The most powerful women in corporate Oman

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The face of corporate Oman is undergoing a radical change as male bastions get stormed and glass ceilings shattered. In the vanguard of this change are OER’s Most Powerful Women in Business. These game changers and path breakers are rewriting the rules of the workplace with their competence, skills, attitude and leadership. The following pages are a tribute to these role models. 
A report by Visvas Paul D Karra

EXCEPTIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS



Abla Al Riyami

Gas Director

Petroleum Development of Oman

A recipient of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Regional Service Award, Abla has made exceptional contributions both at the local and regional level to the development of programmes, which highlight the importance of gas. Abla is now part of the steering committee of The 7th Annual Meeting of Gas Arabia Summit which is being held in the Sultanate.

She recalls how petrophysics had progressed from paper based interpretation when she first joined PDO to the current sophisticated methods. PDO delivers gas to the government gas system, which supplies fuel for most of Oman’s power stations and some of its industries, and to the Oman LNG and Qalhat LNG.

GLOBAL CITIZEN



Aisha Al Kharusi

Head Of Corporate Communications & CSR

National Bank Of Oman

Before joining NBO, Aisha worked for the leading aerospace company Boeing between 2003 and 2008. She held the position of deputy regional director – International Relations based in Dubai covering 10 Middle Eastern countries reporting to the president – Boeing International – Middle East region. She was on the Global Corporate Citizenship advisory committee in Chicago headed by vice president of Global Citizenship representing her international peers worldwide.

As a devoted member of society, she is a current board member of AIESEC Oman and Injaz Oman (both being youth driven agencies). Her philanthropic efforts extends as far as initiating a primary school for 230 plus underprivileged children in the island of Zanzibar, Africa.

MORE THAN PROFITS



Areej Mohsin Darwish

Joint Deputy Chairperson

Mohsin Haider Darwish

Areej Mohsin Darwish, as Joint deputy chairperson of MHD, plays a key role in the company’s success. As she says, “to us, earning the goodwill of the community means more than just making profits.” This, she says is what makes MHD a ‘people’s Organisation’ in the truest sense of the word. Areej Mohsin Darwish studied at Oman’s Sultan Qaboos University before embarking on her career.

Her decision to enter the male dominated petroleum sector as an analyst programmer raised a few eyebrows. Areej was named among the ‘100 Most Powerful Arab Women’ by Arabian Business magazine recently. Areej is involved in the decision making process, charting business strategies and operational plans that align objectives with corporate goals.

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR



Badriya Al Siyabi, Manager,

Corporate Affairs, Omran and

Founder, Sidab Women’s Sewing Group

Badriya, the daughter of one of Oman’s first school teachers grew up in a house where the importance of education and community spirit was front and centre. It’s this type of upbringing that paved the way for her to become involved in social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility projects.

She co-founded Sidab Women’s Sewing Group in 2004 which manufactures a range of items from tote bags and greeting cards to cushion covers, tissue box covers and dolls. The items are very popular with local hotels and art galleries. With tourism playing a stronger role in Oman’s economy, hand-made traditional crafts are in great demand.

VISION EMPOWERED



Barka al Bakry

Life Honorary Member of the Al Noor Association for the Blind

A firm believer in the fact that every visually impaired and blind person can take up any job if they are properly trained, Barka is working towards making this goal a reality. As a founding member of the Al Noor Association for the Blind, Barka has been working for the cause of the visually impaired in Oman for over a decade.

She believes that we need to create a society where each and every blind person will be able to lead a life to her optimum potential and be so empowered as to be able to work towards her own growth and development. She is hopeful that an eye bank will become a reality in Oman in the next few years.

CARING FOR SOCIETY

Dr Fatma Obaid Ali

Founder and CEO
Emirates Medical Centre

Dr Fatma began her career with Rashid Hospital, Dubai, as specialist dermatologist in 1995. In 1998 she moved to Oman and joined Al Shatti Hospital as a skin specialist. In 1999 while working at Al Shatti Hospital, Dr Fatma was the first physician in Oman to introduce laser technology in hair removal. She earned the distinction of having done more than 1,000 laser hair removal procedures during that time.

In 2000, Dr Fatma opened a small private clinic of her own with just one nurse and a receptionist. Within two years, the clinic grew in popularity and today EMC has grown into a full-fledged modern centre, offering skin health, anti-aging and rejuvenation services, with over 50 fully motivated and trained staff members.

REDEFINING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Ghada Mohamed Al Yousef

Director
Al Yousef Group

Ghada is close to the family business and was involved in the launch of Majan Telecommunications Company as the first 100 per cent Omani owned mobile reseller ‘renna’ and Ubhar, the first of its kind restaurant with an aim to take Omani hospitality to new heights through both Omani fusion and traditional cuisines. She was recently appointed as deputy chairperson of the Women in Business Forum at the Oman Chamber of Commerce.

After passing out from the Sultan’s School, she graduated with a BSc (honours) in Managements from Royal Holloway – University of London. Ghada also headed the corporate communications of HSBC Bank for a long time.

LEADER PAR EXCELLENCE



Hind Bahwan

Director
Suhail Bahwan Group

Hind is recognised in the Middle East as an enterprising and dynamic businesswoman having founded Bahwan CyberTek in 1999, which is now a leading provider of IT products and Services with more than 1,450 professionals in its workforce rendering products and services in 20 countries across four continents.

In 2011, as chairperson of the Chennai-based Bahwan CyberTek, Hind was conferred the prestigious ‘ABLF Woman Of Power Award’ by the Asian Business Leadership Forum – a platform backed by prominent leaders of core industries across Asia. As one of the directors of the Suhail Bahwan Group, Hind plays a key role in creating a digital society in Oman.

NEW VISTAS

Intisar Al Kindi

Exploration Director
Petroleum Development Oman

Following a Masters of Science degree in Petroleum Geology from Imperial College, University of London, Intisar joined Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) in 1990 as exploration geologist. Her career spans from seismic interpretation in the early 90s, to several broadening assignments in Shell Exploration in UK, Holland, and recently in Shell Jordan as the general manager and country chair for the Jordan Oil Shale Venture.

She returned back to Oman and resumed the position of Exploration Director with PDO in July 2011. Intisar believes that the need for cooperation between oil and gas companies is steadily increasing in view of their endeavours to bring massive production projects on line in shorter times to meet the increasing demand for hydrocarbons.

BRAND CUSTODIAN



Jannat Shafaei

Marketing Director
Bin Mirza International

Most people in Muscat would know BreadTalk, the delightful bakery serving breads ranging from the exotic to the ubiquitous loaf on the table. The person who has introduced this outlet to Muscat is Jannat Shafaei, marketing director of Bin Mirza Internationa (BMI).

Jannat has the responsibility to handle all the brands in the stable of BMI which include among others Second Cup, Nando’s, Cinnzeo, BreadTalk and many more. Over the past several years, Jannat has been instrumental in translating the global strategy of these brands to make them relevent in the Omani context. A key driver of this success has been the numerous immersive training programmes on various brands that she has attended.

VERSATILE PERSONALITY

Lujaina Mohsin Darwish

Joint Deputy Chairperson

MHD

As the head of the Human Resources Omanisation and Training (HROT) department at MHD, Lujaina has built up a well trained and equipped workforce, which has cohesively worked together, to achieve and exceed targets. Lujaina is a versatile figure with lots of remarkable achievements to her credit ranging from being former SQU lecturer, Majlis as Shura member to being voted as one of 50 most powerful women in the region year after year by Forbes Arabia.

She also served on the board of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Lujaina is no stranger to awards. She won the “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” award in 2001 and the “Flame of Excellence” awards in 2002.

CHARTING A NEW COURSE



Malak Al Shaibani

Managing Director
Creative Links

With more than 21 years of combined work experience in leadership positions both in the public and private sectors, Malak has been charting her own course into territories which are not exactly glamourous. She started her career at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry as a market researcher at the Industrial Development Unit. In 2005 ‘Malak joined Sohar Aluminium as the general manager of corporate affairs and human resources. Then in 2011, Malak started her own consultancy Creative Links with a specific focus on strategy development as well as human resources consultancy. In 2012 she partnered with Talent2 an international consultancy firm. She also worked as the general manager of the Youth Fund Sharakah.

LIFE IS A SCHOOL

Maryam Al Zadjali
Chairperson
Dar Al Atta’a

Maryam is the brainchild behind Dar al Atta’a, the renowned charitable organisation that works among the poor. She started Dar Al Atta’a with a small group of friends in 2002 and today, it has become one of the largest charitable organsations in the region. “We try to be the link between the giver and the recipient.

As Islam stresses on sharing a number of people were doing charity, but most of them were repeatedly giving to the same set of people. We have helped them to reach out to a larger group.” She is quick to share credit with her colleagues stating that each board member has a specific responsibility and they work hard to fulfil their duties.

PEOPLE’S PERSON



Munira Macki

Head of Human Resources & Training Division

Bank Sohar

Munira

Macki has plenty of experience in the government and private sectors mainly working among the human resources. Little wonder then that she is head of the Human Resources and Training Division at Bank Sohar. Before this, Munira served as Head of Corporate Affairs at Ahli Bank. She served as deputy director of educational activities, Ministry of Education from 1991 to 1996, headmistress – Ministry of Education from 1988 to 1991 and assistant headmistress of Ministry of Education from 1983 to 1988. Munira holds a Bachelors degree in Philosophy and Psychology from Beirut Arab University Lebanon besides a Masters in Education from Sheffield University and University Certificate from Beirut Arab University.

FIRST LADY OF CORPORATES

Sayyida Rawan Ahmed Al Said

Managing Director & Group CEO

ONIC Holding

With over 23 years of experience in the financial services both in public and private sectors Sayyida Rawan Ahmed Al Said is the first and only Omani lady to hold the position of a CEO in a publicly listed corporate. She is presently the managing director and group CEO, ONIC Holding. Among other positions, she was the deputy chairperson of National Bank of Oman and deputy CEO at State General Reserve Fund of Oman.

Sayyida Rawan is a M.Sc in Economics and Finance from Loughborough University UK. She also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Investment Analysis from Stirling University, UK and BA in Economics and Political Science from the American University, (AUC) Cairo.

STEERING TOWARDS GROWTH

Natasha Yahya Nasib

Director & Chief Public Relations Officer

Yahya Services (Snowhite)

Natasha Nasib, elder daughter of Yahya Mohammed Nasib completed her university education in Switzerland, majoring in business. Upon her return to Oman, and after gaining experience through different positions within the group, she accepted her appointment as Director of Yahya Services (Snowhite) and has steered its remarkable growth over the last several years. Natasha also assumes the responsibility of director of Public Relations for Yahya Group Holding; a position that allows her to provide guidance throughout each division. Her style of management, while result oriented and assertive, revolves around the genuine concern she shows towards the employees of the Group.

ADVOCATING RIGHTS

Sahar Askalan

Principal

Sahar Askalan Legal Advocacy

Sahar is the first Omani woman to open her own law firm in the Sultanate of Oman. Being an Omani with international legal experience, she is striving to raise the standards of legal practice in Oman. Sahar worked at top tier international law firms, Allen & Overy (London), Theodore Goddard (at present Addleshaw Goddard, London), Clifford Chance (Paris) and Richard’s Butler (Abu-Dhabi) before returning to Oman to set up her firm.

She was educated in the US graduating from Boston University of Massachusetts and obtained her dual post-graduate professional qualification at BPP Law School, London. She is a member of the Inner Temple, London and the Law Society of England and Wales and the International Bar Association.

LEADING FROM THE FRONT

Sharifa Mohammed 
Abdulla

Al-Harthy
Deputy Chairperson,

MB Holding

For nearly two decades, Sharifa has been responsible for the personnel and human resources aspects of MB Petroleum Services. She is responsible for advising group companies on human resources policy and development. Sharifa also takes care of government relationships and community development. Sharifa is the wife of Mohammed Al Barwani, the founder member of M B Holding group.

She has a BA in Business Administration from Jordan University (Amman, Jordan), and also holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Texas Southern University (Houston, Texas, USA). She has attended several short specialised courses in human resources, manpower development, training and administration.

TAKING TO NEW HEIGHTS

Sheila Jamal

CEO

Al Madina Development & Supply

Since the time Sheila has taken over Al Madina Development & Supply, the company has scaled new heights, thanks to a steely resolve and determination that hides behind her soft spoken and demure disposition. Al Madina offers complete information technology solutions, system integration, high-level security products and turnkey computer based projects. Al Madina also owns Security Printing Press – Oman, a security printing press specialised in printing of security documents like MICR cheques and different type of ID cards to digital passports. After her graduation in the US she worked as an assistant analyst with NASA International, later joining a Japanese company. In the region she has lived in Kuwait and Oman.

CONTRIBUTING TO BUSINESS



Suhailah M

Al Zubair
Board Member

Zubair Automotive Group

Following the organisational changes effected in mid 2010 in The Zubair Corporation by HE Mohammed Al Zubair, chairman of The Zubair Holding, Suhailah has become a board member of the Zubair Automotive Group. Suhailah balances her commercial role and supervising of the group’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.

She has been mentioned by HE Zubair in his speech to announce the organisational change where he has praised his sons and daughter for their personal development, and contribution to the business, saying that they were fully ready to take the company forward and lead it into the future. Suhailah is also involved with the Bait Al Zubair museum which showcases Oman’s heritage.

SUPPORT THE GREENS



Sayyida Tania bint Shabib Al Said

President

Environment Society of Oman

The concern to conserve Oman’s environment is her heart’s cry and for more than 16 years, Sayyida Tania has been in the vanguard of this noble mission. As the president of the Environment Society of Oman (ESO), Sayyida Tania, together with the members of the ESO, is making every possible effort to educate and spread awareness among the public on environmental issues.

Sayyida Tania was recently honoured at the Sheikh Issa bin Ali al Khalifa Awards for Voluntary Work as one of the leading volunteers in the Arab world for her outstanding contribution to the field of environmental conservation and protection in Oman. The awards function is organised annually by the Good Word Society in Bahrain.

PLAYING A VITAL PART



Wisam Al Said

Manager – Corporate Communications

Bank Nizwa

Work hard, prove yourselves and set achievable goals and in time you will get where you want to be. That is Wisam’s motto in life and it comes from her experience. Having completed her high school diploma at the international school of Paris, Wisam obtained a Bachelor’s degree in International Corporate Communications from the American University of Paris.

She briefly worked with UNESCO and International Chamber of Commerce both in Paris then obtained a Masters degree in Strategic Marketing from Cardiff University in the UK. Wisam was managing Oman Oil Marketing Company’s corporate affairs for quite some time before moving to Bank Nizwa in a similar position. Wisam is happy to be part of the growth of ‘communications’ in the country.

DESTINY’S WINNER

Yuthar al Rawahi

Founder and Chairperson

National Association for Cancer Awareness

The idea of offering support and comfort to cancer patients turned into afternoons in Yuthar’s living room with like minded people, both men and women, who felt that something needed to be done about the lack of information available about cancer in Oman, especially with the growing numbers of Omanis affected by the disease.

Thus was born National Association for Cancer Awareness (NACA) and since then, Yuthar, a three times cancer survivor has been leading the battle against cancer by spreading awareness about the deadly disease and ways to prevent it. Her chairperson’s message on NACA site states – “I am not a doctor, I am not a psychiatrist – I am just a woman who went through an experience”.


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