Women in MENA are increasingly taking on leading roles within the region’s largest enterprises, but they are also establishing their own successful businesses in rising numbers, with operations in all sectors of the economy. Some of these businesses are garnering international attention, with some arguably shaping the sectors they perform in.
Forbes Middle East’s list of 30 Women Behind Middle Eastern Brands features brands across six countries in MENA. The U.A.E. is home to 13 of these successful businesses, followed by Egypt with eight and Lebanon with five. The list also represents 18 different nationalities, with Egyptians dominating the list with 11 entries, followed by Lebanese with four entries. Some of these brands are now international labels appearing at the world’s most anticipated events, such Rayan Al Sulaimani’s Atelier Zuhra, who dressed Paris Hilton at the 2022 Grammys. Huda Kattan was also recognized on Forbes’ list of America’s Self-Made Women 2021.
Our list of 20 Women Behind Middle Eastern Tech Brands highlights the female founders and cofounders of some of the region’s most successful tech-enabled platforms and apps. This year’s ranking highlights a diverse group of people from 17 different nationalities working in 13 sectors, whose businesses are predominantly based in the U.A.E. with 13 entries, followed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, each being home to two of these companies. Some of these companies are leading the startup ecosystem in MENA, such as Rita Huang Zhen’s iMile for delivery services, whose company was also the ninth most-funded startup in the region in 2021. Others, such as Mona Ataya and Leena Khalil of Mumzworld and Anuscha Ahmed Iqbal of Spotii, have successfully led some of MENA’s most significant exit deals in 2021.
To create this ranking, companies and brands had to be based in MENA. We took into consideration the following criteria:
• Celebrities that have endorsed the brand.
• Number of countries the brand is present in.
• Number of social media followers.
• Media coverage.
• Years of experience.
• For tech brands, the amount of external funding received and revenues.
• Editorial points.