HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qassimi has topped the CEO Middle East list of the Arab world’s most powerful women for the fifth year in a row. Having served for more than 10 years in the UAE Federal Government, Sheikha Lubna has not only been an icon for women in the region, and a trailblazer for women’s rights, but also a vital part of the UAE’s evolution and growth in global prominence.
As Minister of International Cooperation and Development – a role she took up in 2013 following five years as Minister of Foreign Trade – Sheikha Lubna is now a familiar face and formidable player in world politics, and a worthy retainer of the number one spot in the list. Second place on the list goes to this year’s highest new entry, Amal Clooney.
The Lebanese-British lawyer, activist and author is at the forefront of numerous high-profile human rights cases, and can count among her clients the likes of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and former prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko.
The third spot was also another new entry. Loujain Al Hathloul reignited the debate in Saudi Arabia over women drivers, when she was arrested in December for driving across the border from the UAE to Saudi Arabia.
Recently freed from prison, Al Hathloul has become a symbol of the battle for Saudi women to secure the right to drive.
Other entries in the top 10 include perennial favourites Lubna Olayan, Mona Al Munajjed, and Amina Rustamani, as well as newcomers such as UAE fighter pilot Miriam Al Mansour, Moroccan retail tycoon Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch, and chief executive at wasl Properties Zainab Mohammed.
More than a quarter of the list was made up of new entries – 26 in total – showing yet again that women in the Arab world continue to make waves in various sectors and industries. Women from the UAE accounted for 31 of this year’s entries.
The CEO Middle East list considered the influence of Arab women across the globe in all sectors including business, academia, science, and entertainment.