Hana Al Rostamani
Hana Al Rostamani, Group CEO of the First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), climbed two spots to land first place this year. Image Credit: AW Rostamani Group/Gulf News Archives

Emirati women have dominated the list of Middle East’s most powerful businesswomen, it was revealed on Sunday.

Hana Al Rostamani of First Abu Dhabi Bank and Raja Easa Al Gurg of Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group are ranked 1 and 2, respectively, on Forbes Middle East’s ranking of ‘The Middle East’s 100 Most Powerful Businesswomen 2023’.

The ranking celebrates business titans from 27 different nationalities across 27 sectors. Emirati and Egyptian women dominate the list, with 15 and 12 entries, respectively. They are followed by Saudi with 11 entries, Kuwait with eight, and Lebanon, Oman, and Qatar with six each. Leaders working in the banking and financial services make up 23 of the 100 entries. Diversified conglomerates and the investments industry follow with 11 and eight women, respectively.

Hana Al Rostamani, Group CEO of the First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), climbed two spots to land first place this year. In June 2022, FAB completed a merger with Bank Audi Egypt under the umbrella of FABMISR, making it one of the largest foreign banks in Egypt, with assets worth $10 billion as of March 2022.

Raja Easa Al Gurg, Chairperson and Managing Director of Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, and Lubna S. Olayan, Chair of the Saudi British Bank and Chair of the Executive Committee and Deputy Chair of Olayan Financing Company, rounded up the top three. NBK’s Sheikha Khaled Al Bahar ranks first in Kuwait and fourth regionally. Al Rostamani and Al Gurg were also both recognised on Forbes’ 2022 list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.

Three industry disruptors entered the top 10 for the first time: Shaista Asif, Cofounder and Group COO of PureHealth Group; Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Managing Director of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC); and Wadha Ahmed Al Khateeb, CEO of the Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC). Half of the top 10 ranked women work within the banking and financial services industry.

Many of the businesswomen on this year’s ranking are placing significant importance on education and empowerment initiatives. The Apparel Group, led by Founder and Chairwoman Sima Ganwani Ved, launched its Digital Learning Academy in October to offer bilingual courses in the GCC. Rawya Mansour, Founder and Chairwoman of RAMSCO, spearheaded a partnership with the National Council for Women to empower women in Africa through an organic farming project and entrepreneurs’ initiative for zero-waste eco-villages. And Hind Bahwan, Founder and Chairperson of Bahwan CyberTek Group, signed an MoU with Dubai’s Heriot-Watt University to offer internships and deep work immersions to students to tackle the growing demand for emerging technologies like AI, ML, and IoT.

Top 10 most powerful businesswomen in the Middle East, 2023
1. Hana Al Rostamani | Nationality: Emirati | Group CEO, FAB
2. Raja Easa Al Gurg | Nationality: Emirati | Chairperson & Managing Director, Easa Saleh Al Gurg (ESAG)
3. Lubna S. Olayan | Nationality: Saudi | Chair of Saudi British Bank; Chair of the Executive Committee and Deputy Chair of Olayan Financing Company
4. Shaikha Khaled Al Bahar | Nationality: Kuwaiti | Deputy Group CEO, National Bank of Kuwait Group
5. Renuka Jagtiani | Nationality: Indian | Chairwoman, Landmark Group
6. Wadha Ahmed Al Khateeb | Nationality: Kuwaiti | CEO, Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC)
7. Sarah Al Suhaimi | Nationality: Saudi | Chairperson, Saudi Tadawul Group
8. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari | Nationality: Qatari | Managing Director, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC)
9. Shaista Asif | Nationality: Pakistani | Cofounder & Group COO, PureHealth Group
10. Randa Sadik | Nationality: Jordanian | CEO, Arab Bank