Four Saudi women named among Forbes’ 50 most powerful businesswomen

The list includes women of 19 nationalities working in 17 sectors, most notably the banking and financial services sector

Riyadh: Four Saudi women have been named among Forbes’ 50 most powerful businesswomen in the Middle East in 2021.

The Saudi women who made it to the list are Sarah Al-Suhaimi, Hotham Alyan, Lubna Al-Olayan, and Basma Al-Maiman.

Sarah al-Suhaimi

Sarah al-Suhaimi (Forbes Middle East)

Sarah al-Suhaimi ranked fourth on the list, she is the first Saudi woman to chair the Saudi Arabian Stock Exchange (Tadawul), which is the largest stock market in the Middle East.

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Al-Suhaimi is also a board member of the Saudi Telecom Company, the Saudi Arabian Airlines Public Agency, and the Cultural Development Fund. She is a trustee of the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation.

Hutham Olayan

Hutham Olayan. (Forbes Middle East)

Hutham Olayan ranked sixth on the list, she is the chairwoman of the Olayan Group—a private, multinational enterprise with an actively managed portfolio of global investments. Founded in 1947, the Olayan Group is an international investor that operates in an array of different sectors.

In Saudi Arabia, the Olayan Group bottles Coca-Cola runs Burger King restaurants and manufactures cans and paper.

Lubna Olayan

Lubna Olayan. (Forbes Middle East)

Lubna Olayan ranked eleventh on the Forbes list. She served as the Chief Executive officer of Olayan Finance for over 30 years and retired in 2019.

In 2019, she became the chairwoman of the Saudi British Bank (ABB). She also chaired the board of Alawwal Bank which merged with SABB in 2021.

Olayan was the first woman to join the board of directors of a Saudi-listed company.

Basmah Abdulaziz al-Mayman

Basmah Al Mayman. (UNWTO)

Basmah Abdulaziz al-Mayman ranked fifteen on the Forbes list. She is the Regional Director for the Middle East at the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a position which she has held since 2018, making her the first GCC national to hold a leadership position at UNWTO and the first woman to spearhead the region in the organization’s history.

The Forbes list of the most powerful businesswomen in the Middle East was ranked according to criteria related to the size of companies, individual achievements during the past year, in addition to social responsibility, and initiatives.

The list includes women of 19 nationalities working in 17 sectors, most notably the banking and financial services sector.

This year’s Forbes Middle East list includes the 50 most influential and successful businesswomen from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kuwait and Oman.

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Sakina Fatima

Sakina Fatima, a digital journalist with, has a master's degree in business administration and is a graduate in mass communication and journalism. Sakina covers topics from the Middle East, with a leaning towards human interest issues.
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