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One of the most influential businesswomen in the Middle East, Olayan, 58, runs Saudi Arabia’s Olayan Financing. The Middle East arm of the sprawling Olayan Group, it operates 40-plus companies across the region and is one of the biggest investors in local stock markets. Long a trailblazer, Olayan has pushed progressive business practices in the area; she joined the family business in 1983 when few corporate positions in Saudi were held by women. She was the first woman elected to a board position in the Kingdom, joining the Saudi Hollandi Bank in 2004, and became the first woman to deliver a keynote address at a major Saudi conference that same year. A member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum, she is also on the Arab Business Council’s executive committee.

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