Middle East & North Africa

Neveen El Tahri

As a daughter of a diplomat and a youngster, Neveen lived and was educated in a number of countries; Panama, Finland, Lebanon and the United Kingdom. After graduating in 1980 from Cairo University Faculty of Economics & Political Science, she joined the Chase National Bank of Egypt (later Commercial International Bank "CIB") to work as a corporate banker, ultimately heading the Petroleum, Tourism and Electronic corporate banking divisions.

Rania Seddik

Rania Seddik, 30, is on a mission to salvage Egypt’s treasures; while that might conjure up images of tombs full of gold and preciously wrapped mummies, Rania has something quite different in mind. ‘I don’t want Egypt’s traditional crafts to only be found in museums! We need to protect and transmit our skills, before it’s too late.’ Rania’s fears are not entirely unfounded. The souks of Cairo and Luxor are overflowing with precious boxes, copper coffee pots and shawls, but beware: many may well be made in China!

Nermin Sa'd

Nermin Sa'd’s life turned around when her husband took a job in Saudi Arabia. This qualified engineer found herself in a country with strict social customs, where women and men are not allowed to mix in the workplace. ‘The engineering field in Saudi is 100% male! So I could either sit at home or change my career.’ She tried teaching, but it was not her domain. ‘I’m hard-wired to be an engineer,’ she says, ‘it’s what I trained for!’

Iba Masood

Graduates in the United Arab Emirates trying to unlock the door to employment are in luck: Iba Masood has devised a web-based careers portal tailored specifically to their needs. What makes it special? ‘We exclusively post internships and vacancies for students and fresh graduates with zero to two years of experience,’ says Iba, 22, a very recent graduate herself. ‘It saves wasting time applying for “graduate” jobs that actually want people with four or five years of experience.’

Meisa Batayneh

Meisa Batayneh is the founder and principal architect at maisam architects and engineers.

She is experienced in multiple facets of design including architecture, planning, urban design, place branding and a pioneer of Green Buildings in the region.

Meisa’s work has won multiple global awards: the Architzer A+ Popular Choice Award 2015 and LEAF Award 2014 for A Gateway to Petra, Arabian Property Awards 2010 to 2013.

Hanan Saab

Hanan Saab was born in Choueifat, Lebanon. A third generation pharmacist, she graduated from the American University of Beirut (AUB) with distinction, where she was awarded the esteemed Penrose Award.

Zein Shiyyab

With few natural resources and a young population, investment in human resources and education has become a priority for the Kingdom of Jordan, seeking to move towards an economy based on knowledge, skills and technology. ‘In a fast-moving world, education does not stop at school or university, training is an ongoing process that keeps workers and businesses competitive,’ says Zein Shiyyab, the young CEO of eTraining1.com, a web-based hub she has created to facilitate access and interaction among training professionals.

Rana El Chemaitelly

The first reason that spurred Rana El Chemaitelly to set up The Little Engineer, an after-school activity centre where youngsters age four to 16+ can learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, was her son: ‘he is only seven years old but he is addicted to electronic games! The more time he spent on them, the more unsociable he was becoming. I decided that youngsters today need a place where they can learn and engage in more practical and sociable activities.’

Nawal Yaghi Fakhry

‘Many women in Lebanon need to find work nowadays to help support their families,’ says Nawal Yaghi, a newfound entrepreneur who has taken to business after a long career in banking. ‘Rising divorce rates mean more women find themselves obliged to enter the workforce but hard economic times have made it tougher to get a job, in particular for women over the age of 30.’ Not content to sit back and lament this situation, she created Banet Taxi, a taxicab firm that has found its own way to address female employment and transform social attitudes.

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi is United Arab Emirates' Minister of Development and International Co-operation. In November 2004, she became the first woman in the country's history to assume a cabinet position, appointed to manage the UAE's newly merged economy and planning portfolio as Minister for Foreign Trade. Sheikha Lubna was also the Chief Executive Officer of Tejari (WWW.TEJARI.COM), the Middle East's premier electronic business-to- business marketplace. (Now Serving as a board member of Tejari).

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