American University of Beirut

Five AUBites on the Forbes Middle East list of 50 most powerful women

​​​​​​​​Sally Abou Melhem, Office of Communications,​​​

This year's list of 50 most influential and successful businesswomen by Forbes Middle East was recently released, shedding light on female business leaders who are “holding some of the most challenging and important positions in MENA, as well as playing fundamental roles in making the Middle East a globally competitive marketplace." Over 25 percent of them are leaders of regional offices and divisions for multinational companies.

On the list that features representatives of 19 different nationalities and 17 sectors, are five AUB alumnae. Forbes considered the following criteria when creating the ranking: revenues, assets, assets under management, market capitalization, and number of employees; accomplishments achieved over the last year by the businesswomen; designation; overall work experience; corporate social responsibility and other initiatives led by the businesswomen; as well as editorial points.

Here's a quick look at the five AUBites and what Forbes Middle East had to say about them. Follow this link to check out the full Forbes list.

Hutham Olayan (BA '75), chairperson of the family-run Saudi contracting and trading company Olayan Group, took the 6th rank. Olayan Group has a diverse commercial, industrial, and investment portfolio. Olayan was also appointed to the board of Brookfield Asset Management Inc. in January 2021.

Arab Bank CEO Randa Muhammad Sadik (BBA'84, MBA '86) of Jordan, was ranked in the 7th spot. She assumed her current role in February 2022. Before that, she was the Deputy CEO for over ten years. According to Forbes, the Arab Bank has one of the largest global Arab banking networks with over 600 branches across five continents. She previously worked with NBK for 24 years where she was the group general manager of the International Banking Group.

Saudi British Bank (SABB) Chairperson Lubna Olayan (former student) of Saudi Arabia was ranked 11th on the list. She was CEO of the Olayan Financing Company for over 33 years, and served as the chairwoman of Alawwal Bank, which merged with SABB last March. In June 2019, she became chairperson of SABB which made $1.5 billion in total operating income in the first nine months of 2021. “Olayan was the first woman to join the board of a publicly-listed company in Saudi Arabia. She sits on the boards for the Olayan Financing Company, Schlumberger, and Ma'aden, and she sits on the international advisory boards of Akbank, Allianz SE, McKinsey & Co, and the Bank of America Merrill Lynch. She is also a trustee of KAUST, MIT, and the Asia Business Council," wrote Forbes.

Citigroup's MENA Cluster Head and CEO of Citi UAE Elissar Farah Antonios (BS '87) from Lebanon, was ranked 25th.  “Antonios became the first woman appointed by Citigroup to run its MENA operations in December 2020. She oversees 12 countries and 2,100 employees," wrote Forbes. She is also the chairperson of Injaz Al-Arab UAE and a board member of the Dubai International Chamber.​

Ranked 26th is Lebanese Samia Bouazza (BA '01), Multiply Group's CEO and managing director. She founded Multiply Marketing Consultancy (MMC), which was acquired by Abu Dhabi-based International Holding Company (IHC) in 2020. MMC was then transformed into the tech-focused holding company, Multiply Group.

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