Week two, and ten more phenomenal women over the age of forty - all continuously leaving their mark on the UAE landscape. From comedy to media, tech, finance, community building, fashion, leadership, entrepreneurship, motivational and inspirational - these women are not only making waves but cementing their passions and skills and making a true difference - no platitudes here.
We’ll be sharing our 40 over FORTY every Monday in March 2023, and we can’t wait to share the upcoming 20 ladies on the list throughout the month, but for now, meet this second group of 10 amazing women.
1. Julie Lewis
Speaker, Adventurer, Facilitator, Author
Showing everyone that age and perceived ability is zero barrier to ‘moving mountains’, Julie specialises in working with organisations to create resilient, healthy teams who will succeed in a challenging and changing marketplace.
With over 30 years of experience in leading multinational teams in challenging and unpredictable environments - Julie is uniquely known for walking the walk, with her signature expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
Over the last 19 years, she has led multi-national teams of women and men on 61 expeditions to over 20 countries which certainly gives her a leading edge when it comes to adaptive resilience.
Julie's resilience programs use stories gleaned from real-life adventures that are backed by her science-based academic studies that create actionable strategies that can be applied immediately to build, boost and broaden resilience in business, life, and sports.
Julie is the author of C-Suite Best Selling book Moving Mountains - Discover the Mountain in You
Instagram handle: @juliemileslewis
Comedian and Performer
Mina's present-day story includes a move across the globe to pioneer a comedy scene in Dubai. It was a two-week gig that has lasted 15 years and counting and has produced one interfaith marriage, two young twin Muslim sons, and countless mentees.
From performing on Broadway in the smash show ‘STOMP’ to her performances on Comedy Central, MTV and a run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Mina continues to entertain globally with her one-woman shows from her base in the UAE - alongside fellow comedy pioneer, Ali Al Sayed, her partner in life and laughs as co-founders of Dubomedy Arts since 2008.
The duo also founded the Clowns Who Care Project, which brings joy, awareness, and support to centres for children with special needs, refugee camps, and hospitals.
Most recently, Mina has created her multimedia one-woman show Growing Up Ringside, which talks about being the daughter of an Italian American boxing promoter and how God's path led her to Dubai. The show debuted at the Dubai Comedy Festival and Mina was able to take the show to her native New York to close out the ROC NY Fringe Festival so that her parents, grandparents, family, and friends could experience it live despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
3. Tamara Pupic
Managing Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East
Tamara has been at the forefront of Entrepreneur Middle East since 2017. She previously spent 3 years at Arabian Business, focusing on the ‘start-up’ coverage and output across the GCC, and two years as an assistant editor in Qatar. At Entrepreneur ME, Tamara has created the most informative and authentic media outlet for the region, within the scope of business storytelling and thought leadership.
Tamara is a writer and storyteller who combines and utilises her law background, writing skills, and creative and analytical mind to deliver measurable business results and eminently readable content.
With a passion for building and contributing to community outreach and volunteer educational programs, Tamara is committed to using her words and actions to help ideas, people, and communities thrive.
Instagram Handle: @tashapupic
Twitter Handle: @tashapupic
4. Ayshwarya Chari
Ayshwarya is a microbiologist by education and has completed her Masters at Goa University. Before becoming the co-founder of 1115 Inc, she had worked in senior management positions at First Gulf Bank and the online stores 6am babies and Kidore.
From her own e-commerce experience, Ash felt that there was no regional accessible expertise available for the SME business owner and for this reason, 1115 Inc was born.
Alongside her co-founder, Shraddha Barot, 1115 Inc was created in 2020 to offer e-commerce advisory and consulting services and help navigate the digital business space. 1115 inc works with family businesses as well as startups and offers a number of services from market research, branding, packaging, and printing to tech assistance, recruitment, performance marketing, fundraising, website, and app development, and supports majoritively female founders to find the correct foundations in the tech-based space - something that has previously been notably absent.
Bridging the gender gap in the tech support space is something close to Ayshwarya’s heart. Women comprise nearly half, or sometimes more, of STEM students in MENA. Although the number of women STEM graduates coming into the workforce needs to pick up the pace, there is a lot of hope, with female entrepreneurs such as Ayshwarya leading the way in the region.
Instagram Handle: @ashchari
5. Helen Farmer
Broadcast Journalist, Editor and Host
Helen Farmer has cemented herself as the broadcast community voice for women, families, education, and health. Her UAE career started with editor roles at Explorer Publishing, What’s On, and ‘Good’ Magazine, for Motivate Publishing, her own online platforms, and now as a senior presenter at Dubai Eye 1038 with her own afternoon show.
Every weekday afternoon, Helen helps us to navigate the highs and lows of life in the UAE. Keeping us up to date with what’s happening and where to go with free advice, expert opinion, and storytelling which gives an inside scoop into real-life UAE.
From her broadcast journalism degree at Leeds University, Helen has come full circle sharing her compassionate and empathic voice across the UAE on her eponymous show which resonates with so many on a grassroots level. Sharing her own family journey via her Instagram profile, Helen connects with so many of us as we navigate the messy, sandy, traffic-strewn, yet (almost) always sunny lifestyle of the UAE, with her unique ‘real life’ slant, and is a popular brand ambassador, voice-over artist and MC.
Instagram Handle: @_helenfarmer_
6. Marilyn Pinto
Founder at KFI Global, Author
Marilyn is the founder of award-winning KFI Global, since 2016, the UAE's leading provider of financial education for teens and young adults. KFI Global works to see youngsters equipped with the financial education they need in order to make smarter money decisions so that they don't repeat the mistakes of previous generations. Education covers topics such as understanding credit cards, the fundamentals of investing, developing an entrepreneurial mindset, and more.
Having seen firsthand a gap in her then eight and ten-year-old daughters' understanding of money, she soon found that other kids also seemed to have the same issue. In the last 4 years, KFI Global has taught over 3500 youngsters and has worked with organisations in the UAE including Emirates NBD, National Bonds, TECOM Group, and Dubai Holding.
On founding KFI Global, Marilyn says “ Financial empowerment - That’s what I wish I had been taught as a teenager. It hurts to even think about the impact this would have had on my life. And I know most adults feel the same way. So I wasn’t taking any chances with my daughters, I wanted to ensure that they had the skills and mindset they needed in order to be self-reliant and financially secure”
Instagram Handle: @marilynlydia11
7. Navine El-Desouki
Founder & President at Coffee With An Expat
Navine is a seasoned ex-pat of over 23 years with eight international relocations behind her from Australia, Europe, the USA, and the Middle East. When she moved to Dubai 7 years ago, she started noticing others' struggles with ex-pat life as she had in the past and felt the need to reach out to do something. Before she knew it, she was hosting her first gathering. That first gathering was the beginning of ‘Coffee with an Expat’ and the journey to becoming a true community.
‘Coffee with an Expat’ has now become a global platform for ex-pats and a community of support, a safe space where expat women can build connections, engage in meaningful discussion, and attend meet-ups, events, and workshops.
During the pandemic, talks shifted naturally online, and with women from around the world. This was the opportunity to open up connections from different regions to participate and access information and support, alongside sharing their own thoughts, recipes, business opportunities, collaborations, and more.
Coffee with an Expat offers members opportunities to learn and share passions, socialise, and meet with others both online and in-person across a multitude of inclusive events.
Instagram Handle: @coffeewithanexpat
Fashion, Retail, and Business Consultant
Máire, known as Mo, Morris is a born entrepreneur and expanded her self-named consultancy from Dublin to Dubai.
Irish-born and raised Mo started out as a fashion designer herself and started her first business at 20 years old and since then she has worked and run businesses in every facet of the fashion, retail, and lifestyle industries.
Morris Global Consulting was founded as a way for brands and retailers to get an A-Z of services as the journey of starting or scaling a brand or business is often very overwhelming. MGC services cover everything from business management, branding, marketing, customer service training, funding preparation to design, sustainable sourcing, and global production for clients all over the world- from small Independent brands, tech businesses to well-known global names and with a heavy focus on education in these sectors also.
Mo is a walking, talking advocate for everything her business encompasses, and recently opened her own salon outlet in Nad Al Sheba, Cedora. She is also a partner in a gourmet food company and is active on the regional female-focused investment scene. She is an active mentor and supporter of women in business and shares her knowledge and vibrant personality, alongside her own business journey constantly via her own social media platforms as well as being a true champion of independent fashion businesses, in a sector that needs all the cheerleaders it can in a busy market. Mo is also a business consultant for Enterprise Ireland.
Instagram Handle: @mo_derrymore
9. Emma Burdett
Founder and CEO of WILD: Women in Leadership Deliver
With 9 years working in the region, Emma took a pandemic break from her role within the construction and design industry to focus on her passion for working with women leaders within the space - and to bridge the gap in education, support, and empowerment for females within the sector to launch WILD: Women in Leadership Deliver.
What originally started as four women sitting around a table with a sheet of paper has since become a staple, vibrant, and integral network within the UAE with future growth plans of scaling further across the GCC and also plans to launch WILD UK.
WILD is a platform for all women to come together, create connections, collaborate, and conquer. The WILD philosophy stems from an authentic desire to transform, evolve and step up. WILD seeks to inspire women to become agents of possibility; helping women advance in the workplace and to achieve personal growth. WILD is the first women’s platform of its kind to cross the GCC with WILD Riyadh opening in KSA in January 2023 and is now a subscription-based platform that offers members a multitude of learning and networking options through online resources and offline events.
Emma is an advocate for gender balance, diversity, and inclusion, and regularly writes and comments in leading media outlets on these topics. She has recently been recognised as a LinkedIn ‘ Top Voice’ - a program by LinkedIn that includes an invitation-only group of experts across the professional world.
10. Najla Al-Midfa
CEO, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa)
Recognised as one of Forbes Middle East's 100 most powerful businesswomen 2023, Emirati Najla Al-Midfa has steered Sheraa to become the most innovative and impactful organisations in the GCC. Sheraa leads the way in the field of entrepreneurship, business support, and education, notably with the always anticipated Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival.
Under the visionary leadership of Najla, Sheraa offers entrepreneurs a touchpoint at every stage of the startup lifecycle, providing the support necessary to turn ideas into reality, and creating a solid foundation on which sustainable businesses and thriving careers can be built.
Sheraa is a government entity that has supported over 150 startups, which have collectively raised around $128 million in investment and generated over $187 million in revenues.
Prior to Sheraa, Najla was a senior manager at the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, where she led a team of business counselors through the due diligence process. During her tenure, she also designed and led several youth-related initiatives. Najla was previously a senior associate at McKinsey and Company‘s New York office, where she worked on a range of strategy-related projects. Her work experience also includes key roles within PricewaterhouseCoopers and Shell. Al Midfa is also a vice chairperson for Young Arab Leaders, a member of the U.A.E.-UK Business Council Advisory Committee, and a member of the board of directors for Dana Gas, among others.
Instagram Handle @sheraasharjah