AIWF Activities 2018

What Others Say

“We are pleased to demonstrate our commitment to corporate social responsibility within the region by partnering with AIWF in its initiatives aimed at helping women realise their potential in private sector employment, entrepreneurship, investment and growing their businesses, both for personal success and as a contribution to the economic growth of their countries.”

-Eileen Taylor, Global Head of Diversity, Deutsche Bank

AIWF NEWS, February 2010

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Board Of Directors

Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani | President & Founder, Arab International Women’s Forum Fellow, Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow 2017  
Fellow 2017
Commissioner, ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work
Fellow 2017
Commissioner, ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work

Chairmans Pic

Mrs Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani

President & Founder, Arab International Women’s Forum

Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani, is President & Founder of the Arab International Women’s Forum recognised in Arab and international government, private sector and NGO circles as a high-impact change agent focussed on women’s leadership and youth empowerment, working for progress, inclusion, peace and prosperity in the Arab region and internationally.

Haifa founded the Arab International Women’s Forum in London in 2001 as a development organisation committed to supporting women’s leadership in social and economic growth in the MENA region and internationally and creating equality of opportunity for all. Haifa served as the Chair of AIWF for nearly 20 years and under her leadership, AIWF has become one of the world’s most respected development organisations for the economic empowerment of women and young people, working at the highest levels with a global network of corporate, institutional and global advocacy partners to advance momentum for women’s leadership in all sectors and spheres.

Haifa is a development economist, an alumna of the American University of Beirut and read for a Diploma in Economic Development at Oxford University, a Fellow of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative 2017, and a Commissioner of the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work (2017-2019). She brings a wide range of skills and experience to her personal mission of encouraging greater cultural understanding and sustainable economic growth and reform, supporting a strong role for women and young leaders at the heart of that process.

Haifa holds senior roles in several cultural, educational, non-governmental UK, MENA and international organisations. She is a Board Member of the Arab British Chamber of Commerce in London, a Director of the East-West Institute in New York, a Board Member at the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard, and a member of the Harvard ALI Director’s Advisory Council. She is an Advisory Board Member of the Global Thinkers Forum, a former Advisory Board Member of the Imperial College Business School, and also served as an Advisory Board Member of the London Middle East Institute at the SOAS University of London.

Haifa was appointed as the only Commissioner from the Arab world to the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work in August 2017, and also served in 2012 on The Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance chaired by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She was the first Honorary Member of the Euro Mediterranean Association for Cooperation and Development (2012). She became a Fellow of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative in 2017, spending a year in Cambridge MA to undertake the year-long intensive Fellowship to research and address global sustainability challenges.

Haifa Al Kaylani has received international recognition and numerous regional and global awards. Most recent awards include her inclusion by Women in Business Arabia as one of their 365 Inspiring Arab Women 2020, and in Cranfield University’s Women to Watch 2019 supplement launched alongside the Female FTSE Board Report. In 2018, Haifa was the honoured recipient of the Outstanding Golden Shield Award presented by the Arab Women Council in Cairo for her exceptional efforts to enable and advance women and youth through education and economic opportunities in the MENA region and beyond. Also in 2018, she was honoured by the American University of Beirut when she was named amongst the leading women alumni recognised and featured in the book For All Conditions of Men: Stories of Women at AUB, and she has been featured in Forbes Middle East’s LeaderBoard: Standing Out list of High Achievers (July 2017), recognised for her leadership of AIWF and her commitment to encouraging cultural exchange and understanding between communities and promoting gender equality around the world.

Dr Afnan Al-Shuaiby | Chair of the Arab International Women's Forum

Dr Afnan Al-Shuaiby Pic

Dr Afnan Al-Shuaiby

AIWF Chair, Senior Corparate Affairs Specialist and Former Director of External Relations, MENA and Joint Ventures, Shell UAE

Dr Afnan Alshuaiby is the founder and CEO of FNN International, and a senior manager executive with over 20 years of comprehensive large-scale management and successful track record providing fiscal, strategic and operational leadership in uniquely challenging situations in Saudi Arabia, the wider Arab world, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Dr Alshuaiby has held the position of Director General of International Relations in the Ministry of Culture. Prior to that she held the position of Secretary General & CEO Of the Arab British Chamber of Commerce, London, United Kingdom. She was Advisor to the President of the US Saudi Business Council in Washington DC, USA. She also served as Advisor for Government Affairs and Business Development at Qorvis Communications, and Assistant Advisor at Abu Dhabi investment Agency.

Dr Alshuaiby has a PhD In Leadership Administration from the George Washington University, a Masters degree in Educational Administration from the American University Washington DC, a bachelors degree in English Literature from King Saud University Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a Certificate in Executive Education from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a Certificate in Peace and Conflict Resolution from the American University Washington DC.

Dr Alshuaiby is Member of the Advisory Commission at Khalid University, Executive Committee Member of B20 Saudi Arabia, and serves as a Board Member of the Arab International Women's Forum.

Ms Sana Bardawil | AIWF Co-Chair, Senior Corparate Affairs Specialist and Former Director of External Relations, MENA and Joint Ventures, Shell UAE


Ms Sana Bardawil

AIWF Co-Chair, Senior Corparate Affairs Specialist and Former Director of External Relations, MENA and Joint Ventures, Shell UAE

Sana Bardawil is the Regional Communications Director, Middle East and North Africa at Shell

Sana joined Royal Dutch Shell in London in 2001, and currently manages a team of 30 Communications professionals in 10 countries across MENA, working closely with the business, and focusing on the non technical parts of Shell’s work in the region, including the social investment as well as the communications portfolios. Sana is part of Shell’s leadership team in Upstream International MENA.

Sana worked as a journalist for ten years in the UK for the BBC World Service Business programmes, the European Business News and Dow Jones. She then worked as a Communications Adviser for the European Commission in Beirut for a year before returning to the UK to join Shell.

Sana received her M. Phil in Modern Middle East Studies from St Antony’s College, Oxford University. She had obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the American University of Beirut.

Sana is a Committee member of the International Business Women’s Group, Abu Dhabi

Ali Al Janabi  | Chairman of Shell Group of Companies – Iraq &UAE Vice President Shell Upstream – Iraq & UAE


Ali Al Janabi

Ali is the Chairman of Shell Group of Companies in Iraq & UAE. He represents the Royal Dutch Group to the governments of the Iraq and UAE and is accountable for the performance of Shell’s Upstream Joint Ventures in country.

His experience covers the different phases of the project life cycle that includes M&A, project engineering & construction, asset management, financing and trading. His work experience spans across water, energy and banking sectors.

Ali started his career with Taylor Woodrow and had also worked for Halliburton and Goldman Sachs. He is a graduate of Imperial College London where he obtained a Masters of Engineering degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering in 1996, and in 2000 he earned a Master’s degree in Strategic Financial Management. Ali also holds a Financial Services Authority qualification in Financial Regulation & Derivatives.

Ali is British of Iraqi origin.

Ibtehaj Al Ahmadani | Executive Board Member Chairman of the Qatar Business Women Forum Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry Doha, Qatar


Mrs Ibtehaj Al Ahmadani

Executive Board Member, Qatar Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Mrs Ibtehaj Mohammed Ahmed Al Ahmadani is the Chairperson and founder of Al Ahmadani Centre (Health Services and Awareness). Moreover she is a Board Member of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Al Ahmadani Group for General Trading & Construction (they wrote constriction) and the National Health Insurance Company.

Mrs Al Ahmadani has been the Secretary General of the Qatari Business Women Forum from 2000 to 2006. Her area of expertise lies within the field of Manpower Planning and Development in the State of Qatar.

In 2013 Ibtehaj Al Ahmadani has been voted the most influential women in family businesses by Forbs Middle East.

Mrs Al Ahmadani holds a Master Degree in Business Administration of the University of Qatar as well as a Bachelor Degree of Business Studies of the New Hampshire College of Manchester

Oualae Alami | Oualae Alami | Leading Pfizer Oncology Organization - Africa and Middle East

Oualae Alami Pic

Oualae Alami

Oualae Alami | Leading Pfizer Oncology Organization - Africa and Middle East


Oualae gained her initial experience in health care, as retail pharmacist, then Pharmacovigilance Pharmacist in France before joining the pharmaceutical industry in 2000.

She embarked upon her career at Pfizer in 2004 in the primary care division and occupied several positions in marketing & sales as well as new assets planning.

She then joined the specialty care division where she played different leadership positions, first as Specialty and Oncology Business unit Lead in Morocco.

She started her international carrier in 2008 as North Africa Commercial Area Lead for the Anti-Infective Portfolio before moving to Dubai as Africa and Middle East Marketing Director for Oncology and subsequently as the Oncology Lead for Africa Middle East.

Oualae has developed an expertise in several therapeutics areas including Oncology, infectious diseases or pain and has a broad-based experience in Health Care strategies, General Management, and access strategies. Oualae holds a doctorate in Pharmacy from Paris XI University and has a Masters in Business. Marketing, Management and health economics from ESSEC, Paris, France.

She is trilingual and speaks Arabic, French & English

Ms Mona Almoayyed | Managing Director, Y K Almoayyed & Sons

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Ms Mona Almoayyed

Managing Director, Y K Almoayyed & Sons

Mona Yousif Almoayyed hails from one of Bahrain's most established entrepreneurial families. She is indirectly responsible for a staff of 2,000 and approximately 300 brands ranging from luxury goods and home electronics to heavy equipment, medical technologies and concrete. The first woman to be elected to the Board of a publicly traded company in Bahrain - Bahrain Maritime and Mercantile International with reported revenues reaching BD 80m - she further solidified her credentials as a professional pioneer by becoming the first woman to be elected to the Board of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) the following year. It was here that she helped establish and Chaired the Businesswomen's Committee, later becoming Vice President of a similar committee for the regionally focused Federation of GCC Chambers, for which she was somewhat prepared by her existing membership of the Arab League's Committee for Arab Women's Affairs.

These are the occupations that caught the attention of Forbes Arabia in 2008, for whom she ranked 12th on their list of Most Powerful Arab Women yet it is her social commitments that catapulted her to number four on the list of 50 Most Influential People in Bahrain, complied by Bahrain Business magazine in 2009 and more recently she ranked 58th on the list of World’s 100 most Powerful Arab Women, complied by CEO Magazine. Current Chairwoman and a founding member of the Bahrain Businesswomen's Society (BBS), she was the Chairwoman of Migrant Workers Protection Society (MWPS) for 3 terms from 2005-June 2011, is a Board Member of Ebdaa Bank and winner of the King's Cup prize for the Garden Show 2007.

Dr Alanoud Alsharekh | Consultant Researcher, Supreme Council of Planning and Development – Kuwait

Dr Alanoud Alsharekh Pic

Dr Alanoud Alsharekh

Consultant Researcher, Supreme Council of Planning and Development – Kuwait


Dr Al-Sharekh conducts research on regional sociopolitical, cultural and security issues,

and has been Visiting Fellow conducting research on GCC demographics at the LMEI, SOAS, Senior Fellow at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, Senior Political Analyst at the Kuwait National Security Bureau and worked as a gender politics consultant for UNIFEM, Freedom House, and the UNDP on academic and social outreach projects in Kuwait and the GCC.

She holds a BA from King’s College, London and a Master’s and PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Her teaching posts include Kuwait University, Gulf University of Science and Technology, the Arab Open University, visiting lecturer at Uppsala University, Sweden, and Fulbright Scholar on Women and Islam at Whittier College, USA. She has published several books and articles on gender and kinship policies in the GCC, including ‘The Gulf Family’, and ‘Popular and Political Cultures of the GCC’, examining the persistent importance of family and tribe in modern Gulf politics and society.

Her work won the Arab Prize for best publication in a foreign journal for 2013-2014, and the Voices of Success Kuwait Award in 2012.

Mr David Arkless | Founder & Former Chairman, Arklight Consulting Former Global President, Corporate & Government Affairs, ManpowerGroup


Mr David Arkless

Founder & Chairman, Arklight Consulting Former Global President, Corporate & Government Affairs, ManpowerGroup

David Arkless is the former President of Corporate and Government Affairs, ManpowerGroup.

February 2013 saw David return to his previous business of consulting where he is now CEO and Founder of ArkLight Consulting Ltd.

Mr. Arkless is a world-renowned expert on labor market trends and has widespread experience of helping countries to develop their labor market strategies. In 2011, he became Vice President of Ciett, the international confederation of private employment agencies.  He is responsible for governmental and international affairs, and as such has been called to advise the governments of China, Mexico, Vietnam, Serbia and Singapore, as well as to the US Department of State, the European Union and the cities of Shanghai, Tianjin, Dalian and El Paso/Juarez regarding skills, talent, employment and social policy. In May 2010, he became Vice President of the China International Council for the Promotion of Multinational Corporations (CICPMC) in Beijing and is an advisor and supporter of the All Party Political Group on East Asia, empowering the Asian diaspora in the UK society and building links between the East Asian and UK business communities.

Mr. Arkless also manages ManpowerGroup’s strategic relationships with high-profile organizations such as the World Economic Forum, where he is one of the founding members of the WEF’s Global Agenda Council on the Skills Gap. He also supports partnerships with the European Policy Centre and the Clinton Global Initiative, and is an Ambassador for the Centre For Social Justice, an independent think tank based in the UK.

His global areas of social contribution involve, amongst others, being a highly influential campaigner in the fight to end human trafficking and giving refugees real hope for the future through training and work.  Mr Arkless is President of the Board of End Human Trafficking Now, the leading global organization empowering the business community to eradicate human trafficking and modern day slavery, and is Co-Chairman of the Business Coalition Against Trafficking and co-founder of the Washington Business Ending Slavery and Trafficking organization, launched in the first quarter 2012, a not for profit focusing on mobilizing small to medium sized enterprises against trafficking in the US. He has also been at the forefront of ManpowerGroup’s involvement in,  a UN initiative to provide education to the 9 million young refugees all over the world. Mr. Arkless is also a founding member of the Demand Abolition Advisory Council, based in the United States.

Additionally, Mr. Arkless serves as an Advisory Board Member of both the International Organization for Migration and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He also serves as a Board Member of Education For Employment, the pre-eminent US-based foundation that helps unemployed young people and the long-term unemployed in the Middle East and Africa. He is also a board member of the Club of The Hague. In 2011, Mr Arkless joined the advisory board of PNB-NAPEO a public-private partnership that exists to better link young entrepreneurs and business leaders in the United States and the Maghreb.  Earlier this year, he was voted onto the Board of the Arab International Women’s Forum – an organization empowering women and working on inclusion in the Arab world as well as building bi-lateral business links between the Arab world and British business.

He serves as a regular speaker at high profile events including the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations, European Parliament, UK Parliament & House of Lords Select Committees, US Congressional and Senate committees, and at various internationally renowned business schools.

Mr Arkless also leads ManpowerGroup’s involvement with the United States Council on Competitiveness and provides regular expert appearances in national and global media such as the BBC, CNBC, and CNN.

Mr Arkless received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Durham, UK and has completed executive programs at INSEAD, IMD, and the San Jose College of Business.  Mr Arkless is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London.

Mr Hani Ashkar | Middle East Senior Partner & UAE Country Senior Partner PwC Dubai United Arab Emirates


Mr Hani Ashkar

Middle East Territory Senior Partner, PwC

Hani Ashkar is the Territory Senior Partner for the Middle East region of PwC, which comprises the GCC, Levant and North Africa. He joined PwC in 1994 and was admitted as a partner in 2004. As part of his regional leadership role, Hani represents the Middle East on PwC's global Strategy Council as well as the Central Cluster Leadership Team.

Prior to his appointment as Senior Partner for the ME, Hani led the growth of our Deals business into its market leading position, adding business recovery , forensic, deals strategy, corporate finance and capital projects and infrastructure services to our leading transaction services practice. During this period of time, Hani was also the country leader in Saudi Arabia, which witnessed the rapid overall growth of our business there.

Hani started his career with PwC as an auditor, before completing a secondment to London, where he specialised in transaction services for private equity and corporate buyers and also participated in a number of flotations. Upon his return to the Middle East, he helped establish our regional deals business. Hani has advised numerous regional and multinational corporate and private equity investors on mergers and acquisitions across the Middle East region, with a particular emphasis on Saudi Arabia and the GCC. Over the years, he has been involved in over 300 transactions involving a cross section of industries. Hani also has considerable IPO and listings experience, where he has advised on numerous IPOs on the Saudi Stock Exchange. His areas of expertise include diligence, valuations, structuring and corporate finance.

Hani is a US Certified Public Accountant and a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder. He is a graduate of McGill University in Canada and a fluent Arabic and English speaker.

Mrs Nadereh Chamlou | Former Senior Advisor to the Chief Economist for the MENA Region, The World Bank


Mrs Nadereh Chamlou

Former Senior Advisor to the Chief Economist for the MENA Region, The World Bank

Nadereh Chamlou is an international development expert who until September 2013 was a Senior Advisor to the Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa Region of the World Bank. In her 33 years with the World Bank, she held technical, advisory, and managerial positions in economic management, private and financial sector development, infrastructure and environment, and on Latin
America, East Asia and Pacific, Eastern Europe, and MENA.

She co-authored a World Bank flagship report, "Corporate Governance: A Framework for Implementation," and was co-founder and Head of the World Bank/OECD-sponsored Global Corporate Governance Forum.

She authored "Gender and Development in the Middle East and North Africa Region–Women in the Public Sphere," and "The Environment for Women's Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa Region." She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Tunis-based Center for Arab Women's Training and Research; a founding member of the Steering Committee and the Advisory Committee of the Gender Economic Research and Policy Analysis initiative, Member of the Board of the International Iranian Economic Association, Chair of Friends of the Board of the Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund, and the Global Advisory Council of the Global Fund for Women and Girls. She has been an Adjust Professor at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Policy and was a member of the scientific committee of the Dutch Gender Task Force—‘24orMore’. She advises now governments, international organizations, and non-profits on issues related to competitiveness, talent pool management, and gender equality.

She is a graduate of Georgetown's School of Foreign Service and the Graduate School for Economics. 

Mrs Chiara Corazza | General Manager of the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society and a Board Member of RATP

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Mrs Chiara Corazza

General Manager of the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society and a Board Member of RATP

Chiara Corazza, of Italian and English nationality, has a degree from the Institute of Political Science and a doctoral degree in public law from the University of Rome.

She speaks five languages fluently.

Mrs. Corazza began her professional career at the age of 18 as a German teacher at the French high school in Rome, and as journalist at the Daily American, and then she became journalist in international and economic policy at "Il Globo" Italian daily newspaper

Arrived in France in 1985, she became the President of the Greater Paris Region’s Counsellor for International Affaires. She created Metropolis, a worldwide association of large metropolitan areas, and, working in liaison with the French Foreign Office, implemented the Region's international policy.

Mrs. Corazza was named Director of the Department of International Affairs in the Greater Paris Region, that she created in 1992. For seven years, she negotiated and successfully managed bilateral co-operation agreements with Beijing, Tokyo, Moscow, Warsaw, Hanoi, Madrid, Budapest, Montreal, Beirut, Manila, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Santiago in Chile, Johannesburg, New Delhi and Dakar.

In that frame, Chiara Corazza organized a number of economic events in Paris and abroad, working with top business and political executives and welcoming more than a hundred high-ranking foreign delegations to Paris.
In 1994 she opened the Greater Paris representation in Brussels, and created a network uniting all of Europe's capital regions.

From 1995 to 1999, Mrs. Corazza also directed the seminar: "The Foreign Relations of Local Authorities" at the University Paris Descartes.

In 1999 she was appointed as Director of International Affairs of "Paris 2008", in charge to promote Paris's candidature as the site for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Since 2002, Chiara Corazza is Managing Director of the Greater Paris Investment Agency, whose mission is to attract foreign investors to the Greater Paris Region and to lobby to enhance its attractiveness.
Chiara Corazza is member of the Board of Directors of APRIL

At the request of the Minister of Finance, she was appointed member of the Commission for the evaluation of French diplomas in management. She is also member of the Mena-OECD Business Council.
Chiara is Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.

Ms Haruko Fukuda, OBE | Non Executive Director, Investec PLC


Ms Haruko Fukuda, OBE

Non Executive Director, Investec PLC

Ms Haruko Fukuda, OBE was the CEO of the World Gold Council.   Following an extensive

commercial career in the City, including Senior Adviser at Lazard, Vice Chairman of Nikko Europe Plc, and a Partner of James Capel & Co, she has served on the Boards of a number of major international financial and industrial companies including AB Volvo and the Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust PLC. 

She is currently a non-executive Director of Investec PLC, Aberdeen Asian Smaller Companies Investment Trust PLC, Adviser to Braj Binani Group of India.  A graduate of Cambridge University, she is an Honorary Fellow of New Hall, Cambridge, and a member of the Council of the Institute for Fiscal Studies

Mrs Sung-Joo Kim | Chairperson & CEO, MCM Holding AG / Sungjoo Group

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Mrs Sung-Joo Kim

Chairperson & CEO, MCM Holding AG / Sungjoo Group

Sung-Joo Kim (born 1956 in South Korea) is the Chairwoman and CEO of Sungjoo Group and MCM Holdings AG. She was ranked among the "Top 50 Women to Watch" by the Wall Street Journal in (2004) and Selected as one of the "New Century Leaders" in CNN for the Best of Asia in (2003). She is known for being actively involved in promoting women's leadership and for supporting humanitarian causes worldwide.

Once a major luxury player, leather-goods brand MCM dropped off fashion's radar.
Sung-Joo Kim, 53, who established Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and Sonia Rykiel in the Asian market, is bringing it back, reimagining it as a house of timeless elegance. "Recent luxury has been logo-driven and tacky. It's for concubines and women with wealthy husbands," she says. Her classic designs target "the intelligent, professional woman who appreciates quality and value" -- and they seem to be working.

Since acquiring the brand in 2005, Kim has tripled sales, to $280 million annually, and gradually expanded the brand's presence in key markets (in the U.S., it's now available at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's). Kim ploughed $40 million into MCM, but views the investment as more than financial. Disowned by her strict Korean family for choosing her career over a traditional at-home role, Kim sees herself as a champion for ambitious women: "I want to prove that women can do as well as men --and even better."

Raghda Kurdi | Founder & general manager of Advanced Pharma Services

Raghda Kurdi  Pic

Raghda Kurdi

Founder & general manager of Advanced Pharma Services

Advanced Pharma Services , a company that provides franchising and services to the retail Pharmaceutical sector established in 2006. 

Ms. Kurdi was the first woman founding CEO of a pharmaceutical manufacturing Co. in Jordan, where she was the founding CEO of Hayat Pharmaceutical Industries for ten years. 

She serves on the council of the Employment –Technical and Vocational Education and Training Council.

She serves on The Financial Committee on Employment –Technical and Vocational Education and Training Council Fund. Chapter Chair of World President Organization- Jordan Chapter She is founding Board Member and currently Board Member of the Kurdish Cultural Association 

Ms Kurdi got the bronze award for entrepreneurship WOMEN IN BUSINESS AWARD 2012 from the UNCTAD the trade and development arm of the United Nations after competing with ten women from 33 countries. She served as Member of His Majesty King Abdullah II Economic Consultative Council, Member of the Amman City Council for 4 years. In support of women’s issues locally & internationally 

Ms Kurdi Serves on board of the Arab International Women's Forum based in London She also served on the Executive Board of Directors of the International Women’s Forum based in Washington D.C Founding president of the International Womens forum /Jordan Chapter Served as a member of the higher council of the Jordanian National Forum for Women for 15 years She served on the steering committee of the European Jordanian Advancement of Enterprise Program EJADA 

Ms. Kurdi has a B.SC. In Pharmacy from the American University of Beirut and has participated in the Leadership and Team Effectiveness executive program of Yale school of Management. Ms. Kurdi is married to Dr. Izzeddine Katkhuda and mother of 4, Salwa, Izzat, Hind & Mohammad.

Ms Mei Sim Lai | Principal, LaiPeters & Co

Mei Sim

Ms Mei Sim Lai

Principal, LaiPeters & Co


Of Malaysian Chinese origin, Mei Sim Lai has lived in the UK since 1970. A Chartered Accountant by profession she is a Fellow of the ICAEW and ACCA. She became the first female partner of Pridie Brewster (now part of PKF UK LLP) in 1979 and in 2007 she founded LaiPeters & Co,
Chartered Accountants, based in the City of London looking after SME clients including women
entrepreneurs and international clients as well as clients in the charity and voluntary sector.

Alongside her work as a Chartered Accountant, Mei Sim has for the past 22 years, served on the boards of several Public, Private, Charity/ Voluntary sector and City of London organisations.
These include being a Non Executive Director of the world renowned teaching hospital, St Mary’s in Paddington, advising the Prime Minister on the pay of the Top Civil Servants, the Judiciary and the 2 star generals upwards whilst on the Senior Salaries Review Body, advising the Chief of Defence Staff and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence on the MoD Diversity Panel, being a Public Works Loan Commissioner that looks after over £50 billion of UK government lending to local authorities and running the City of London Branch of the Institute of Directors as its Honorary Secretary. Mei Sim is also greatly experienced in advising charities having served on the Boards/committees of several charities such as Womankind, The Attlee Foundation, The Lord Mayor Appeals, the British Red Cross City Christmas Market, Wellbeing of Women, Chinese Welfare Trust and a number of City livery charities.
In 2006, Mei Sim was greatly honoured to be appointed one of Her Majesty the Queen’s Representatives in Greater London, with responsibility for the London Borough of Brent.

Mei Sim’s involvement with women’s groups started in 1983 when she learned about the City Women’s Network in the Financial Times, subsequently joining and becoming its Chairman in 1988. In 2010 she was elected Chairman of Forum UK (now IWF UK), the top women’s organisation in the UK for eminent women of diverse achievement and part of a group of some 4,200 women leaders globally. Mei Sim is a Non Executive Director of IWE (International Women of Excellence), a founder Charter member of PAWA (Pan  Asian Women’s Association) and joined AIWF, when it was founded in 2001.

In 2004 she was appointed OBE for services to Equal Opportunities. She is a Past Winner of TIA100 Women in the World who make a Difference Award. In 2012 she won the Asian Women of Achievement Award in the Public Service category.

In October 2011 Mei Sim was installed as the Master of the Worshipful Company of World Traders, the first ever Chinese person to be Master in the very long history of Livery Companies in the City of London.  She has promoted Trade opportunities in the China and Asia Pacific Region through a series of presentations culminating in a Trade Conference in Shanghai with the Rt Hon The Lord Mayor in September 2012.

Having completed her year as Master she is now the Chairman of the World Traders Charitable Trust.

Mr Robert Lyle | Director, Commonwealth Disaster Management Agency (CDMA)

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Mr Robert Lyle

Director, Commonwealth Disaster Management Agency (CDMA)

Robert Lyle is Director of the Commonwealth and Global Disaster Management Agency

("CDMA"), offering insurance to governments to mitigate against the financial effects of meteorological and geological natural disasters.

In 1999, Mr Lyle - as a member of a workshop organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the World Bank - founded CDMA along with the then Deputy Secretary General, Sir Humphrey Maud.

Mr Lyle is also Managing Partner of Lyle & Partners, an advisory business specialising in emerging markets risk and opportunities.

Mr Lyle read History at Oriel College, Oxford University. His principal career has been in export credit and political risk insurance. He is one of the founding members and currently Non-Executive Director of Berry, Palmer and Lyle. Now known as BPL Global, it is considered to be one of the world's leading independent political risk brokerage firms. Mr Lyle is also Vice President of the British Overseas Territories of the British Red Cross Society, and was appointed as a UN director for global networking for disaster reduction in 2009.

Mr Lyle spent 10 years in China as one of Dr. Henry Kissinger's advisors. He also worked alongside PricewaterhouseCoopers to consult on the viability of contracts within the People's Republic.  Following his time in China, he was appointed EU Advisor in 1991 to the Russian Government on investment Insurance. He was also the worldwide correspondent to China International Economic Consultant from 1983 to 1988, and undertook one of the first ever country research programs on New Europe from 1989 to 1991, researching the future investment climates on behalf of the European Commission.

Mr Lyle spent many years as an advisor to the World Energy Council on trade and political risk insurance, as well as an advisor to the African Trade Insurance program, a World Bank initiative based in Nairobi. From 1992 to 1993, he was active as an advisor to the Islamic Development Bank on export credit regimes.

Mr Lyle is an Emeritus Trustee of the China Oxford Scholarship Fund, a member of the Advisory Group for Natural Disaster Reduction in the UK, and a former rapporteur for Wilton Park (a branch of the FCO). He was also recently appointed as an advisor to the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group, as well as the first President of the recently formed Commonwealth Beekeepers Association.

Mrs Sylvia Perry | Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

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Mrs Sylvia Perry

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

A former senior corporate manager, Sylvia Perry works pro bono in the field of non-governmental and similar organisations and charities as a NGO consultant and has considerable experience in the United Nations field attending key conferences and commissions and also held key organising roles for the UK committee supporting UNIFEM.

Sylvia has worked extensively in international organisations and supporting projects. Key among them was as President of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women from 1996 – 1999 following on from three years as European Coordinator in the same organisation travelling widely and creating awareness and partnerships for the advocacy and project work.

Currently, she is the BPW International Trustee and Chair of the History and Archives committee and in Mexico in October 2008, she was presented with the organisation’s new and highest honour, the Lena Madesin Phillips Award.

Other activities she undertakes are writing books, mentoring and international exchange.

Mrs Hanan Akram Saab | Founder, Co-Owner and Managing Director, Pharmamed


Mrs Hanan Akram Saab Mrs Hanan Saab was born in Choueifat, Lebanon. She spent her scholastic years at the International School of Choueifat where she obtained her Baccalaureate I & II degrees with high distinction. Mrs. Saab then joined the American University of Beirut

Founder, Co-Owner and Managing Director, Pharmamed

(AUB) where she earned her Bachelors degree in Pharmacy with distinction and was awarded the venerated Penrose Award; granted to graduating students with highest scholastic achievements and leadership qualities. She is married and lives in Beirut with her husband and three children.

After practicing hospital pharmacy at the American University Hospital (AUH) for 5 years and despite the unstable political situation and lack of national security, at the end of 1990 she decided to start her own business and founded Pharmamed in 1992, whose main focus was the importation and marketing of medical supplies and novelty pharmaceutical products, based on exclusive representation from renowned foreign companies. Pharmamed currently represents 22 companies from European and US origin. Pharmamed, through its exclusive representation of foreign companies, is one of Lebanon's most trusted suppliers of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, medical supplies and dietary supplements to hospitals, retail drugstores, private clinics, the Ministry of Health and other government institutions. Today, Pharmamed has expanded its activities to Jordan, Syria and other areas in the Gulf, through its network of sub-distributors.

Since 2005, Mrs. Saab became active in issues pertaining to Women empowerment and women in Business and in 2011, she was invited to be a juror in Cartier Women Initiative Award for the MENA region; a global corporate social responsibility initiative launched in 2006, targeting women empowerment in entrepreneurship. Mrs Saab was instrumental in initiating the Cartier MENA award.

Mrs Saab is a member of the Lebanese order of pharmacy and a member of the Association of Lebanese Pharmaceutical Importers. Since 1997 she has been an active member at the Alumni Association of the American University of Beirut, where she served for seven years as the General Secretary of the Pharmacy Chapter, and from 2004-2007 as Chairman of the Association’s Relations and Welfare Committee. Mrs Saab is a founding member of ISC-Sabis Alumni (International School of Choueifat) a member of MEET US Alumni, and MEPI alumni; she was also one of twelve founding members of the Lebanese League for Women in Business (LLWB) where she currently serves as President. A founding and board member of the MENA Business Women Network (MENA BWN) and the executive of the Lebanese Hub, Mrs Saab has also helped founding Rawafed: an NGO dedicated to sponsoring teaching nursing as a profession to high school girls in rural areas.

Ms Niki Tzavela | Member of the European Parliament

Ms Niki Tzavela Pic

Ms Niki Tzavela

Member of the European Parliament

Niki Tzavela is a Former Greek MEP in the European Parliament. She served as Vice-Chair of the Delegation for Relations with the United States of America and Vice-Chair of the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group in the European Parliament. She was a member as well as coordinator of the Committee on Industry, Research, and Energy and a Member of the Delegation for EU-Israel relations. Ms. Tzavela is the European Parliament rapporteur in the following reports; "European Broadband: investing in digitally driven growth (2010-2011)," "Industrial, energy, and other aspects of shale gas and oil (2012-)," and on "Energy roadmap 2050, a future with energy (2012-)". She has also been a MP in the Greek parliament between 1994 and 1996 with the New Democracy Party. Present situation: Member of the New Democracy Party.

Former non political positions include Head of the Greek Manpower Employment Organization (1989-1993), Vice-Chair of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (OEOA), a Vice-Chair of the Kokkalis Foundation, an NGO based in Greece with a mission to promote cooperation and education initiatives in Southeastern Europe, East Mediterranean and the Middle East (1996-2009). She ran the Kokkalis Foundation Program for Southeastern Europe at Kennedy School Harvard University for 12 years. Mrs. Tzavela has been Executive Director for International Development of the Antenna TV Group S.A (2007-2009), Vice President of BoD of INTRACOM S.A. Hellenic Telecommunications and Electronics Industry (2007-2009), and Vice President of the Latsis Foundation.

Niki Tzavela attained her Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Psychology from Howard University in Washington, DC and her Master’s in Labour Economics from Leeds Technical University.

She is a fellow of the Eisenhower, Adenauer, Fulbright Foundations, American Field Service fellow, as well as an Honorary Member of the Arab International Women's Forum (from 2004). Furthermore, Ms. Tzavela was a member of the Dean’s Council at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. (1998-2009)