The number of women in professional and technical jobs in the Middle East is projected to double by 2030.
By Maryam Razzaq
Despite the challenges that the West attributes to women in the Middle East, the advancing of the role of women in Middle Eastern society and economy is a common drive for change in the region.
Over the last 30 years, there has been a large increase of women in the Middle East pursuing self-employment and business ownership. Women’s entrepreneurship in the Middle East deserves to be recognized as it is an underutilized resource and recognizing its importance will only add to economic growth in the region. Currently, very little is published about women entrepreneurs in the Middle East.
Forbes magazine recently recognized 50 women in the Middle East as leaders who have “shown resilience, flexibility, strength in the face of unprecedented adversity, both in the workplace and in their communities.”2021’s power businesswomen belong to 19 countries in the Middle East and work across 16 sectors in some leadership roles. Egypt led with the most women entries in the list with eight women, followed by the United Arab Emirates with seven women. Women in the Middle East seem to have the strongest presence in the banking and financial services sector – a sector that is dominated by men in the West. In addition to this, eight of the leaders identified by Forbes “hold executive positions in regional divisions of multinational companies, such as Heike Harmgart, who heads the SEMED region for EBRD, and Eliisar Farah Antonios, who head Citigroup’s MENA cluster and serves as CEO of Citigroup UAE. Many women in the Middle East hold positions of power in the government – this includes Nezha Hayat, head of Morocco’s Capital Market Authority and Aisha bin Bishr, head of Smart Dubai.
In 2020, three women from the Middle East were recognized by Forbes’ as among the world’s 100 most powerful women.
Linda Benallal, C.E.O – Innocent Touch
Linda Benallal, born to an Algerian father and Moroccan mother was born and raised in France pursued her dreams as a fashion designer in Dubai after completing a Bachelor in English and Masters in Political Studies.
In Dubai, Linda brought her dreams into a reality as she incepted her own clothing line which specializes in the Hijab, a religious and cultural head-covering for Muslim women.
Linda is a member of several charitable organizations and NGOs, and her primary goal through her success is to inspire other women in the Middle East to pursue their passion.
Linda believes herself to be an ambassador of the modern Muslim world and shares, “Islam is a beautiful religion. I want to pass this message to the world”.
Linda credits her success as a female entrepreneur in Dubai to Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the UAE.
“I thank Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. He gave me wings. Not only me but thousands of women are inspired by his leadership and the way he promoted women not only in the Emirati society but the world. He should be the King of the world,” says Linda.
Today, Linda is a designer for film stars in the region. In addition to this, she is a member of the Business Professional World (BPW) Emirates Club, a group that has more than 50 branches worldwide. Through her role in the BPW, Linda helps entrepreneurs gain success on a global level.
Through her role as an honourable member of the Global Goodwill Ambassador Algeria, she hopes to empower women in the region to pursue their passions and dreams.
Linda’s final message to the women of the world is:
“Be strong and face the world. The world is ready to welcome you.”