Introducing the first ten of our inspiring Raemona 40 over Forty list. These powerhouse women from around the world have brought their wisdom, experience and passions to the UAE fields of mental health care, financial empowerment, beauty, entertainment, public relations, food, media, functional medicine and Law. We can’t wait to share the other 30 ladies on the list throughout April, but for now, meet this first group of 10 awesome women.
1. Dr Saliha Afridi
Managing Director and Clinical Pyschologist, Lighthouse Arabia
In the midst of the greatest mental health crisis we have ever known, few are doing more to advocate the importance of mental health and the need for true community and corporate support than Dr Saliha Afridi, founder of leading mental health centre Lighthouse Arabia. Many of us will have seen one of Dr Saliha’s live public sessions over the past two years, and it is hard to miss her passion and commitment to making a difference in this area, all done with impeccable grace, beauty, and style.
Raised and educated in the US, Dr. Saliha moved to Dubai in 2008, and worked at a private practice for several years, and in 2011 co-founded The LightHouse Arabia with the intention of making a positive impact on the mental health of individuals and families living in the region.
“The most important person you will ever meet is your true self, the most important lessons you will ever learn are the ones you already knew, and the most important journey you will ever take is the inner journey” says Dr. Saliha
2. Ruth Bradley
Founder of Ruth Bradley Consulting
One of the leading PR and communications professionals in the region and a true tastemaker, Ruth specializes in luxury lifestyle brands and was included in Harper’s Bazaar Creative Power List 2021.
After a career in luxury fashion with LVMH and as Editor of Emirates Woman magazine, Ruth is the ultimate in fashion communications. A staunch advocate of animal welfare, and standing up for all things ‘right’ globally, we truly are influenced by Ruth. We love how she juggles family and work whilst always keeping it real, good and bad.
3. Becky Anderson
Journalist and CNN News Anchor
Becky Anderson is a British journalist, and the anchor of CNN International's flagship news and current affairs primetime news program Connect the World. Anderson is based in CNN’s Abu Dhabi bureau, allowing her a distinctively regional perspective on some of today’s most important news stories.
Anderson is a skilled interviewer, adept at close questioning and has interviewed many of the world's leading politicians, decision-makers & thought-leaders. She has conducted one-on-one interviews with top world leaders, including, Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, South African President Jacob Zuma and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. She is equally at home with celebrities, quizzing the world's A-listers, including Lupita Nyong’o, Oprah Winfrey, Juliette Binoche, Andrew Lloyd-Weber, Beyoncé, George Clooney, Lady Gaga, Tom Hanks, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt.
4. Dr Shefali Verma
Partner and Medical Director of the Institute for Biophysical Medicine in Dubai
Dr Shefali is an integrative General Practitioner with a special interest in functional medicine. One of the most well-regarded medical professionals in Dubai, Shefali describes herself as a medical detective, looking at her patients holistically in her approach.
Dr Shefali has held many prestigious previous appointments, providing private consultations for major corporate organisations, government offices and private clients including The Prime Minister’s Office at the Government of Dubai, Emirates NBD, The Executive Council at the Government of Dubai and Nasco Koraoglan Insurance. In 2010, Dr. Shefali Verma became a Functional Medicine Specialist in Dubai Healthcare City.
As a functional medicine specialist, Dr. Shefali specializes in the treatment and management of a variety of chronic conditions. Food intolerance and allergies, management of digestive diseases, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, detoxification, prevention of disease and weight management are just some examples of what Dr. Shefali deals with on a day to day basis.
The mother of twin daughters, this accomplished doctor enjoys sports in her spare time.
5. Maria Dowling
Creative Director and Owner, Maria Dowling
The Middle East’s ‘Queen of Colour’, salon founder Maria is known for intuitively creating the most natural, flattering colour for her clients, and with a successful career spanning 30 years, has made her mark as the region’s leading hair colourist with a cult-like following. Maria, a firm favourite with the Raemona team, has also created an eponymous line of products and brushes sold online and via her Dubai salon, which celebrates 20 years in Dubai in 2022.
6. Gail Clough
Co-founder, The Laughter Factory
Gail started the now legendary ‘Laughter Factory’ comedy club with Duncan Jones 25 years ago this year and is still a major player on the Dubai nightlife scene, bringing the funniest comics in the world to the UAE every month to entertain comedy fans. Names from Jason Manford to Russell Peters and Michael McIntyre have graced the stage at The Laughter Factory. And in a time where a giggle is needed more than ever, The Laughter Factory has stood firm. “Most of life is mundane and dull. I love to work with people who sparkle and create exciting moments. That’s what makes the whole big mess worthwhile,” she says. “I reckon, if I can make people’s lives a bit easier, this transcends any cultural barriers.” We agree Gail.
7. Keren Bobker
Independent Financial Advisor and Journalist.
“Above all I see my role as advising people on how to get the best out of their finances, how to protect their family and how to achieve their goals with practical and honest advice” is how Keren describes herself. We see her as the UAE’s very own ‘Miss Moneypenny’ and admire her mission to keep us all on the sensible straight and narrow. Keren also makes the list for her unwavering commitment to educating the UAE population on money matters, and often ‘those things nobody wants to talk about’ including wills and estate planning, pensions and more. Keren has written the ‘On Your Side’ money advice column for The National, weekly for over 10 years, as well as her unwavering support of UAE residents via numerous online forums and groups, and regularly appears on local radio offering solutions on work and money.
8. Hanane Benkhallouk
Founder, Tawazoun , Executive Director, Sustain Leadership, Author.
Hanane is an award winning senior consultant with a broad scope of expertise and
exposure to international markets. With diverse career that started in New York city before moving to Dubai in 2005, Hanane’s multi-industry working experience includes being in charge of innovation and entrepreneurship programs across the Arab World, at the Mohammed bin Rashid AlMaktoum foundation. Hanane works today as the Executive Director of Sustain Leadership consultancies, as a culture change and certified innovation strategist, Hanane supports corporates, government institutions, NGOs and SMEs, in building human centric business models, and creating cultures of innovation. Hanane has pioneered a multitude of initiatives which stemmed from her passion to cultivate entrepreneurial and innovative mindsets, accelerate the gender balance agenda, and advance the MEA region towards a knowledge based economy.
More recently, Hanane founded Tawazoun, (which means balance in Arabic) the first think-do tank and platform in the Middle East that aims at cultivating balanced people, work environments and societies.As a published author, with two co-authored books, Hanane recently published “SEEDS of Change”. Her articles are also published in Harvard Business Review Arabic, Forbes Middle East and Arabian Business among others.
9. Monica Malhotra
Founder, The Gaggler
Previously based in NYC as a VP with Goldman Sachs, Monica located to the UAE in 2009, bringing ‘Kidville’ - the US-based ‘Kidutainment’ concept with her, setting up in JBR.
The Gaggler was launched in 2018 as a free and accessible platform that informs, educates, and inspires women – “not the wife, the mother, the daughter - but the feminine energy at the very core of each of these identities, so that she can be the best version of herself, for herself” The Gaggler is now a community that reaches over 40,000 women via its website and events and shares content that is impactful, inclusive, and most importantly, authentic.
10. Nana-Serwa Mancell
With a law degree and a career in corporate communications, Nana has merged the worlds of healthy vegan food and aromatic Ghanaian cuisine to provide a bespoke delivery and catering service in the Emirate of Dubai. “Even if you look internationally, you would be hard-pressed to find vegan African restaurants, so in Dubai, we are certainly the sole occupants in our sector. What we offer -very tasty comfort food- is something not usually associated with vegan food, and this pushes us further to the front,” says Nana. Now known for her ‘pop up’ experiences across town, “ “Veghana is not just about food, but also art, culture, music, and conversation,” she explains. “Our events are intentionally a sensory overload experience in an attempt to undo the negative connotations around Africa; an explosion of sound, sight, and taste that we know people find totally compelling.”