Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi has topped the list again of the 100 most powerful Arab Women 2012 by CEO Middle East magazine for the second year running. The list ranks Arab women according to the number of people whose lives they have touched and influenced.
Previously minister for the economy and planning, UAE-born Sheikha was praised for her contribution to the Gulf state’s flourishing trade industry and her key role in the country’s diversification programme.
As a member of the ruling family of Sharjah, Sheikha Lubna was the first ever female to be appointed as a government minister in the United Arab Emirates in 2004 and the first female finance minister in the history of the Middle East. Whilst there were other women ministers in Gulf countries before her appointment, Lubna’s position was the most senior.
In her current role as Minister for Foreign Trade, Lubna is responsible for promoting trade ties with international partners which is a vital part of the UAE’s diversification strategy. The UAE’s economy, financial markets, and monetary and investment policies have been modernized under her leadership. She has become one of the best-known ambassadors for her country, regularly speaking on major stages, such as the World Economic Forum and the Council on Foreign Relations. Earlier this year, Lubna met with US Secretary of state Hilary Clinton and is working towards signing off the US Middle East Free Trade Area by next year.
Prior to her appointment in cabinet, Lubna had previously enjoyed a remarkable career as a businesswoman and she sits on the board of directors for a number of organisations, including the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The women of the UAE point to Sheika Lubna as a source of pride and inspiration — and so do many of the men. She embraces her status as a role model, but insists that the women of her country have the tools they need to accomplish their dreams: “It is up to us as women to decide…what it is that we can do and not do.”
Coming in at second place was Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman, who became internationally recognised after she claimed the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to improve human rights during the Arab Spring.