International Women’s Day: Find out more about the most influential women in Middle East retail


March 8, 2021 | By Shruthi Nair

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Name: Mouna Abbassy

Company: izil

Designation: CEO

The creative force behind izil, Mouna Abbassy started her company in 2013 after a successful marketing career in multinational companies in Dubai. Fueled by the passion and knowledge from her rich Moroccan culture, Mouna started off with selling beauty products on Facebook pages and exhibitions in the UAE. The demand quickly grew enough for her to open a kiosk in Dubai Festival City. Between 2014 and 2016, izil opened 6 kiosks and later launched an e-commerce website. As sales sky rockted, izil opened up its own GMP certified manufacturing facility in Ras Al Khaimah in 2019. A year later, Mouna finally took the plunge and launched a rebranded, high-end flagship store in Dubai Mall, which now also houses izil’s own deluxe spa.

 

Name: Mariam Abdelghani

Company: Mamzi

Designation: Founder

Building on a childhood passion of fashion design from the age of eight, in 2014, Mariam Abdelghany founded Mamzi, a ready-to-wear clothing brand. With her creative concepts and eye for detail, Abdelghany manifests originality in each of her collections, building a strong brand name in the local as well as the International fashion industry. Proudly an Egyptian brand, all products are designed and produced locally.

 

Name: Isobel Abulhoul

Company: Magrudy’s

Designation: Co-founder

Isobel Abulhoul co-founded Magrudy’s, a bookshop chain, in 1975. In addition to Magrudy’s, she also co-founded Jerboa Books, a publishing company which produces children’s books in Arabic and English. Following a chance conversation and the support of Emirates Airline, she founded and directed the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the Middle East’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word, from its inception until 2019. In 2013, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and also the Festival patron, issued a Decree forming the Emirates Literature Foundation, naming Abulhoul as one of the trustees on the Board. She is also a Trustee of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction Board, Secretary General of the Kalimat Foundation and a member of the Supreme Committee for the Year of Tolerance.

 

Name: Salwa Idrissi Akkannouch

Company: AKSAL Group

Designation: Founder and CEO

Salwa Idrissi Akkannouch is one of the most powerful businesspersons in Morocco, having founded AKSAL group in 1994, which operates 45 global brands including Fendi, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Zara, Massimo Dutti. In 2004, the company signed franchise contracts with international groups leaders in Retail, Luxury, Culture and Technology and in 2009, the group initiated the construction of one of the biggest destination malls in Africa and the Mediterranean. In 2017, she launched her beauty and cosmetics brand Yan & One, which is credited to be the first-of-its-kind Beauty Smartstore.

 

Name: Nada Alawi

Company: Annada

Designation: Founder

In 2011, Nada founded “ANNADA”, a luxury lifestyle brand that transforms art into fashion accessories and apparel with her sister Noor Alawi in partnership with Middle Eastern artists. Having started with their main line of luxury silk scarves, Annada has expanded over the years to include winter scarves, as well as, beautifully crafted belts and buckles, leather jackets, jewelry and stationary products, and apparel always aiming to share ART with the world. Today, Bahrain based ANNADA’s products are sold across the GCC’s top department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue Middle-East, niche independent fashion stores, museums, art galleries and the ANNADA flagship store at Seef Mall.

 

Name: Raja and Muna Al Gurg

Company: Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group

Designation: Group Managing Director and Director of Retail

Dr Raja Easa Al Gurg is the Vice President and Managing Director of Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, a multidivisional conglomerate with 27 companies. She is a well-known businesswoman in the Middle East, who has carved a niche for herself in the region due to her support and encouragement of Arab women entrepreneurs. She is the President of Dubai Business Women Council, Board member of the Dubai Chamber Of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) and Dubai Women’s Association. In 2020, Dr Raja Al Gurg was awarded the Legion of Honor, Chevalier (Knight) by President of France Emmanuel Macron, in appreciation of her outstanding efforts in strengthening the exceptional partnership between France and the UAE.

Muna Easa Al Gurg is the Director of Retail of Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group. Muna is a passionate advocate of providing more opportunities for women in business. In 2015, she launched the Muna Al Gurg Scholarship at London Business School, supporting female students studying in the school’s MBA and Executive MBA programme.

She is on the board of several non-profit organisations, such as the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development where she works closely with its Chairman, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed AlNahyan.

At the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Charity Foundation, she is responsible for strategy and initiatives both in the UAE and internationally. She is a member of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Sustainability Board, which is mandated to provide innovative and sustainable solutions to refugees in the MENA region. Finally, she is a founding board member of Endeavor UAE, a non-profit organisation promoting high-impact entrepreneurship in emerging and growth markets.

 

Name: Heba Al Fazari

Company: Coveti

Designation: Founder and CEO

Apart from being an entrepreneur, Heba Al Fazari is a former diplomat, the first Emirati offshore engineer and author of “Politics of fashion: The Global Sourcing Hacks Every Fashion Designers Need”. With Coveti, the first fintech enabled luxury marketplace dedicated to next generation fashion designers in MENA, she has set out on a journey to support the new wave of the next big name in fashion that would otherwise remain unheard and undiscovered.

With the commitment to community, she joined Pledge 1%, a corporate philanthropy movement dedicated to making the community a key stakeholder in every business. Pledge 1% empowers companies to donate 1% of product, 1% of equity, 1% of profit or 1% of employee time to improve communities around the world.

 

Name: Amna Al Habtoor

Company: Arcadia by Amna

Designation: Founder

Established in 2018, Arcadia stands out among other brands in the region for creating cruelty, paraben and chemical free unisex scents. Amna manages and directs the overall imagery and design of the brand, from photo shoots to brand profiles to packaging. She is also involved in the day-to-day tasks and overall vision of the company and plans to take it global.

 

Name: Huda Al Rostamani

Company: AW Rostamani

Designation: Managing Director

Huda Abdul Wahid Al Rostamani has been the managing director and board member of AW Rostamani Group since 2007. She oversees new business development and business turnaround functions across group’s diverse portfolio that comprises of automotive, real estate, and investments. In 2016, she co-founded the lifestyle e-commerce brand, Apartment51, that provides a diverse selection of international furniture, designer homeware décor and home accessories brands.

 

Name: Amal Al Raisi

Company: Dar Al Aseel

Designation: Owner and Fashion Designer

Born and raised in Oman, Amal Al Raisi launched her fashion label in 2007 and opened her first multi-brand boutique, Dar Al Aseel, in Muscat in 2010. With the aim to fuse tradition with modernity, her boutique houses her collections as well as a curated selection of regional designers. Her collections are now available at a number of high-end retailers in the Middle East and beyond representing the talent of the region.

 

Name: Ioanna Angelidaki

Company: Instashop

Designation: Co-founder and CMO

Ioanna co-founded grocery shopping app, Instashop, in 2015, which is now available in 6 countries as one of the leading on-demand marketplace apps in the region. She has prior experience in the startup industry, co-founding Vound, a voice social application, along with John (Co-founder & CEO of InstaShop). This endeavor might not have had successful results but through it both Ioanna & John gained experience on the startup industry. In 2020 InstaShop was acquired by Delivery Hero, the Berlin-based global takeaway giant, for a whopping US$360 million, making it one of the region’s largest acquisitions.

 

Name: Christine Assouad

Company: Dunkin Donuts Lebanon and Semsom

Designation: CEO

Christine Assouad launched Dunkin’ Donuts in Lebanon almost two decades ago and continues to serve as CEO. She also worked with Dunkin’ Donuts in many international markets including Germany, Italy, Egypt, Syria and Jordan. In 2008, she launched Semsom, a traditional Lebanese restaurant with a modern twist. With branches in Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Muscat and Cairo, Assouad aims to spread Lebanese cuisine all over the region and the world.

 

Name: Mona Ataya

Company: Mumzworld

Designation: CEO and Founder

Mona founded in Mumzworld, a revolutionary e-commerce platform for all things mother, baby and child back in 2011 and since then, the brand has reached more than 2.5 million mothers across the region.  Under her leadership, Mumzworld has successfully established itself as the regional leader in this vertical. With 5 rounds of funding, great investors on board and a solid business plan, Mumzworld has become one of the most prominent funded women-led e-commerce company in the Middle East. She was also a co-founding member of bayt.com, a Middle East based job portal

 

Name: Amal Suhail Bahwan

Company: Suhail Bahwan Group

Designation: Vice Chairperson

Amal Bahwan is the managing director and vice chairperson of one of the largest business organisations in Oman that has a diversified portfolio encompassing automobiles, electronics, travel, lifestyle and healthcare among others. Apart from driving growth, innovation and success for the conglomerate set up by her father, she is also the chairperson of the National Bank of Oman,

 

Name: Anita Baker

Company: Lush MENA

Designation: Managing Director

Anita Baker joined Lush UK in 2007 as a group cccountant and was quickly promoted to the International Business Development team. Her financial acumen helped her played a crucial role in selecting new business partners, country openings, and potential commercial opportunities. Since 2010, Anita has been responsible for the MENA region, managing the Lush-owned operations in the UAE and Bahrain and the business development of the region. With 40+ shops across KSA, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, UAE and Bahrain, her role involves all parts of the business from branding & PR, property strategy and negotiations and managing relationships and standards with the MENA licensee partners.

 

Name: Emma Banks

Company: Hilton

Designation: Vice President F&B Strategy and Development

A seasoned hospitality executive with international experience in a variety of channels, operating platforms and ownership styles, Emma Banks is the now the vice president F&B strategy and development at Hilton. She overseas concept and product solution development, sourcing and management of third party restaurant brand, and operator relationships across EMEA. Previously, she was the managing director of JRG Dubai and was overseeing the group’s brand portfolio of more than 20 food & beverage venues and international franchises, spearheading the company’s long-term commercial strategy.

In December 2020, Emma was elected a Member of the Board of Governors and Member of the Board of the Academic Committee of Dubai College of Tourism (DCT).  She is also an advisor on the campaign to make Dubai one of the top gastronomic culinary destinations in the world.

 

Name: Nadine Banchaffai

Company: Taqado Mexican Kitchen

Designation: Co-founder and Managing Partner

Nadine founded Taqado Mexican Kitchen in the UAE in 2012, followed by Park House Cafe and Nutri-Bowl concepts and in 2020 she the created the group holding company, Abfab Foods. Abfab Foods went on to merge with Radius Group to further expand its portfolio to include Circle Cafe and Sushi Counter and despite pandemic woes, went on to recently launch Earth Kitchen, Katsu & Co and Burritos Beyond Borders.  Nadine is also an active investor in other start-ups and a member of the LBS Enterprise 100.

 

Name: Ingie Chalhoub

Company: Etoile Group

Designation: Founder and Managing Director

Business woman, creative designer, fashion innovator and philanthropist Ingie Chalhoub created Etoile Group when she opened her first ever Chanel boutique in the region.

Etoile Group has grown to become one of the highest profile names across the Middle East’s retail market. Over the last 25 years, Ingie has built a strong presence in the UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Lebanon.

Specializing in bringing luxury brands to the Middle East, she has firmly established the group within the luxury fashion market. Etoile group operates many different pillars in partnership with Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Valentino, TOD’s and Aquazzura, as well as her own multi-brand stores Etoile “La Boutique” and her label INGIE Paris.

Ingie is also involved in many humanitarian activities actively supporting research in breast cancer as an ambassador for the Pink Caravan organisation and the 10KSA project. She is also a founding member of the UNICEF Leadership Circle, Gulf Region.

 

Name: Kate Christou

Company: Lowe Dubai

Designation: Co-founder

Kate is one half of the duo which set up the hugely popular LOWE restaurant in KOA Canvas. She is currently working as both a chef and F&B Director for NOA Hospitality Group, as well as the Operations Manager of Nasab Dubai, a private workspace and social club. With her knowledge of the food industry and interest in the environment, Kate’s career has spanned across food journalism, volunteer projects and work for non-profit organizations aiding development of sustainable agriculture.

 

Name: Areej and Lujaina Darwish

Company: Mohsin Haider Darwish LLC

Designation: Chairpersons

Areej Mohsin Darwish joined MHD LLC in 1994 and has worked her way up to the position she currently holds. One of her many responsibilities include providing strategic direction to the automotive divisions. She has managed the vertical to a leadership position in the luxury car segment having recently acquired McLaren. Apart from that, she has also launched two other business segments – Blessing, a chocolate and gift shop, and First Impression Artwork.

Lujaina Mohsin Darwish is the chairperson of infrastructure, technology, industrial & consumer solutions at MHD as well as an elected member of Oman’s consultative council – Majlis A’ Shuraa. She is an inspiration to many Omani women entrepreneurs and corporate leaders and is on the Board of the Advisory Committee for The National Program for Leadership & Competitiveness and a member of the Working Team of Partnership between the Public and Private Sectors at the Diwan of Royal Court.

 

Name: Vandana Datar

Company: Al Adil Trading

Designation: Financial Director

With complete control over the expenditure and a clear mandate to increase the profitability, Vandana Datar plays a key role in maximising revenue for the company. She believes that financial management plays a very crucial role in the success of any organisation and it is important to ensure that there is a fine balance between maximising return, procurement at the right price and providing customers with value for money products. Al Adil Trading is a known retailer specializing in spices and herbs with 34 outlets in the GCC and India.

 

Name: Candice D’Cruz

Company: Marriott International

Designation: Vice President, Luxury Brand Marketing & Management

A luxury specialist with over 18 years of international experience in hospitality and real estate, Candice D’Cruz is currently responsible for developing and leading the luxury brand portfolio of Marriott International, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Candice started her career with leading agencies like Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and Weber Shandwick. Following this she honed her regional experience at EMAAR where she led the marketing and communications for the launch of the Burj Khalifa and the world’s first Armani hotel, both of which garnered international acclaim.

 

Name: Azza Fahmy

Company: Azza Fahmy Jewellery

Designation: Creative Director and Chairwoman

Azza Fahmy is an Egyptian businesswoman who is known for her unique approach to both design and research, as well as craftsmanship preservation. From being a solopreneur who started the company in 1969, she is now leading a strategically structured organisation comprising of more than 200 employees, that is able to grow steadily in competitive markets including the Middle East and Europe.

 

Name: Maria Gedeon

Company: Majid Al Futtaim Leisure, Entertainment and Cinemas

Designation: Marketing Director

A destination marketing executive with over 15 years of experience, Maria currently oversees the marketing and communications strategy, customer experience, and customer analytics for VOX Cinemas, Ski Dubai, Magic Planet, Dreamscape, Yalla Bowling, iFLY Dubai, Little Explorers as well as the food and beverage portfolio.

She began her career in 2002 by founding and managing Select one of the most established staffing companies in the region. She moved to the UAE in 2006 to work on the World Future Energy Summit. She was then appointed as Director of Marketing and Communications at Zayed Sports City before joining Majid Al Futtaim.

 

Name: Maz Hakim

Company: Espand

Designation: Founder

Radio presenter Maz, recently launched her own clothing line, Espand By Maz which is a fusion of east and west using handmade Afghan material from Afghanistan. The brand pays homage to her family’s refugee journey from Afghanistan to Australia. The sustainable clothing is made with love by women in the UAE and is sold on her e-commerce channel Espandbymaz.com, on Instagram as well as in Bloomingdales Dubai Mall.

 

Name: Julianne Holt-Kailihiwa

Company: Sumo International Inc.

Designation: President and CEO

Julianne joined Sumo International in 2000 and worked her way up the ranks to be appointed president in 2014. Prior to joining the food and beverage industry, she has worked in a variety of roles including construction and web programming. She is known for supporting the teams on a busy Friday night and when a big rush hits, she doesn’t hesitate to jump in to dish washing if needed.

 

Name: Shinsi Ibrahim

Company: DOCIB

Designation: CEO

Founded in 2000, DOCIB Healthcare had a modest beginning with the launch of Lulu Center Pharmacy in Lulu Hypermarket, Dubai. It rapidly expanded its network of pharmacies, polyclinics, and nutrition centers across the UAE, over a period time. Shinsi took charge of the company in 2015 and in 2017, she rebranded it with a new logo, as it was previously under the Lulu brand.  Today it is one of the leading pharmacy retailers in the UAE with over 30 outlets. Apart from the pharmacies, Shinsi also runs the DOCIB Clinic and its nutrition centers.

 

Name: Hiba Jaber

Company: Hiba Jaber Jewelry

Designation: Creative Director and Founder

Born in Morrocco, Hiba Jaber turned her passion for jewellery making and design into a successful business that was launched in 2017 after completing a foundation degree in art & design, and a bachelor’s degree in fashion management at the London College of Fashion. Hiba Jaber Jewelry is a contemporary fine jewellery brand that fuses traditional jewellery with innovative technologies with emphasis given to personalisation.

 

Name: Renuka Jagtiani

Company: Landmark Group

Designation: Chairwoman

Chairperson of the largest non-food retailer in the Middle East, Renuka has guided the group’s corporate strategy and grown the fashion and hospitality businesses for the last 25 years. Renuka played a key role in creating the high-street fashion brand Splash in 1993 and has since worked hard and smart to build a conglomerate that operates more than 2300 outlets across 22 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and India.

In her current role, Renuka oversees all retail and hospitality operations, leading strategic growth through expansion into new markets and driving the group’s CSR initiatives.

Under her leadership the group forayed into e-commerce and invested in the MENA region’s largest privately-owned logistics and distribution hub, with a vision to reach the customers, no matter where they shop.

 

Name: Halima Jumani

Company: Kibsons

Designation: Director

Halima has been part of Kibons for over 10 years and today she oversees all finance and operations for the company. She is responsible for a team of 1,000 across the business and manages over 5,000 daily orders. Halima is firmly committed to sourcing products that are good for consumers and is passionate about supporting local businesses with more than 75 local brands currently on the Kibsons website.

Halima also created 400 new jobs, increased pay for her employees and gave a 40% bonus for the overtime hours worked during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the CSR front, Kibsons have raised and donated AED 100,000 to Gulf for Good and are constantly donating to worthwhile causes including Red Cross Lebanon.

 

Name: Shibi Kabeer

Company: Babystore.ae

Designation: Founder

Shibi Kabeer’s tryst with  entrepreneurship began in 2011, when she decided to  quit the corporate world and start her own Fire Safety Company in Dubai along with her husband. In 2018, she started her journey as Chiefmum of babystore.ae which is a platform dedicated to everything mum and baby. In just two years, she has been able to build babystore.ae as one of the leading e-commerce  portals in the UAE, committed to quality and consumer engagement. Today, babystore.com seeks to expand further within the UAE and the GCC markets.

 

Name: Huda Kattan

Company: Huda Beauty

Designation: Founder and Chairwoman

Huda is one of the most influential leaders in the beauty industry globally, who started her entrepreneurial journey in 2013, with the launch of what is now one of the world’s fastest growing beauty brands, Huda Beauty. The brand has since had several record-breaking launches globally, with products now available worldwide on hudabeauty.com as well as retailers including, Sephora, Sephora in JC Penney, Harrods, Selfridges, and Cult Beauty.

A lifelong passion for beauty lead Huda to enroll at a prestigious makeup training school in Los Angeles, cultivating a roster of clientele including A-list celebrities and a royal family. What started off as a beauty blog, hudabeauty.com, is now a massively successful e-commerce platform selling a range of products including liquid and cream lipsticks, lip contouring pencils, full complexion line, textured eyeshadow palettes and mascara, many of which have been instant best-sellers across the globe.

With 47 million followers on Instagram, 4.1 million subscribers on YouTube, and a brand that has been smashing records in the Middle East and the US, Huda Kattan is one of the most influential entrepreneurs from this region.

 

Name: Neelam Keswani

Company: Glamazle

Designation: Managing Director

Neelam Keswani started her career with UAE’s popular ‘Buy One Get One Free’ concept, The ENTERTAINER. She then moved on to Gulf Technical, working on coupon loyalty programmes and eventually founded Cobone.com. Her most recent stint was with ALshop.com where she grew the business up to 400%. Currently, combining her love for makeup and business acumen, Keswani runs her own online beauty and fashion store, Glamazle.com, which offers its customers more than 300 brands to choose from.

 

Name: Kate Kikano

Company: TKD Lingerie

Designation: Managing Director

Kate Kikano, founded TKD Lingerie in March 2012. It is the only boutique in the Middle East specialising in D-K cup bras, swimwear and nightwear. With branches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, they also offer Virtual Fittings via WhatsApp and video conference, alongside a home fitting service, so that women can purchase through their recently launched online store. In the past Kate was professionally fitted by Bravissimo in England – the largest UK lingerie retailer catering for women with a larger cup.

 

Name: Alia Khan

Company: Islamic Fashion Design Council

Designation: Founder and Chairwoman

Alia Khan is the Founder and Chairwoman of Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC), an organization established for the development of the Islamic fashion and design industry worldwide. In record time, Alia has rapidly brought IFDC to being the world’s leading fashion and design (art, architecture, interiors, etc.) organization representing the Islamic economy and its stakeholders.

 

Name: Malvika Khimji

Company: Board of Director

Designation: Khimji Ramdas

A Law Graduate from the University of Westminster, Malvika was the first female member of Oman’s renowned Khimji family to be inducted as a Director. She received her first grounding, at the Procter & Gamble warehouse learning the rigors of distribution and then subsequently, in the sales and marketing function. As Director, Malvika oversees the Projects & Logistics cluster of the Khimji Ramdas Group, which includes shipping, multimodal logistics, travel & tourism and several other related businesses.

 

Name: Butheina Kazim

Company: Cinema Akil

Designation: Co-founder

Butheina Kazim is the co-founder of Cinema Akil – the first arthouse cinema in Dubai and the Gulf region. Launched in 2014 as a nomadic cinema, Cinema Akil has held over 60 pop-up cinemas attracting over 35,000 attendees in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. In September 2018, Cinema Akil opened its first permanent location in Al Quoz, Dubai making it the GCC’s first arthouse cinema. Kazim has been involved in programming cinema pop-ups, including Abu Dhabi Film Festival at The Pavilion and a Focus on the UAE programme at the Short Film Week (Kurzfilmwoche) in Regensburg, Germany.

 

Name: Stevi Lowmass

Company: Camel Soap Factory

Designation: Founder

A former IT industry veteran, Stevi became interested in the idea of creating a business involving personal care products in 2005. A trip to Australia in 2008 when she visited an olive oil soap factory and time spent studying soap making with Melinda Coss in London (author of The Handmade Soap), introduced her to using camel milk as an alternative to the traditional laurel oil. Seeing a gap in the market for a locally produced product for the many tourists that the UAE sees each year, led Stevi to create something unique for the UAE – a soap bar made from camel milk. What began as a home business in 2011 has flourished into an operation based out of Dubai Silicon Oasis that is capable of producing more than 100,000 bars of soap each month and is also an official Expo 2020 Licensee.

 

Name: Cherine Magrabi

Company: Magrabi Opticals

Designation: Marketing Communications and Creative Director

With more than 150 stores across 5 countries, and with 20 hospitals, Magrabi has established itself as the leaders in eye care for almost a century. However, it was in 2016 that Cherine Magrabi, along with her brother relaunched Magrabi’s retail network repositioning its stores as the region’s go-to destination for fashion eyewear.

 

Name: Siobhan McCarthy

Company: BinDawood Holding

Designation: Chief Communications Officer

Siobhan leads all group corporate communications efforts for BinDawood Holding, the leading retailer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As a communications consultant, Siobhan has over 15 years of experience creating and implementing multi-market communication strategies. She was appointed chief communications officer for BinDawood Holding in early 2020 and led communications efforts for the company’s successful IPO on Tadawul(Saudi Stock Exchange) in October 2020. Prior to joining BinDawood Holding, she was chief communications officer for AYM Commerce, which helped launch and manage the leading ecommerce grocery platform, Danube Online, in partnership with BinDawood Holding.

 

Name: Fatma Meheni

Comapany: Zolizola

Designation: Founder

Fatma Meheni is an entrepreneur and founder of Zolizola, an Algerian e-commerce platform specialized in baby products. She started her career in the media industry working as a field reporter, news anchor and TV host of her own program. She launched www.zolizola.com on June 1, 2020, offering concrete solutions to Algerian parents in times of pandemic.

With 38,000 subscribers on social media and a 50% month-on-month revenue growth, Zolizola has come a fair way in a short span of time. Fatma’s ambition is to transform her platform into a reference in the childcare sector in Algeria, and to expand in Africa.

 

Name: Alisha Moopen

Company: Aster DM Healthcare

Designation: Deputy Managing Director

Alisha Moopen is the deputy managing director of Aster DM Healthcare, managing the company’s operations in India and the GCC. Having joined the company as a director in 2013, she is responsible for overseeing the strategic direction and development of the company, and notably spearheading the expansion of the group into new markets. Aster DM Healthcare is one of the largest integrated healthcare conglomerate with a presence across 7 countries. The organisation currently employs more than 21,250 people, of which 2900+ are doctors and 6200+ are nursing staff.

Her aim is to enable quality healthcare across the globe and is dedicated to the cause of women empowerment and mental health. She was instrumental in launching the Women in Leadership programme at Aster DM Healthcare which empowers talented and capable female employees with training and growth opportunities, to shape them for leadership roles.

 

Name: Usha Pagarani

Company: Al Maya Supermarkets

Designation: Partner

46 year old single mother, Usha Pagarani started her career in 1998 on the sales floor, opening and closing the doors of Lamcy Plaza, the first department store her father had co-owned in partnership with her uncle. Six years later, she worked up the ranks to become the director of Al Maya group, where she helped execute a wide array of operational lines and business expansion efforts within the UAE & GCC. Today, Al Maya has 90+ stores, with clientele of all nationalities and cultures.

 

Name: Dr. Siama Qadar

Company: Hybella

Designation: Founder and CEO

Entrepreneur and curator Dr. Siama Qadar launched the Hybella Group that specialises in Hybella (women’s fashion), Hybello (men’s fashion), Hybella Academy (modelling) and The Fashion Show Project, which is an elaborate exclusive open – and closed-door fashion shows in the Middle East region in 2019. She also founded the Institute of Modern Etiquette and is a founding board member for a fashion council in United Kingdom. The group supplies and sell glamorous clothing through its e-commerce site, online retail stores & direct from the factory.

 

Name: Madiha Raslan

Company: Darling’s Touch

Designation: Owner

While Darling’s Touch was founded in 1966 as a fashion jewellery store in Beirut, Madiha Raslan relaunched the business in 2002 with a new team of designers and craftswomen. In 2003, she had created a new company to manufacture and promote Darling’s products in Lebanon and all over the Middle East. She now supplies her products to major department stores in the region such as Harvey Nichols in Dubai, Villa Moda in Kuwait and Syria, Salam Stores in UAE, Beirut Duty Free and has a strong e-commerce presence.

Raslan is also the president of the Women Leaders Council of Lebanon and a major shareowner and CEO of Trends International Franchising Company.

 

Name: Hind Abdul Hamied Seddiqi

Company: Seddiqi Holding

Designation: Chief Marketing and Communications officer

A third generation member of the Seddiqi family, Hind is responsible for developing integrated marketing strategies for each business unit within the group, as well as internal and external executive communication tactics and plans. Hind also leads the Customer Experience (CX) communications for all business units, including Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons and Seddiqi Properties. She has played an instrumental role in re-structuring the company’s marketing department. Her passion and expertise in the watch industry led her to establish the Dubai Watch Week in 2015, a global non-commercial platform dedicated to the preservation of watchmaking culture and heritage. She is also a member of the rising talents circle for the Global Women Forum and is a founder of the AMSI Voices programme, mentoring students and helping them prepare for the future.

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Name: Sian Rowlands

Company: RETOLD

Designation: Founder and Chief Storyteller

Sian is one of the many forces bringing sustainable fashion and ‘resale’ into the spotlight. She launched My Ex Wardrobe in 2011 after recognising a gap in the market regionally and conceptualising a way to fill it. In 2017, the next chapter in the story started following a trek to Everest Base Camp, after which she rebranded the concept to RETOLD. In January 2018, RETOLD celebrated the opening of its flagship boutique subsequently followed by its popular e-commerce arm www.shopretold.com

 

Name: Sima Ved

Company: Apparel Group

Designation: Founder and Chairwoman

Sima Ganwani Ved, whose entrepreneurial journey started at the age of 23 with one retail store, is the founder and chairwoman of Apparel group, one of the largest retailers in the Middle East based out of the UAE. The company is home to 75+ brands with over 1,750 stores in 14 countries employing more than 16,000 people. She is also the vice chair of the newly formed AppCorp, the holding company that has Apparel group, 6thStreet.com, Indus real estate, Harley Medical Centre and Major Brands in India. She is an active member of organisations like YPO and serves on their regional board. Her compassion for underprivileged children led her to mentoring her teenage daughter to launch her own Athleisure brand, the profits of which will go towards the education of such kids. Sima has also sat on the board of Children’s Hope Foundation (CHF). Empowerment of women is a cause close to her heart and one she hopes to focus on in the coming years.

 

Name: Elena Weber

Company: Icons Coffee Couture

Designation: CEO and Founder

The German University Graduate and Ex-Model, turned Entrepreneur, Elena Weber is the CEO and Founder of the lifestyle coffee chain Icons Coffee Couture, a health conscious lifestyle coffee shop chain. The chain is currently present in the GCC with 20+ branches in UAE, KSA, Oman & Qatar and a pipeline of 75 stores.

 

Name: Shifa Yusuffali

Company: IdeaCrate Edutainment Company

Designation: CEO

Founded in 2015, Abu Dhabi-based IdeaCrate specialises in family entertainment centres (FEC), operating three concepts – Orange Wheels, Orange Hub and Orange Seeds Nursery. A mother of three, Shifa felt a gap in the edutainment segment due to the lack of spaces that allowed children to play freely while learning and developing in a fun environment. This led to the creation of the ‘Orange’ concepts, through which Shifa has successfully established a unique proposition in a rather crowded leisure & entertainment industry. Shifa is also a board member of the Middle East and North Africa Leisure & Attractions Council (MENALAC) and speaks passionately about greater representation of women in the leisure & entertainment industry.

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