Female entrepreneurs excel behind Middle East’s most loved brands


DUBAI — Forbes Middle East has unveiled its second annual Women Behind Middle Eastern Brands list for 2020, featuring 40 of the most successful female entrepreneurs that have created and scaled some of the most loved brands in the Middle East.

It has also released a Women Behind Middle Eastern Tech Brands list for the first time, highlighting 10 female founders of innovative and successful technology startups and established brands.

The fashion sector represents 42% of the Women Behind Middle Eastern Brands list with 17 entries. These are led by designer Reem Acra, who found fame in Hollywood by dressing celebrities such as Halle Berry and Beyoncé.

The jewelry sector came in second with nine entries, led by Azza Fahmy and her daughters Amina and Fatma Ghali with their eponymous brand Azza Fahmy Jewelry. Iraqi-American Huda Kattan, who was named amongst America’s Richest Self-Made Women 2019 by Forbes with a fortune estimated at $610 million, tops the list again this year.

In creating the rankings, Forbes Middle East’s methodology included celebrity endorsements, revenues and growth rate, the number of countries the brand is present in, and media and social media reach.

For the Women Behind Middle Eastern Tech Brands, it also looked at the amount of funding received. These entrepreneurs have succeeded in gathering millions in external investment.

Mona Ataya and Leena Abi Khalil top the list with their brand Mumzworld, which has gathered a total of $50 million in funding from notable investors, making it the highest-funded women-led e-commerce business in the region.

Top 10 Women Behind Middle Eastern Brand

1. Huda Kattan, Nationality: Iraqi-American Brand: Huda Beauty; 2. Reem Acra Nationality: Lebanese-American Brand: Reem Acra; 3. Azza Fahmy, Amina & Fatma Ghali Nationality: Egyptian Brand: Azza Fahmy Jewelry; 4. Dima Rashid Nationality: Palestinian Brand: Dima Jewelry; 5. Nada Ghazal Nationality: Lebanese Brand: Nada Ghazal Fine Jewelry; 6. Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch Nationality: Moroccan Brand: Yan&One; 7. Gemy Maalouf Nationality: Lebanese Brand: Gemy Maalouf; 8. Razan Alazzouni Nationality: Saudi Brand: Razan Alazzouni; 9. Andrea Wazen Nationality: Lebanese Brand: Andrea Wazen; 10. Jude Benhalim Nationality: Egyptian Brand: Jude Benhalim. — SG