American University of Beirut

Ouided Bouchamaoui

Business leader, visionary, peace activist, and philanthropist, Ouided (a.k.a. Wided) Bouchamaoui became a Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate in 2015. She launched the Tunisian National Dialogue which initiated, as part of a national collaboration, negotiations that resulted in a peaceable solution for Tunisia's political crisis that followed the revolution in 2011. Bouchamaoui played a historic and legendary role in shifting her country from a potential civil war to a pluralistic democracy with a firm focus on human rights.

Born in 1961 in Gabès, Tunisia, Ouided received her master's degree in international business from the Institut Supérieur de Gestion de Tunis, and her diploma of specialized higher education (DESS) in international trade law from Tunis University II. Her father, the late Hédi Bouchamaoui, was an entrepreneur who established hydraulic infrastructures and set-up and developed agricultural lands across the Tunisian territory. Her grandfather, Ahmed, started a civil engineering company at the beginning of the 20th century that her father later made into Hédi Bouchamaoui Group (HBG), specializing in oil, textile, and other sectors. Ouided has been the firm's shareholder and director since 1988. HBG has turned the group into a portfolio company operating in Tunisia and Libya in automotive distribution, agriculture, real estate development, specialized distribution, and financial services.

Ouided is recognized as one of the most influential businesswomen in Africa. She was elected in 2017 as vice president of the European Center for Peace and Development in Belgrade, a partner institution of the United Nations University for Peace, and is manager of Maille Fil, a textile business. She is also member of the Oslo Business for Peace Award Committee.

From May 2011 to January 2018, Bouchamaoui was president of the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade, and Handicrafts (UTICA). She was the first woman elected to this position. Under her presidency of UTICA, and along with the Tunisian General Union of Labor (UGTT), she launched in 2013 the initiative of the national dialogue. They were joined by the League of Human Rights and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers to form “The Quartet." These four of Tunisia's most powerful institutions initiated negotiations with all parties involved in Tunisia's major political crisis in 2013, creating an almost impossible alliance that would go on to result in a peaceable solution and save Tunisian democracy. For this successful endeavor, they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.

Bouchamaoui is renowned for her decisive contribution as a member of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet to her country's transition through a great time of crisis to a more transparent and collaborative society with democratic processes, a constitutional framework, and transparent elections.

Bouchamaoui has been involved with various foundations for many years, including the Business for Peace Foundation, the Fundación Cultura de Paz, and the Global Hope Coalition. She also sits on the board of Leaders Pour la Paix and is founding member of the Connecting Group, a women's leadership network. In 2016, Tarek Bouchamaoui (Ouided's brother), along with his brothers and sisters, created the Hédi Bouchamaoui Foundation to carry on their father's engagement in the field of education and culture.

Ouided Bouchamaoui was named Best Businesswoman of the Arab World in 2013 under the auspices of the G8 Deauville Partnership. In 2015, the Tunisian President, Beji Caid Essebsi made her Grand Officer of the Order of the Republic, and His Majesty, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, decorated her with the Royal Order of the Polar Star. She also received the Legion d'Honneur from the French President François Hollande, in December 2015. At the Annual Women Economic Forum (WEF) 2018 in India, she was granted the highest WEF Award of Legendary Peace Leaders of the Decade. Bouchamaoui was granted honorary doctorates from Paris Dauphine University and from FON University, Macedonia.

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