Haifa Al Kaylani OBE

Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani OBE is the AIWF President and Founder. She is a Fellow of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative (2017) and served as a Commissioner on the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work (2017-2019). In December 2023 she was appointed to the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in King Charles’ 2024 New Year Honours List, in recognition of her services to Women, Young People and to Cultural Relations between the United Kingdom and the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

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Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani OBE is President & Founder of the Arab International Women’s Forum, and is 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, diversity and inclusion, sustainability, food and water security, education and the Future of Work, 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 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. She was appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in King Charles’ New Year 2024 Honours List in recognition of her services to Women, Young People and to Cultural Relations between the UK and the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Haifa is a development economist, an alumna of the American University of Beirut and read for a Diploma in Economic Development at Oxford University. In January 2017, Haifa Al Kaylani became a Fellow of the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University as one of 46 global leaders selected for an intensive, multi-disciplinary program and yearlong Fellowship to research and address significant social problems, undertaking the Fellowship through 2017 to carry forward on a global level the mission to which she has devoted over three decades of her life – the empowerment and advancement of Arab women and youth through job creation, entrepreneurship, education, and economic empowerment, in the MENA region and internationally. The key outcome of her Fellowship has been a sustainable agriculture project currently being piloted in Jordan for which Haifa has secured World Bank funding.

Haifa was the only Arab Commissioner to serve on the International Labour Organization’s Global Commission on the Future of Work (2017-2019). As an ILO Commissioner, Haifa contributed to the flagship report of the ILO published in January 2019, Work for a brighter future, which articulated the ILO framework for mitigating future of work challenges. 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, which works to advance trade relations and cultural cohesion between the Arab world and the United Kingdom and for which Haifa has worked tirelessly to promote trade between the MENA region and the UK. She has served as a Livery Member of the Worshipful Company of World Traders for many years and has been admitted to the Freedom of the City of London.

Haifa is also a Member of The Stimson East West Council on Track II Diplomacy, a Global Advisory Committee Member of QS, a member of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative Director’s Advisory Council and a longstanding Harvard Women’s Leadership Board (WLB) Member, having been a member of the Harvard WLB for 20 years and a member of the WLB Executive Committee. In 2023, Haifa was appointed to the Board of Medurable, a Paris-based non-profit of Water Champions committed to advocating for peace and sustainable development.

Haifa is also an Advisory Board Member of the Global Thinkers Forum, a former Director of the East-West Institute in New York, 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 served in 2012 on The Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance chaired by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She was also the first Honorary Member of the Euro Mediterranean Association for Cooperation and Development (2012).

The many awards and honours that Haifa has received during her voluntary service career speak to the high regard in which she is held. These rewards also recognise the significance of the contributions that she has made over the years and continues to make to advance women and young people in the UK and in the Arab World. She remains an eloquent and compelling champion for many good causes, ensuring that women’s voices are heard, their contributions are recognised, and their priorities are addressed.