Arab women today, have an even more pivotal involvement towards economic and social development. Favorable policy upgrades across the Middle East have resulted in women being increasingly recognized for their roles as leaders and agents of change. The region has witnessed a steady evolution of improved gender equality reforms by encouraging women in workforce, leadership positions as well as entrepreneurship.
Forbes Middle East will bring together an exclusive panel of renowned female leaders from Oman and other parts of the GCC to share their thoughts on how the role of women has transitioned to empower a modern economy.
Lujaina Mohsin Haider Darwish
Chairperson-Infrastructure, Technology Industrial and Consumer Solutions
Mohsin Haider Darwish LLC
Honorable Lujaina Mohsin Darwish is the Chairperson - Infrastructure, Technology, Industrial and Consumer Solutions (ITICS) of Mohsin Haider Darwish LLC. A graduate in English Literature from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), she began her career as a lecturer at SQU, before joining the family business. She was elected to the country’s consultative council - Majlis A’ Shura, one of only seven women to be elected since its inception, and holds the distinction of having been elected twice to this honorary position from the Wilayat of Muscat and then in 2015, as a member of the upper chamber, Majlis A’Dawla (Oman State Council) being appointed by Royal Decree. A business leader par excellence, Honorable Lujaina Mohsin Haider Darwish has been a trailblazer in uplifting, empowering and inspiring young Omani women entrepreneurs and corporate leaders alike. She is associated with various organizations and holds important positions such as the Honorary Chairperson of the Oman-China Friendship Association, Oman-India Friendship Association, Oman-Turkey Friendship Association and membership of the GCC Women Forum. She has been actively involved at various international forums to understand and coordinate the development efforts of women and children internationally, and particularly in the Arab World. Steadfast in her efforts to provide the youth of the country with numerous growth opportunities while empowering women to scale new heights, she is known for her invaluable contributions to driving socio-economic progress in the Sultanate of Oman. She was recently appointed to the Board of the Arab International Women’s Forum (AIWF). Her membership with the forum is a further testament to her active involvement with the community and keen focus on supporting causes that are targeted at the youth and women of the country. Similarly, as a Board Member of the Oman Olympic Committee, the Oman Football Association and Chairperson of the Women’s Football Committee, she has worked tirelessly to lay a sustainable foundation for women sports in the Sultanate of Oman. With the strength of the legacy inherited from her late father, Mohsin Haider Darwish, and guided by his philosophy of “people first,” she brings a humane dimension to the nitty-gritty of managing a large, diversified business. She presides with élan over a hugely varied group of businesses ranging from technology to consumer durables to industrial solutions. Under her able leadership, the organization has seen exponential growth through expansion into newer categories. Adding to her list of accolades, she was ranked “23rd amongst the top 50 most powerful businesswomen” by Forbes Middle East in 2022 and ranked “34th amongst 100 most powerful businesswomen in the Middle East,” by Forbes Middle East 2020. She is the first Omani to receive a fellowship from the Royal Society of Arts, UK for her outstanding contributions as a change-maker, helping create a sustainable future for all. She also was the recipient of The Diamond Executive’s Award and Leadership Medal from the Harvard Business Council 2020 International Awards and Women of the year 2020 by International Business Stevie Awards. She is a multi-faceted personality who believes deeply in giving back to the community, is a person who assiduously works for the welfare and well-being of underprivileged persons, and serves as an example and inspiration to all.
Founder and CEO
Sophie is the Founder and CEO of Nabta Health, a hybrid healthcare platform for women enabling the accelerated detection, diagnosis, and treatment of chronic diseases in women in emerging markets. Prior to founding Nabta, Sophie worked as a technology consultant for Accenture, and then launched a number of impact startups, including myZindagi (a doctor-finding platform in Pakistan) and Le Plastics (a waste-plastics-to-roads company in Sierra Leone). Earlier this year, Sophie founded the 2022 Female Angels movement to bring gender parity to the early-stage investment landscape by identifying and publicly listing 2,022 female angel investors for MENA by the end of 2022. Sophie’s lifetime ambition is to empower all women to effectively manage their health. Sophie read History at the University of Cambridge and completed an MBA with Quantic School of Business and Technology.
Areej Mohsin Darwish
Chairperson Automotive, Construction Equipment & Renewable Energy
Mohsin Haider Darwish LLC
Mrs. Areej Mohsin Darwish is a forward-thinking, resourceful, and motivated leader with over two decades of progressive experience in handling demanding objectives and catapulting the organization forward to achieve long-term organizational targets. Visionary behind company operations and strategies, dedicated to helping employees enhance their skills and techniques in order to reach larger goals. Detail-oriented multi-tasker with demonstrated skills in risk mitigation, change management, and visionary leadership. On top of establishing Areej Mohsin Haider Darwish LLC in 2014, Mrs. Areej launched two retail business setups - ‘Blessing Chocolates and Gifts’ & ‘First Impression Artwork’. Mrs. Mohsin Darwish's mission is to carry forward the family legacy by taking MHD LLC to world-class level and raise it to be recognized for quality and professionalism, respected for our commitment to health, safety and the environment and acknowledged for their social responsibility and continued contribution to the development of Oman and its economy.
AlSayyida Basma Al Said
Mental Health Clinical Counselor and Founder
Whispers of Serenity
A well-established Mental Health Clinical Counselor, founder of the first mental health clinic in Oman, Whispers of Serenity and founder of mental health campaign Not Alone. She is also a hypnotherapist and PTSD trainer with over 21 years of experience seeing and treating patients from a wide array of disorders. She holds a master’s degree in Health Counseling in 2008 from Curtin University of Technology in Australia. Sayyida Basma is a pioneer in mental health issues awareness and is renowned for dealing head on with taboo subjects in the Middle East such as abuse and eating disorders. She is one of the few psychotherapists in the Gulf to use techniques such Hypnotherapy as well as her most recently earned training of Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET) for PTSD from Harvard University. On 2014, Her Highness initiated “Not Alone” an ongoing campaign to create societal awareness of the importance of mental well- being. This is a living proof of her dedication and ambition towards the betterment of the society. Not Alone campaign has opened a messaging support line on the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic where it provides a psychological and emotional support dedicated to teens, the elderly and most importantly, the frontline health workers. She also spearheaded on providing free counseling for individuals and groups during the second wave of COVID-19 in India, Beirut incident and the current situation for Palestinians. Moreover, she is the current Honorary President of Oman Heritage – a team that looks after and preserves Omani practices and culture. Recognized not only in the Arab world but also internationally, she has attended and delivered a total of 800 in governmental and 400 in private institutional talks, workshop and webinars. She also has been featured and interviewed by prominent networks and media such as CNN Arabia, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar Arabia to name a few. Awarded as International Social Responsibility Ambassador by The International Union for Social Responsibility (IUSR) for 2020 and 2021, and has been honored as one of the 50 Omani women who have played a significant role in the country’s development and for their achievements in the field of their work by the Honorable Lady, Wife of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik on Omani Women’s Day 2020. On February 2022, World Humanitarian Forum has welcomed Sayyida Basma as one of the new members of Medical and Health Programming board while The Diana Award- the only charity named after the legacy of Princess Diana has announced about her being the first Arab to judge young candidates around the world who have excelled in social work. Moreover, she was also one of the speakers to the Inaugural of Forbes USA for World’s Most Powerful Women for International Women’s Day where HE Hillary Clinton had headlined last March this year.
Huda Al Lawati
Founder and CEO
Huda has 20 years of experience in private equity, operations and investments across emerging markets. Her prior roles include Partner at Gateway Partners, Chief Investment Officer at Savola Group and Partner and Chief Investment Officer (MENA) at the Abraaj Group. She has served on multiple boards and committees across the region including Tim Hortons, Panda Retail Company, Herfy (Tadawul), AlKabeer, Savola Foods Company, SMG, The Entertainer and Kudu. She started her career with Schlumberger in 2002 after graduating from Brown University, RI, USA with a BSc in Neuroscience and a BA in Business Economics (Honors). Throughout her career she has led over $2 billion of equity and over $1 billion of debt deals and has experience in growth capital, MBOs, LBOs, venture capital, equity markets and structured equity transactions. She has played leading roles in strategic initiatives, corporate turnarounds, change management, organizational building and investor relations. She is currently an Independent Board Member at Saudi Fransi Capital, an Independent Board Member and Risk Committee Chair at Hala (ADGM and CMA regulated fintech company), a Member on the Investment Committee of Al Ula Development Company and serves on the Advisory Boards of two family offices. She is also a Member of the Board of Directors the Young Arab Leaders and a Member of the Young Presidents Organization.
Founder and CEO
Elissa Freiha is an entrepreneur, investor, executive producer, public speaker, women’s rights advocate and founder of Womena, a Digital Media company that creates compelling female-focused content in the MENA region. As a prominent speaker on women's involvement in entrepreneurship and active angel investor with over 30 investments between North America and MENA, Elissa has been frequently recognized in various media outlets, appearing on BBC’s 30under30, Forbes Middle East’s “50 Business Leaders Inspiring The UAE”, and Arabian Business’ “100 World’s Most Influential Arabs”, “100 Most Powerful Arab Women”, “100 Most Influential Arabs under 40”, “Entrepreneur of the year 2019” by One Young World,Forbes Middle East's "100 Power Business Women 2020" as well as as being named one of the 10 people that will shape the region over the next decade by Esquire Magazine.Prior to co-founding WOMENA, Elissa has previously worked in marketing, sales, and events in entertainment and media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Global Communications from the American University of Paris, the city in which she was born and raised. She is an Emirati of Lebanese and American descent.
Senior Presenter / Producer
Forbes Middle East
Ramia is a Senior Producer and Presenter at Forbes Middle East, as well as a Moderator with a long history of hosting a variety of public and private sector events. At Forbes, Ramia hosts the Daily Brief, an online twice daily show focusing on breaking business news. She also conducts interviews with international business and world leaders. From its launch in 2007 until 2021, Ramia led the Emirates News broadcast on Dubai One TV as the Presenter and News Bulletin Editor. Previous to her role at Emirates News, from 2002 to 2007, Ramia presented and produced the program Business Arabia, which aired internationally on CNBC. Ramia has interviewed several world leaders including General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, Mohammed Khatami, President of Iran, Gerhard Schroeder, Chancellor of Germany and Jimmy Carter, US President. She is a moderator at major events including the World Government Summit in Dubai, the Middle East Investment Forum, and the Forbes 30/50 Summit, to name a few. Ramia holds a MA in Global Diplomacy-International Relations from the University of London, SOAS, as well as a BA in Communications from the University of Winnipeg and an associate degree in Journalism from Red River College.
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Forbes Middle East is a licensee of Forbes Media and extends the Forbes brand of journalism across the Arab world. Forbes Middle East’s distinctive editorial style attracts a readership of Arab leaders, entrepreneurs, C-level executives, government officials and investors united by a belief in the spirit of free enterprise and entrepreneurial values.Across the region, Forbes Middle East sets the pace for preemptive business journalism. By uncovering trends and anticipating opportunities in the regional marketplace, each monthly issue brings top executives the information critical to their success – in both Arabic and English language editions. The magazine researches and publishes original rankings, based on methodologies set by Forbes Media.
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