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Here is a look at the recent Forbes list of top Women Behind Middle Eastern Brand 2020
06 August 2020

Ramallah-Nisaa FM- These trailblazers have sustained their brands in the region despite the COVID-19 pandemic


Iraqi-American Huda Kattan, who was named amongst America’s Richest Self-Made Women 2019 by Forbes with a fortune estimated at $610 million, tops the list again this year. She launched a beauty blog in 2010 and in 2013, together with her two sisters Mona and Alya, Kattan established her Huda Beauty brand, which began with a collection of false eyelashes. She later launched Instagram and YouTube channels, which today have a following of over 46 million and four million subscribers, respectively.

Lebanese – American designer Reem Acra, who found fame in Hollywood by dressing celebrities such as Halle Berry and Beyoncé is also on the list. A graduate of American University in Beirut she went on to pursue her studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and École Supérieure des Arts et techniques de la Mode in Paris. She established Reem Acra New York in 1997. Today, her brand signature carries ready-to-wear, bridal and haute couture collections.

Azza Fahmy’s passion for jewelry design started over 50 years ago. She studied in London and undertook apprenticeships in Egypt to eventually become one of the Middle East’s most renowned jewelry designers. Pieces by Azza Fahmy Jewellery have been worn by Hollywood stars including Julia Roberts, Naomi Watts, and Shailene Woodley. Fahmy’s two daughters, Fatma and Amina Ghali, are the company’s Chief Executive Officer and Head of Design, respectively.

Dima Rashid established Dima Jewellery in 2002. Her pieces are a fusion of bespoke gemstones and gold, and have been worn by Queen Rania of Jordan, Vanessa Willams, Adriana Lima, and Eva Mendes. In 2019, Dima Jewellery increased its revenues by 34% and units sold by 57%.

Lebanese designer Nada Ghazal founded her brand in 2003, and has since launched boutiques and points of sales between Lebanon, the U.S. and the U.K. In 2019, Ghazal rebranded from “Nada G” to “Nada Ghazal Fine Jewelry” and began to focus on expanding globally. Her customers include global and regional celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen, Teyana Taylor, Shanina Shaik, Olivia Palermo, Miley Cyrus, Jada Pinkett Smith, Nancy Ajram, and Wael Kfoury.

Moroccon Salwa Akhannouch launched her cosmetics brand Yan&One in 2017, which counts a handful of regional and global celebrities as fans. Her clients include Maître Gims, Nora Fatehi, RedOne, Youssra, and Maya Diab. She is also the founder and CEO of the Aksal Group, which is the exclusive distributor of leading commercial brands in Morocco, including Fendi, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Zara and many more.

Lebanese designer Gemy Maalouf opened her atelier in Beirut in 1996, which now has a presence in top fashion capitals like Milan, Paris, New York and in 48 different countries. She developed a fascination for textiles at an early age since her father owned a owned a fabric factory. Today, some of her famed creations have been worn by Lady Gaga, Kesha, Helene Segara, and Carmen Electra.

Jude Benhalim is a cairo based designer who founded her namesake jewelry brand in 2011, when she was just 17 years old. Benhalim’s pieces are inspired by her Middle Eastern roots, where she sources and produces all of her designs. She now aims to expand the brand’s international presence even further by shifting its retail to online post COVID-19. Since then her pieces have been worn by some of the biggest names in Hollywood, from supermodels Kendall Jenner and Adriana Lima to actress Joey King.

Razan Alazzouni’s influence on the Saudi fashion industry was recently highlighted when she was invited to take part in Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Vision 2030 campaign. She established her eponymous fashion brand more than a decade ago, after studying at TUFTS University’s School of Fine Arts in the U.S. Her designs have since been seen on stars such as Elizabeth Banks, Emma Roberts, and Kendall Jenner. She has more than 500,000 followers on Instagram.

Lebanese Shoe designer Andrea Wazen trained under the tutelage of Rupert Sanderson and Christian Louboutin before relocating to London in 2010 and launching her brand in 2013. Celebrity fans include Kylie Jenner, Jennifer Lopez, Catherine Zeta Jones, Hailey Bieber, Emilia Clarke, Demi Lovato, and Demi Moore. Designed and produced in Beirut, the Andrea Wazen brand supports local livelihood and artisans.