While 2017 has been a year of social and political upheaval, we firmly believe in searching for the silver lining. When it comes to finding inspiration that gives us hope for a new generation of creativity and activism, we need to look no further than our own region – especially the incredible women who either live here or hail from here. From compassionate royals to pioneering entrepreneurs, these seven Arab women inspired throughout 2017.
Queen Rania of Jordan
Not only is Queen Rania of Jordan one of the most stylish and well-liked royals in the world, but her huge heart for the disenfranchised also never ceases to inspire. As a global advocate for displaced refugees, children, and women, her work through the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development and Queen Rania Teacher Academy assures that generations will benefit from her philanthropic efforts.
Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel of Saudi Arabia
Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel of Saudi Arabia is not your typical Saudi princess – she is both a lightning rod for controversy and a powerful philanthropic force for good. The stylish princess earned her royal title after her marriage to Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, who is 32 years her senior. After their amicable divorce, the two remained fast friends, and the prince even commissioned the princess to continue running his charitable organization, Alwaleed bin Talal Foundation. However, in 2017, you’ll find Princess Al-Taweel working hard for Tasamy Social Initiatives Center, the organization she co-founded, which funds and oversees dozens of volunteer initiatives across the nation of Saudi Arabia. You can read an extended profile on Princess Al-Taweel here.
Ghizlan Guenez’s story of success with modest fashion e-commerce site The Modist is a true tale of passion and entrepreneurship. Her background in finance helped prepare her to launch the business, but it was her pioneering vision to launch a modest-fashion platform that really set The Modist up for triumph. Now, her website is the definitive place to shop for modest fashion by high-end luxury brands like Ellery and Arab designers the likes of Nour Hammour.
Although Amal Clooney is married to one of the world’s most recognizable celebrities, her career as a human rights lawyer puts her leagues above other A-listers. Her work includes representing Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova at the European Court of Human Rights and working tirelessly to have the Armenian massacres of 1915 to be officially labeled as genocide. We’re also captivated by her effortless sense of style. In 2017, Clooney gave birth to twins, thereby assuring that the world will one day benefit from her rarefied genetics.
Salama Alabbar is a woman with a vision. As a business powerhouse, she is the founder of leading multi-brand boutique Symphony as well as Sivvi, the ostensible “ASOS of the Middle East”. She might operate under the radar, but nonetheless, we know and support the work she has done to elevate commercial options in the region.
#WCW: Princess Lalla Salma of Morocco
Not only is Princess Lalla Salma of Morocco brainy and beautiful, but her compassion and generosity have made her one of the region’s most important philanthropic voices. Although Princess Salma tends to stay out the spotlight more than the rest of her royal peers, she is no less a force to be reckoned with. This year, we admire her especially for tackling the issue of breast cancer with the launch of a new breast cancer public awareness and screening campaign for women. The Lalla Salma Foundation for Cancer Prevention and Treatment aims to save lives by offering valuable screenings to Moroccan citizens. You can read our extended profile on Princess Salma here.
Dr. Amina Al Rustamani
If you live in Dubai, chances are high that you’ve experienced the amazing innovation and forward-thinking genius of the Dubai Design District or D3, which means you are aware, by proxy, of the brilliance of Dr. Amina Al Rustamani. As the CEO of TECOM Group, she was responsible for developing D3’s two-million-square-meter complex, and this year she was named President of Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI), which aims to be the first design university in the Middle East. As one of the city’s most extraordinary women and visionary thinkers, it’s no wonder that she ends up on Arabian Business’s annual list of the “100 Most Influential people in the Emirates” list every year, as well as Business of Fashion‘s coveted “BoF 500” list.