at IBM France and IBM Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
Collignon has managed EMEA/MEA marketing budgets of up to $10 million and has consistently delivered successful results throughout her career. She is a strategic thinker and an exceptional leader, with a passion for driving growth and success.
As a leader in software for the management of business processes, SAP is one of the world’s most successful companies. The company has guided cloud and software revenue of between 28.2 and 28.7 billion euros ($30.55 to $31 billion) at constant currencies for 2023, which is expected to result in a growth of 6 to 8 percent. SAP’s commitment to innovation and excellence is in line with Collignon’s core values, making her a perfect fit for the company’s vision and goals..
Women in Lead
Hana Al Rostamani
Group CEO, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB)
Hana Al Rostamani has been in her current role as Group Chief Executive Officer of a major UAE-headquartered bank and publicly listed corporation since 2022, making her the only female to hold this position.
With total assets of $312.4 billion as of September 2022, FAB is the largest bank in the UAE.
Al Rostamani is a recognized change leader who is dedicated to instilling a culture of innovation and diversity in her organization.
With over 20 years of experience in banking and financial services, Al Rostamani is a veteran C-suite executive with specialized knowledge in her field.
Before her current position, Al Rostamani served as Deputy Group CEO and Head of Personal Banking at FAB, where she emphasized the importance of customer-centric and digital-first mindsets.
Al Rostamani currently holds the position of Chair of the Global Council on Sustainable Development Goals, with a particular focus on development goal 7: “Affordable and Clean Energy.” She is also a member of MasterCard Advisory and has served as an independent director in “du” and vice-chairperson of the Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Services.
Al Rostamani earned a doctorate degree in engineering from George Washington University..
Women in Lead
Huda Sabil Abdulla
Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Emirates Islamic Bank PJSC
Huda Sabil Abdulla made history in 2019 by becoming the first Emirati woman to be appointed as CFO of Emirates Islamic, the Islamic subsidiary of Emirates NBD Group. She is a highly skilled financial services professional, with over 26 years of experience in the banking and finance industry.
Abdulla has been an integral part of Emirates NBD Group since the beginning of her career. During her time with the group, she has continued to grow and develop professionally.
Among her many notable achievements, Abdulla is credited with leading the implementation of fund transfer pricing (FTP) rollout. This initiative has enabled efficient pricing and liquidity management for the organization. She also pioneered the establishment of a best-in-class economic profit framework in line with Basel standards.
Abdulla’s exceptional leadership in the banking sector has been recognized with a number of prestigious awards. She was the recipient of the 17th Middle East Future Excellence Award, and the Distinguished Woman Award in Banking and Finance from Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies.
Abdulla earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ajman University of Science and Technology. Her education and experience have equipped her to excel in her role as CFO of Emirates Islamic..
Women in Lead
Chair of Board Directors at Saudi British Bank (SABB)
Lubna Olayan was re-elected for a second three-year term as Chair of the Board of Directors for SABB. She made history in 2004 as the first woman to be elected to the board of a Saudi publicly listed company, Alawwal Bank.
Olayan’s lengthy tenure as CEO of Olayan Financing Company, a global enterprise with operations in manufacturing, distribution, and investments, has provided her with extensive experience in the financial sector.
The World Economic Forum named Olayan to its Board of Trustees in September 2022, reflecting her stature as a prominent business leader.
In addition to her role at SABB, Olayan also chairs the Saudi Swedish Business Council.
Olayan holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, as well as an MBA from Indiana University and an honorary PhD in Law from Trinity College.
SAAB has reported profits of nearly $1 billion during the first three quarters of 2022, with $377 million in Q3 alone..
Women in Lead
Nadia Al Saeed
CEO Bank Al Etihad, Jordan
Since Nadia Al Saeed took on the role of CEO at Bank al Etihad in 2007, she has been instrumental in establishing the bank as one of the most innovative and forward-thinking financial institutions in Jordan.
Al Saeed is a seasoned industry professional, having previously worked as a Strategy Advisor at McKinsey & Co. and as Head of Corporate Banking at Bank al Etihad. Her extensive experience has been invaluable in driving the bank’s success.
Under her leadership, Bank al Etihad has undergone a digital transformation that has seen the implementation of cutting-edge technologies and the optimization of the bank’s operations. Al Saeed oversees a team of 1,300 employees who are committed to delivering the best possible service to the bank’s customers.
Al Saeed is passionate about promoting the participation of women in economic growth, and in 2014 she launched the bank’s Shorouq program, which is specifically designed to support women in achieving their financial goals. The bank has also implemented a range of policies that align with the UN Women Empowerment Principles, further demonstrating Al Saeed’s commitment to gender equality.
In 2021, Bank al Etihad achieved a net profit of $48.5 million, up from $45.8 million the previous year. The bank’s revenues for the year also increased significantly, reaching $513.4 million, up from $424.5 million year-on-year.
As of December 2021, the bank’s total assets stood at $8.8 billion, cementing its position as a major player in the Jordanian financial sector. Al Saeed is also the Chairperson of Endeavor Jordan and has previously served as Minister of ICT and the Ministry’s Secretary General from 2003-2006..
Women in Lead
Najla Ahmed Midfa
Board member, United Arab Bank, Emirates Development Bank
Najla Al Midfa is the CEO of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), a government-supported organization established in 2016 to cultivate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sharjah. As the head of Sheraa, she oversees the annual Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF).
Before joining Sheraa, Najla held a senior position at Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development where she focused on financing SMEs. She also worked as a consultant at McKinsey and Company’s New York office, where she primarily served clients in the financial institutions sector. Her previous experience includes roles at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Shell.
In addition to her role at Sheraa, Najla sits on the boards of United Arab Bank, Emirates Development Bank, and Emirates Schools Establishment. She also serves as the Co-Chair of the 4th Industrial Revolution Working Group in the UK-UAE Business Council, Vice-Chairperson of Young Arab Leaders, and board member of Endeavor UAE.
Najla has been recognized as a fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Middle East Leadership Initiative and an Eisenhower Global Fellow. She holds an MBA from Stanford University..
Women in Lead
Najla Al Shirawi
CEO SICO Bank BSC, Bahrain
Najla Al Shirawi became the CEO of SICO in 2014, after only one year in her role as deputy CEO. Her leadership has been instrumental in the expansion of SICO beyond Bahrain’s borders. Al Shirawi’s appointment at SICO in 1997, a mere six years prior, speaks volumes about her leadership skills.
Before joining SICO, Al Shirawi worked with the Geneva-based Dar Al-Maal Al-Islami Trust where she launched private banking services in the Gulf region. She is an active member of the Bahraini community and holds a position as a member of the Bahrain Economic Board (EDB).
Al Shirawi also serves as a Chairperson on the Board of Directors for two SICO subsidiaries: SICO Funds Services Company (SFS) in Bahrain and SICO Financial Brokerage in Abu Dhabi.
Due to her exceptional services and banking expertise, Al Shirawi’s skills are in high demand in Bahrain. She currently serves as an Independent Board Member of Eskan Bank BSC and a Board Member of the Deposit Protection Scheme, the Bahrain Associations of Banks, and the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance. Al Shirawi holds an MBA and a BA in Civil Engineering from Bahrain University..
Women in Lead
Narjes Farookh Jamal
COO Bahrain Bourse
In 1998, Narjes Farookh Jamal became a member of the Bahrain Bourse immediately after graduating from the University of Kuwait, College of Science. During that time, it was rare for women to have experience or be able to enter the IT industry, yet Jamal was able to achieve just that.
Today, as the COO, Jamal oversees the digital transformation of the Bahrain Bourse, which began the year with a market capitalization of $30.2 billion. She also manages the development of ESG practices and partnerships with other regional exchanges.
Despite being in a male-dominated role, Jamal performed exceptionally well, even while managing her parental responsibilities at home. Her technical expertise in capital markets enables her to translate that knowledge into insights and effectively leverage it for commercial success.
Last October, the Bahrain Bourse signed an MoU to strengthen the relationship between itself and the Muscat Stock Exchange.
Jamal also serves as a board member of Bahrain Clear, which recently launched the Bahrain Private Market in August, an all-encompassing platform for closed shareholding companies..
Women in Lead
Chairperson and CEO, Morocco Capital Market Authority
Nezha Hayat has been re-elected for a second consecutive term as Chairperson and CEO of the Moroccan Capital Market Authority, and as Chair of the Africa and Middle East Regional Committee (AMERC), by the Moroccan Capital Market Authority in 2021.
The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) Africa and Middle East Regional Committee (AMERC) brings together financial market regulators of the region to discuss, exchange information, and promote issues specific to capital market development.
Hayat has been serving in her current role since 2016, where she is responsible for overseeing the country’s non-banking capital markets, including the stock exchange and brokerage firms. The total value of all securities traded on the Bourse de Casablanca, known as market capitalization, is $53.71 billion.
Prior to her nomination, Hayat worked at Société Générale Morocco group, where she made history in 2007 by becoming the first woman to sit on a management board of a bank in the country.
Hayat holds a degree from ESSEC Business School Paris, which is one of the leading business schools in Europe..
Women in Lead
Raja Easa Al Gurg
Deputy Chairperson of the National Bank of Fujairah and on the advisory board of Coutts Bank
Dr. Raga Easa Al Gurg holds several notable positions within the banking and business worlds. As Deputy Chairperson of the National Bank of Fujairah and an advisory board member of Coutts Bank, the wealth division of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, she has an impressive financial background
In addition to her banking roles, Dr. Al Gurg is the Chairperson and Managing Director of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group (ESAG), a well-known and respected business in the UAE. Her commitment to supporting Arab women entrepreneurs is evident in her founding of the Dubai Business Women Council and her position as a board member of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) and Dubai Women’s Association.
Dr. Al Gurg’s influence extends beyond business and banking. As Vice Chairperson of University of Dubai, she plays a role in shaping the future of higher education in the UAE. She is also on the Board of Trustees for the Mohammad Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, a member of the Board of Governors of Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University, and on the Board of Trustees for Ajman University.
Dr. Al Gurg’s contributions to academia and economics have been recognized with two honorary doctorates. Queen’s University Belfast awarded her an Honorary Doctorate for economics, and Amity University, India awarded her a Doctor of Literature..
Women in Lead
CEO, Arab Bank, Jordan
Randa Sadik has assumed the role of CEO at Arab Bank since February. Having served the bank for over a decade, she started as Deputy CEO in 2010. Sadik has extensive experience in the banking sector, having spent 24 years at National Bank of Kuwait, where she was General Manager in her last role.
Throughout her career, Sadik has demonstrated effective leadership in managing executive teams. This led to her holding various positions within the Arab Bank Group, including Chairman of the Board of Arab Tunisian Bank, Vice Chairman of Arab Bank Australia ltd, Board member of Oman Arab Bank, and Chairman of the Management Committee of Al-Arabi Investment Group.
Arab Bank has a significant global presence, with over 600 branches and assets worth $64.7 billion as of September last year. The bank recorded a year-end net income of $544.3 million. In line with the bank’s commitment to sustainability and ESG, it has introduced its first Sustainable Finance Framework.
Sadik holds an MBA from the American University of Beirut, adding to her extensive experience in the banking sector..
Women in Lead
Former CEO of Samba Financial Group. Current advisor at the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia
In 2017, Rania Nashar held the position of CEO at Samba Financial Group. Today, Samba is a part of Saudi National Bank (SNB), the largest commercial bank and lender in Saudi Arabia, boasting assets of $243.8bn. The merger of National Commercial Bank and Samba Financial Group brought about the creation of SNB, of which the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) holds a majority share.
Nashar has an impressive background, having previously served as a board member for Samba’s global markets subsidiary and accumulated over 20 years of experience in the commercial banking sector. In June 2021, she was appointed to head compliance and governance at PIF, a globally prominent sovereign wealth fund valued at over $600 billion. PIF is playing a primary role in realizing the economic transformation envisaged by Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals.
Nashar has served as the chair of the Women in Business Action Council at B20 Saudi Arabia. This council acts as the voice of the private sector in dialogues with the G20.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and information technology, which she obtained from King Saud University in 1997..
Women in Lead
Chief Client Experience and Conduct Officer, Mashreq Bank
Rania Nerhal has held the position of division leader at Mashreq Bank since 2020, with a focus on improving the bank’s client experience strategy. Her top priority is to ensure that all business is conducted efficiently, ethically, and effectively, with clear and regular communication of policies to all clients.
Nerhal brings over 25 years of experience in client relationship management within the banking industry. Prior to joining Mashreq, she held various executive management roles, including Head of Corporate Banking Dubai at HSBC Commercial Banking, and Senior Relationship Manager of Corporate Banking at Ahly Bank of Kuwait.
Joining Mashreq in February 2018 as Head of Public Sector, Healthcare, Education & Energy, Nerhal’s leadership resulted in the establishment of the MEED Energy Club and Frost & Sullivan Healthcare Forum. These achievements have helped to solidify Mashreq’s positioning within the respective industries and increased market awareness of Mashreq’s strong sector capabilities.
Nerhal graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Faculty of Commerce and Foreign Trade at Cairo, Egypt..
Women in Lead
Vice President, Middle East and Africa, Cisco
With over 25 years of experience in various industries including technology, financial services, and customer experience, Asaad is a highly successful business leader.
Before joining Cisco, Asaad was the CEO of Raya Customer Experience, a business process outsourcing service provider with operations across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The company serviced multinational and Fortune 500 companies, and Asaad’s leadership was pivotal in its success.
Following her tenure at Raya, Cisco sought Asaad to lead its operations across the Middle East and Africa. In her current role, Asaad is responsible for collaborating with governments, customers, and partners to help them achieve their digitization agendas using Cisco’s portfolio of advanced solutions.
Cisco, which has 3,000 employees and contractors, operates in 74 countries across the MEA region.
In March 2021, Asaad was appointed by Egypt’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology to serve on the board of directors for the country’s Information Technology Industry Development Agency.
Asaad holds a degree in Computer Science and Information Technology from the University of Houston in Texas..
Women in Lead
Head of Territory, Saudi BNP Paribas
With nearly two decades of experience in building both commercial and investment banking platforms in Saudi Arabia, Reema AlAsmari has demonstrated her versatile leadership skills across entrepreneurial ventures, complex institutional banking units, and treasury businesses on national and international scales.
In March of 2021, AlAsmari joined BNP Paribas as head of territory for Saudi Arabia. In her new role, she oversees the bank’s national commercial strategy, with a particular focus on strengthening relationships with strategic clients, multinational companies, and government-related agencies. AlAsmari is also responsible for expanding the bank’s product and service portfolio across all CIB segments.
AlAsmari previously held the position of CEO for Saudi Arabia at Natixis, where she was appointed in January 2020. Before that, she spent nine years working for JPMorgan Chase & Co in the Kingdom, where she held several senior roles, including Treasury Services Country Head and Treasurer for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Johannesburg and Moscow.
AlAsmari earned her bachelor’s degree from King Saud University (KSU)..
Women in Lead
Rola Abu Manneh
CEO Standard Chartered Bank, UAE
Since August 2018, Rola Abu Manneh has been the first Emirati woman to lead a bank in the UAE. As the CEO, she has been instrumental in expanding the bank’s presence, elevating it to one of the top five markets in the country.
Abu Manneh has always been a strong advocate for empowering women and promoting female entrepreneurship. To this end, she has spearheaded several initiatives and provided mentorship programs to university students. As a result, she has been recognized as one of the most powerful and influential businesswomen in the region.
Recently, in 2021, Abu Manneh was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Dubai International Chamber. Prior to joining Standard Chartered Bank, she held senior positions in First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), including Head of Corporate & Investment Banking for Abu Dhabi and General Manager of FAB’s Wholesale Banking Group.
Abu Manneh holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics & Operational Research graduate from the University of London – Royal Holloway and Bedford New College..
Women in Lead
Senior Vice President and Group Country Manager for GCC Visa
Saeeda Jaffar and her team prioritize driving Visa’s business growth by collaborating with financial institutions, partners and governments to make Visa the preferred partner for them.
In June 2021, Jaffar joined Visa and took on the responsibility of overseeing Visa’s operations in six countries. Two months later, Visa launched its global initiative “She’s Next” to empower women entrepreneurs in the UAE, Saudi, Egypt, and Morocco.
Prior to her current role, Jaffar worked for Alvarez & Marsal as the Managing Director for the Middle East for five years. She also held leadership positions at Bain & Company and McKinsey & Company, where she worked with both private and public sector clients.
As a member of the board of trustees at Kuwait University, Jaffar actively contributes to the academic community. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University, and a Masters and Doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)..
Women in Lead
Group CEO & Managing Director, Multiply Group
Bouazza has an impressive history of driving growth as a business leader. In her current position as the head of strategic development for Abu Dhabi-based Multiply Group, she oversees the company’s investment portfolio, while also ensuring sustainable growth for its subsidiaries.
Multiply Group became a publicly-traded company on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange in December 2021. In addition to her role at Multiply Group, Bouazza serves as a board member for Arena Events Group, Emirates Driving Company, Viola Communications, and Selphagy Therapeutics Inc.
At the young age of 22, Bouazza founded Multiply Marketing Consultancy, a local boutique agency that she successfully grew by 400 times over a decade. She later merged Multiply Marketing Consultancy with Viola Communications.
Bouazza also served as a member of the Artificial Intelligence Committee and Strategy Committee within the Royal Group, the parent company of Multiply Marketing Consultancy.
Bouazza earned a BA in Political Science and Public Administration from the American University of Beirut in 1998. In 2014, she received a degree in Strategic Intelligence from Harvard Business School Executive Education..
Women in Lead
Sarah Al Suhaimi
Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Tadawul
Sarah Al-Suhaimi chairs the Board of Directors for the Saudi Tadawul Holding Group, which is known as the largest exchange in the region. Moreover, she serves as the Chairperson of Lazard Ltd. in Saudi and the MENA, while also holding a board member position at the Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and the Saudi Arabian Airlines Public Agency. In addition, she is a trustee of the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation and a We-Fi Leadership Champion.
Between 2014 and 2021, Al-Suhaimi served as the CEO of Saudi National Bank Capital (SNB Capital) and was also a member of its board of directors. During her leadership, assets under management (AUMs) increased by more than four hundred percent.
Furthermore, from 2013 to 2015, Al-Suhaimi served a two-year term as Vice-Chairperson of the Advisory Committee of the Capital Market Authority (CMA) Board of Directors. Before that, she led the asset and wealth management division at Jadwa Investment Company.
Al-Suhaimi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from King Saud University..
Women in Lead
Shaikha Al Bahar
Deputy Group CEO, National Bank of Kuwait
Shaikha Al-Bahar is a well-respected figure in the banking industry of the Middle East region, serving as the Deputy Group CEO of National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) Group since 2014. With extensive experience in institutional finance, Al-Bahar has made a significant impact on Kuwait’s financial community, particularly in the areas of privatization, project finance, bond issues, advisory services, and IPOs.
She has been associated with NBK for more than 35 years and is now leading the bank’s digital transformation, culminating in the launch of Weyay, Kuwait’s first digital bank, in November 2021. Besides her role at NBK, Al-Bahar also chairs NBK Egypt and NBK France and serves on the boards of NBK (International) PLC and NBK Global Asset Management Limited.
NBK operates across four continents in 13 countries and has more than 8,500 employees working in 140 branches. The bank has grown to become the biggest in the country, generating a profit of over $1.7 billion from a net operating income of $3.3 billion in 2022.
Al-Bahar’s contributions to the Arab banking industry were recognized in 2022 when she received an award for her Distinguished Services to Arab Banking from the Arab Bankers Association..
Women in Lead
Wafa Ahmad Abdul Aziz AlQatami
Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors, Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA)
Aside from her role at KDIPA, Wafa Ahmad Abdul Aziz AlQatami has been a Board of Directors member of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) since 2010, where she oversees the Finance & Investment committee and is a member of the commerce & transport and trace policies committees.
Having garnered over four decades of experience in the banking industry, AlQatami has held the position of Acting Director General of Kuwait Investment Bank.
AlQatami currently serves as the CEO of the Nine Pearls for General Trading & Contracting Co., Managing Director of Al Marfa General Trading, and Deputy Chairman of the Board for Al Wafer Marketing Services. Her previous roles include Chairman of the Board of the Kuwaiti Financial Group and board member for Kuwait & ME Bank, Kuwait Clearing Co., and Al Khonani & Al Qatami General Trading.
AlQatami was a founding member of both the Kuwait Forex Society and the Kuwait Businesswomen Committee. She holds a BA in Political Science & Public Administration from the American University of Beirut..