Gender equality critical for economic growth in Middle East: Forbes Women’s Summit

Doaa A.Moneim , Tuesday 23 May 2023

Over three days, the Forbes Middle East Women’s Summit held in Saudi Arabia has been shedding light on the leadership role women in the Middle East region are playing in businesses, touching upon equality, entrepreneurship, and empowerment as key areas women have notable contributions across, as well as exploring solutions that invest in the future of women in the region.

Forbes Women Summit Awards.
Forbes Women Summit Awards.


The participants asserted that achieving gender equality contributes directly to the region’s economic growth amid the challenging time the region’s economies had struggled since March 2022, when the Russian-Ukrainian conflict sparked.

“Our common aim is to get to know each other better to seek alignments and maybe work together for common goals,” said Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al Saud, the chairperson of the summit and the founder of Saudi Fashion Week.

She added, “As the kingdom’s ambitions drive us all forward to 2030 and beyond, I invite you all to join me in forging a path where we are crafting the culture and sharing stories.”

“I believe that the story we are creating here is about sharing our knowledge, passion, love, care, ideas, solutions, and more,” said Khuloud Al Omian, the CEO of Forbes Middle East.

The summit, which concluded on Tuesday and hosted more than 400 participants and women speakers who proved they are leaders and innovative in the field they are working in, provided a platform for a series of expert programming and networking opportunities with women from across all sectors, along with activities, and workshops designed to empower and support women in business.

Vice President of EEMEA region at the US-based pharmaceutical company Allergan Aesthetics, Agnes Lim, spoke about the industry’s evolution.

“In the past, aesthetics was about vanity, about superficiality; I think this has changed. Today, we think about ensuring confidence and emotional well-being. Women have the right to be the best version of themselves,” according to Lim.

Partner at Saudi-based management consulting firm Bain & Company, Anne-Laure Malauzat, said that the experience from the Gulf market has proven that organizations have more productivity if women are on the team, adding that gender equality is critical for the growth of the region’s businesses and economy.

What about the Egyptian market?

Speaking to Ahram Online, Co-founder and CTO of Egypt-based Grinta Yosra Badr said that It’s clear that Egypt is facing its own set of macroeconomic and microeconomic challenges, adding that businesses are definitely struggling to float.

Grinta is an Egypt-based startup, a fintech-enabled B2B tech platform that digitises the pharmaceutical supply chain.

“Solid Businesses with resilient leaders consider current challenges as opportunities. It’s not an easy road, but it can be exciting, especially for a woman. The responsibility of being a female leader in our world today is to create a legacy that inspires future generations to do more, learn more, and become more,” said Badr.

She added that most of these businesses must focus on reviewing their business models and ensure it’s pivoted whenever needed.

Revenues generating models must be reviewed to ensure new options based on possible local and regional opportunities, and cost optimization is always a critical pillar that strengthens the business, Badr told Ahram Online.

“A strengthening pillar that differentiates solid business begins with having a diversified leadership team with a clear vision to give our business an edge to strive. A mix of female and male; engineering, medicine, and investment backgrounds made it possible to grab opportunities across all verticals,” said Badr.

“We have been through many challenges in the last few years, starting with COVID-19 and reaching the current devaluation status. Resilience and agility were our only tools to make it through. However, we believe that out of chaos comes opportunities,” Badr highlighted.

Badr also stressed the need for the local companies to explore new markets to enter and initiate their businesses in, explaining that such an action will reflect positively on their revenues amid the ongoing challenging time, as well as availing new segments of customers for Egyptian products.

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