17 Egyptian women dominate Forbes Middle East 100 Most Powerful Businesswomen 2024 list

Baheya Wael , Monday 19 Feb 2024

Egypt stands out with a record-breaking 17 women featured in the Forbes Middle East’s list of 100 Most Powerful Business Women 2024.

Forbes Middle East s list of 100 Most Powerful Business Women 2024
A combined image of several Individuals from the Most Powerful Business Women 2024. Photo courtesy of Forbes.


Among them, 10 are returning from the previous year's list, while 7 newcomers join the ranks of influential female leaders.

This year’s list of the Middle East’s 100 Most Powerful Businesswomen 2024, prepared by Forbes’ Middle East edition, features 100 entries, with 104 women from 27 different sectors and 28 countries.

In compiling the list, Forbes assessed several key criteria including their regional influence, recent achievements, and involvement in sustainability initiatives.

Factors such as business size, industry experience, and tenure in current roles were also considered. Notably, leaders of family businesses were excluded this year.

For the second consecutive year, Hana Al Rostamani, CEO of First Abu Dhabi Bank, is at the top of the list.

In 2023, 13 Egyptian businesswomen starred on the list, up from seven in 2022.

Among the Egyptian women featured, the Banking and Financial Services section takes the lead, followed by the Technology section.

Egyptians featured on the Forbes Middle East’s Top 100 Businesswomen 2024 list:

Reem Asaad (10th, technology)

An Egyptian American Harvard Business School graduate, has over 30 years of experience in the technology sector.

She served as CEO of Raya Data Centre and Raya Contact Centre before becoming vice president at Cisco Middle East and Africa in 2020. Asaad oversees a workforce of 3,500+ across 74 countries and was appointed to Egypt's Information Technology Industry Development Agency board in 2021.

Under her leadership, Cisco collaborated with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology for education advancement and powered a next-generation wi-fi service at Hamad International Airport in Qatar.

Last year, Asaad was ranked 39th on the same list.

Dalia El-Baz (13th, banking & financial services)

An American University in Cairo alumna, she has 28 years of banking experience.

Joining the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) in 2008, she rose to COO in 2015 and joined the executive committee in 2016.

In 2017, she became NBE's first female executive deputy chairman. El-Baz oversees 26,000+ employees and plays a key role in NBE's market share, including significant retail and total loans.

She also chairs Al Ahly Payments and serves as a non-executive director at the National Bank of Egypt (UK) Limited.

Pakinam Kafafi (24th, oil and gas):

A Cairo University graduate, she began her finance and banking career at EFG-Hermes in the mid-1990s, rising to vice president by 2000.

Transitioning to the oil and energy sector, she became the strategy and investment general manager at Gas & Energy Group (GENCO) in 2003.

Kafafi maintained her role after GENCO was acquired by Citadel Group and merged with TAQA Arabia, where she assumed her current position in 2013. With over 29 years of experience, she oversees 3,400 employees and played a key role in TAQA Arabia's listing on the Egyptian Exchange in June 2023.

Moreover, she co-founded the IRENA industry decarbonization alliance and holds board positions at the British Egyptian Business Association and the Arabian Cement Company.

Marianne Ghali (34th, diversified):

Chairperson and managing director of Sphinx Egypt, she earned her BA in economics from the American University in Cairo. She began her career at the University of Manchester in the UK and later at Al Ghanem Industries Group in Kuwait.

Since 1990, she has managed the educational endowment funds of the American University in Cairo.

In 2005, Ghali partnered with Citadel Capital (now Qalaa Holdings) to establish Sphinx International for managing mutual funds. She launched Sphinx's restructuring fund in 2010 to invest in troubled Egyptian SMEs.

Ghali also serves as the treasurer of the Qalaa Foundation Scholarship, providing scholarships for talented Egyptian students. At Qalaa Holdings, Ghali manages a portfolio exceeding $161.8 million.

Hend El-Sherbeni (38th, healthcare):

CEO of Integrated Diagnostics Holdings (IDH), El-Sherbeni joined the IDH Group in 2004 and has been CEO since 2012. 

In October 2022, IDH signed a joint venture agreement with Biolab and Izhoor Medical, a company owned by Fawaz Alhokair, to launch a full-fledged pathology diagnostic services provider in Saudi Arabia.

IDH has been collaborating with the Ministry of Labour in Egypt to sponsor a safety forum for corporations and the industrial sector. In the first nine months of 2023, IDH recorded $185 million in total assets and revenues worth $98.5 million.

Merette ElSayed; Dalia Wahba (42nd, real estate and construction):

Elsayed joined Hassan Allam Holding as chief commercial officer in 2018 and, in November 2022, became CEO of Legacy, a Hassan Allam company operating the Grand Egyptian Museum.

Elsayed has 22 years of industry experience. She previously worked as transaction director for the MENAT region at Carillion.

Wahba joined Hassan Allam Utilities in 2021 as deputy CEO and CIO, becoming CEO in January 2023.

Wahba has 25 years of experience. She was previously senior manager for MENA at the International Finance Corporation, overseeing an investment portfolio exceeding $5 billion.

Mona Zulficar (43rd, law, investment):

She cofounded Zulficar & Partners in 2009. Zulficar is a corporate, banking, and project finance attorney.

Zulficar has chaired EFG Holding since 2008 and is the president of the Egyptian Federation for Financing Medium, Small, & Micro Projects.

She also chairs several NGOs, including the Women’s Health Improvement Association and the EFG Foundation for Social Development, and she is the chairperson and founder of Al Tadamun Microfinance Foundation.

Zulficar served as an elected member and deputy chairperson of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee.

Hoda Mansour (45th, technology):

Featured for the first time this year, Mansour is the COO in Asia Pacific, Japan, Middle East & Africa at IFS since 2023.

She has 28 years of industry experience and previously held regional and global positions at SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft, including leading SAP’s Business Process Transformation Practice across Southern Europe, the Middle East & Africa.

Mansour also serves on the board of governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt and became a Non-Executive Independent Board Director for Commercial International Bank in March 2023.

Elham Mahfouz (48th, banking & financial services):

Mahfouz joined the Commercial Bank of Kuwait in 2000 and assumed her current position as CEO in 2014.

In September 2023, the bank issued its first Subordinated Tier II capital, with a total facility amounting to around $308 million.

The bank recorded a net profit of $322.5 million in the first nine months of 2023. Mahfouz has more than 38 years of banking experience and also sits on the Advisory Board for the American University of Kuwait.

Mirna Arif (60th along with Lana Khalaf, technology):

Arif, now country manager of Microsoft Egypt, started her Microsoft journey in Dubai when she joined as MEA’s business group director in 2019.

She also sits on the board of Banque Misr and is the independent non-executive director of Rameda.

Her Lebanese feature partner on the list, Lana Khalaf, is the general manager of Microsoft Qatar.

Dalia Ibrahim (69th, publishing):

Ibrahim has been CEO of Nadhet Misr Publishing House since 2011.

In November 2023, EdVentures completed a new investment round in Sprints, an Egyptian company that addresses the tech talent gap.

Ibrahim has also been actively involved as an angel investor and serves on the board of directors for Endeavor Egypt, the Women Entrepreneurs Network, Tiye Angels, and INJAZ Egypt, among others.

Omnia Kelig (75th, banking & financial services):

An AUC alumna, Omnia Kelig is a banking and cooperate financing veteran who started her career in the CIB in 1999.

Kelig is currently deputy CEO, chairwoman and managing director of NAEEM Holding, a dual-listed company on the Egyptian Stock Exchange and the Dubai Financial Market.

Before joining NAEEM, Kelig was a founder and managing director of Viveris Mashrek, a subsidiary of France’s Viveris Management.

She was also a partner and director for Haykala Investment Management and a co-head of investment banking at Barclays Bank in Egypt.

Abir Leheta (78th, logistics):

An AUC alumna, Leheta is a veteran and the CEO of Egytrans.

Leheta has 27 years of industry experience. In October 2023, she became the advisory council co-chair at the AUC School of Business Executive Education.

She is also co-chair of the AmCham Transport and Logistics Committee, the vice chair of the Transport Committee of the Egyptian Businessmen’s Association, chair of the African Women’s Committee of the Egyptian African Businessmen’s Association, and a board treasurer at the Global Compact Network Egypt.

Ghada Abdelhadi Kandil (82nd, banking & financial services):

Kandil assumed her current role of Egypt chief director at Bank of New York Mellon in September 2022 after previously being the assistant of the sub-governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) for 17 years.

She started her career at CBE in 2005.

She sits on the advisory board of the KAYAN Group. She also was a board member at Al-Ahly Capital’s microfinancing network, Tamkeen.

Abeer Saleh (93rd, insurance):

Saleh joined Misr Life Insurance Takaful as managing director in 2022.

She has over 28 years of industry experience and previously held roles across the insurance and banking sectors, including as managing director of Al Wafa Life Insurance and Bupa Egypt Insurance, director of bancassurance & alternative distribution at MetLife Egypt, and other roles at the Commercial International Bank.

She is also an independent board member for Yodawy, a member of the advisory committee of the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority, and was elected as a board member of the Insurance Federation of Egypt.

Hilda Louca (100th, E-commerce):

A graduate of the Arab Academy for Science, Technology, Transport and Maritime Transport, Hilda Louca is a newcomer to the list.

Louca started her career in Lufthansa’s customer service before moving to become a sales marking manager at Al-Ahram Beverage Company-Heineken Egypt for three years.

In 2018, she founded MITCHA – a platform to support Egyptian designers. Today, MITCHA is home to 300 Egyptian brands.

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