Mubasher: This year’s Women Behind Middle Eastern Brands 2020 featured female trailblazers who managed to sustain their successful brands and push the boundaries despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The list, launched initially last year by Forbes, showcased female entrepreneurs that played a key role in creating brands and startups that have captured the interest of users while evolving into a profitable and sustainable business in the Middle East.
Iraqi-American Huda Kattan, who was named amongst America’s Richest Self-Made Women 2019 by Forbes with a fortune estimated at $610 million, made it to the top of the list again this year. Her brand Huda Beauty has around 46 million followers on Instagram.
The fashion sector represents 42% of the list with 17 entries. These are led by designer Reem Acra, who found fame in Hollywood by dressing celebrities such as Halle Berry and Beyoncé.
The jewellery sector followed with nine entries, led by Azza Fahmy and her daughters Amina and Fatma Ghali with their eponymous brand Azza Fahmy Jewellery. Their designs have also been seen on some big names during awards season, including Julia Roberts, Naomi Watts, and Kerry Washington.
Forbes also created a “Women Behind Middle Eastern Tech Brands 2020” list, featuring 10 women behind successful tech-based brands in the Middle East that have succeeded in securing millions in funding. Mona Ataya and Leena Abi Khalil topped the list with their brand Mumzworld, which has gathered funding of $50 million from notable investors.
Women of Lebanese origin held the first rank with 14 entries, followed by Saudi origin with 10 entries, Egyptian origin with 10, and Jordanian origin with five.
Furthermore, some of these entrepreneurs managed to achieve milestones during the past year. For example, Arwa Al Banawi collaborated with Pepsi, Amina Muaddi collaborated with Rihanna’s brand Fenty, Jihan Alama launched an affordable silverwear line called J.Rock, whilst in January, Mumzworld secured new capital worth $10 million, and in March, supermodel Kendall Jenner wore Jude Benhalim’s designs.
Forbes considered some factors while creating the rankings, including celebrities who endorsed the brand, social media followers, revenues/growth rate, number of countries the brand is present in, media coverage, and years of experience. For tech-brands, the amount of external funding received was considered.
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