Many experts might say that a list of the Arab world’s most powerful women was long overdue. In 2011, CEO Middle East magazine published its inaugural rankings. The response was astonishing.
As a result, when the second annual list was published at the beginning of March, ITP Executive held a gala event at the Emirates Towers hotel in Dubai to celebrate.
The star-studded line-up was led by Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the UAE’s minister for foreign trade, who took first place on the list and gave a keynote speech.
Further glamour was lent by the presence of the Lebanese pop diva Elissa, who was joined by a host of other women representing virtually every Middle Eastern country.
From fashion to art, from singers to style icons, and from bankers to construction magnates, the packed-out event was lauded as a sterling success.
In addition, five extra awards were handed out to commemorate exceptional contributions in particular fields.
1. Outstanding Contribution to the Arts
Her Highness Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum
The winner is the founder of Tashkeel, a new concept that aims to provide a dynamic environment in Dubai where artists can gather to create, attend workshops, interact and, of course, showcase their pieces. The success of Tashkeel — which has won a huge following — stems from Sheikha Latifa’s dedication to the flourishing multicultural arts scene in Dubai.
2. Outstanding Contribution to Science
Professor Ilham Al Qaradawi
Over the past decade, Ilham Al Qaradawi, a professor of nuclear physics, has been instrumental in establishing a positron laboratory at Qatar University, and successfully built the first variable slow positron beam in the Middle East. She is also hoping to link her department’s work closely with CERN — the world-famous European Organisation for Nuclear Research.
3. Outstanding Contribution to Humanitarian Causes
HE Sarah Shuhail
Sarah Shuhail is an Emirati national who set up a shelter for the victims of human trafficking in the UAE five years ago. Her charity, Ewa’a Shelters, provides temporary shelter for up to 30 women and children, and funds their psychological, medical and legal assistance, as well as helping them with their rehabilitation. The charity has benefited from a $270,000 donation from Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, the widow of His Highness Sheikh Zayed.
4. Outstanding Contribution to Sports
Two years ago, Elham Qasimi made her way across 120 kilometres of some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet. On a typical day, she skied for an average of eight hours, with a ten-minute break every two hours to cook her own food and rest. Despite incredible hardship, she finally reached her goal – becoming the first Arab woman (and the first Emirati) to ski unassisted to the North Pole.
5. Outstanding Contribution to Medicine
Hayat Sindi was awarded a PhD from the University of Cambridge, and has been credited with the invention of a sensor that combines the use of light and sound for use in biotechnology. She is the co-founder of Diagnostics for All — an organisation that is developing cheaper tools for diagnosing diseases for those in the developing world — and is also a fellow at PopTech, a US-based non-profit organisation that offers fellowships to young inventors.