Three Arab Women Are on This Year’s Forbes’s List of World’s Most Powerful Women

Forbes has revealed its list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2017, with three of Forbes Middle East’s most powerful Arab women in business and politics making the cut.

The UAE had two women placed in the top 100, with UAE’s Minister of Tolerance Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi making no.36; Al Qasimi took first place in the Most Powerful Arab Women in Government 2017. Raja Easa Al Gurg, Managing Director of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group in the UAE was placed 90th in the list of the most powerful women in the world. Saudi national, Lubna S. Olayan, is the world’s 59th most powerful woman.

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi

2008 Global Leadership Awards

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi is a trailblazer who has fired the ambitions and aspirations of a generation of women in the United Arab Emirates, and the Gulf with her meteoric success story. Because not only is the US-educated Sheikha Lubna the first woman in the Emirates to hold a ministerial post, she is also the first woman in the region to have successfully led the male-dominated Ministry of Economy and Planning, she is also the first to start a Middle Eastern B2B online marketplace, which is now one of Dubai World’s most successful business units with franchises across the Middle East. And over the years, she moved from Economy and Planning to Foreign Trade, International Cooperation and then the curiously named ‘Minister of Tolerance’ before stepping down a couple of weeks back.

Listed by Forbes every year in the past decade for her dynamism and achievements, in 2016 she made it to number 43 on the list of the most powerful women in the world, and this year she was ranked the most powerful Arab woman in governance. The former minister, who is a member of Sharjah’s ruling family, joined the UAE Cabinet in 2004 as Minister of Economic and Planning, and also worked as Minister of State for International Cooperation.

Sheikha Lubna is the first Emirati to receive the Clinton Global Citizen Award and was behind the world’s first tolerance chapter last year. She is also a passionate advocate for women’s rights, saying this February that she was focused on putting the country at the forefront in this area.

Lubna S. Olayan

FILE PHOTO: Lubna S. Olayan, Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Chairperson, Olayan Financing Company attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos



Saudi national, Lubna S. Olayan, is the world’s 59th most powerful woman. She serves as the CEO of the business conglomerate Olayan Financing Group, which has businesses spread across the Middle East. The company distributes consumer goods, hospital supplies, office automation products, building supplies, telecommunications equipment and industrial goods. Olayan also sits on the group’s board, alongside her brother and two sisters.

In 2004 Olayan became the first woman to serve on the board of Alawwal Bank (the Saudi Hollandi Bank).

Raja Easa Al Gurg


Number three on the list, Raja Easa Al Gurg is the Managing Director of the eponymous Al Gurg Group. The Group is one of the oldest family firms in the UAE, having existed for around 50 years. Raja Easa Al Gurg took over the conglomerate in 1990. It operates 28 companies and has 370 partnerships with multinationals such as Unilever, British American Tobacco, and Siemens. She is the 90th most powerful woman in the world.

According to Forbes, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the Most Powerful Woman in the World this year for the seventh consecutive year and 12 times in total. She’s followed by U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May at number two and Melinda Gates at number three. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and GM CEO Mary Barra round out the top five.