10 Young Bahraini Women You Should Know About

It’s Bahraini Women’s Day, a day where we celebrate women's achievements and their critical role in shaping up our society. It’s also a day to remember that we still have a long way to go in closing the gender gap in the job market. But for today, we want to highlight stories that are happening around us in our community that we personally consider inspiring.

You see, when compiling this list, we were sitting in the office with a pen and paper, having a simple discussion “Who can we feature on this article?” with a goal of having 5 names (that clearly didn’t work). By the end of the discussion, we had at least 30 incredible Bahraini Women to consider for this article (and these are just the people we know directly).

Our objective with this article is not to highlight the top women, or most achieving or even rank people in any way, but to highlight individuals who work/are working every day and building meaningful careers for themselves and their society. We wish we could make this a list of a 100 Bahraini Women, and maybe we will one day, but for now, here are 10 equally amazing Bahraini women that you all need to know about, and what drives their career and their hopes for other Bahraini women:

Aisha Abdulmalek

A young Bahraini talent, Aisha started her jewelry brand, Aisha Jewels Co., in 2014 in Bahrain at the age of 17 while still attending secondary school. Since then, Aisha Jewels has become one of the fastest growing jewelry brands in the region showcasing its unique designs in internationally recognized venues in Bahrain, Sharjah, and Dubai. While attempting to manage the ever-growing challenges of a startup together with a demanding university life is a formidable task, Aisha managed to compete with the best in the market gaining herself and her company many recognition awards. Aisha Jewels was awarded the Most Distinguished Business in Bahrain as part of the GCC’s first youth entrepreneurs council held in Bahrain in 2016 and won the Bahrain title of the best Student Run Company in the Global Student Entrepreneur Award competition in March 2017. In November 2017, Aisha was honored by HRH the Crown Prince of Bahrain in naming Aisha Jewels Co. the Micro Business of the year. Aisha is currently in her final year at the Royal University for Woman majoring in Fashion Design. Aisha is a prolific artist and spends her scarce free time in painting and teaching jewelry designs.

"What's the driver behind your career?"

Like many important things in our lives entering the field of jewelry design was a coincidence. Seeing the recognition in the eyes of my first few clients in 2014 was such an intoxicating feeling that still drives me to challenge myself every waking moment.

"What are your hopes for Bahraini women?"

I think that Bahraini women are empowered and supported to levels comparable with the best counties in the world. Any perceived barriers to unleashing their talents, which are abundant, is purely psychological. I hope that they recognize this fact and break through to gain the success they deserve. It is a lot of fun!

Fajer Mufeez

Fajer Mufeez is a pilot & quality assurance manager by profession, a humanitarian activist by passion and a traveller by heart. Fajer is the chairwomen of" Ayadi” Relief organization, the first Bahraini youth-led & youth run organization that focuses on the provision of education and social aid both locally and internationally. Fajer is passionate about involving the youth in volunteering and humanitarian work, and developing their skills and character.

"What's the driver behind your career?"

I work as a quality manager in a private aviation company, the main driver behind my career is to make the kingdom of Bahrain a pioneer in private aviation sector.

"What are your hopes for Bahraini women?"

I hope that Bahraini women excel in all fields, and become inspiring leaders in their perspective industries.

Jehan Al Khateeb

Jehan Alkhateeb is a Mass Communication Student and a Youth Activities Specialist at the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs. Jehan has worked as the head of outreach at the Nasser Bin Hamad International Youth Creativity Award where participation increased by 216.5% from the previous edition. She was also a juror at Doha Film Institute’s Ajyal Youth Film Festival and her film “Jahanamiya” won best actress award and got nominated for best film and best script in the Red Carpet short film festival in Bahrain. Additionally, Jehan worked as a photojournalist at a magazine for university students called CO-EDS. Jehan was also an intern at Al Riwaq Art Space, which is a leading non-profit space supporting contemporary art in Bahrain.

"What's the driver behind your career?"

I have a job that is aligned with my values, interests, passions and even hobbies. It’s moving me closer toward fulfilling various pieces of what I have decided is my life’s purpose which is serving the youth and giving a chance to shine.  It’s interesting, challenging, and rewarding. You get to witness the results of your work immediately and that feels great. It makes you feel like the world is a better place because of something you have done. The work environment is also very supportive. The people I work with are young, wonderful, outstanding, and talented which also allows to get more work done while enjoying it.

"What are your hopes for Bahraini women?"

Equality! We have achieved so much but still, there is a long way to go. I hope that young girls will have on limits and go chase their dreams and future without fear or limits. Empowerment is important to help our girls achieve their full potential which is critical to creating meaningful and sustainable change in societies.

Latifa Al Khalifa

Latifa Al Khalifa is a researcher and curator who found her passion for the arts by combing through the galleries and museums of London, whilst carrying out her MA in Cultural and Creative Industries at King’s College London.  Upon graduation in 2012, she focused her energies on championing the myriad of uncelebrated talents from my region. Following the success of “IN THE OPEN”, an exhibition curated in collaboration with Edge of Arabia and The Bahrain Museum, and further to collaborations with the QMA and Al Riwaq Art Space, Latifa founded her own company Too Far Co. in 2016, with the support of Bahrain Development Bank and Tamkeen. Since then, Too Far Co. has showcased the work of Bahraini artists in offline and online exhibitions. Earlier this year, Too Far Co. represented Bahrain in the Sikka Art Fair in Dubai and has been invited to join the online art platform, ARTSY.

"What's the driver behind your career?"

My father was a diplomat, so in my early years, I knew I wanted to represent something bigger than me. And like many others, I tried out a few different things before I finally found my passion. Ironically, I wasn't an art aficionado growing up, and I barely passed art class. But the art world I was introduced to during my studies in London was totally different and eye-opening. It brought together all my skills and passions; writing, research, set-design, and art that spoke from the heart. I fell in love with how limitless that art world was. And I also fell in love with whom the art world introduced me to. I think what made me the happiest is that I got to meet people in Bahrain I would never have met otherwise. It’s a magical thing to meet dreamers like you, and create something special together.

"What are your hopes for Bahraini women?"

I think Bahraini women are boundless. Bahrain has celebrated and supported women for decades. We are businesswomen, philanthropists, politicians, doctors, lawyers, you name it. I think my only hope is that we inspire those that will come after us and keep breaking glass ceilings.

Leena Al Olaimy

Leena is a social entrepreneur as co-founder of 3BL Associates. She is the author of the forthcoming book Fundamentalist: Why We Need Greater Inclusion to Counter Terrorism, and has written on politics, entrepreneurship and sustainable development for the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Blog, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and the Huffington Post. Leena previously served on the advisory board of HRH Prince El Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan’s West Asia-North Africa Forum, the Bahrain Foundation for Dialogue, and on the board of the Swiss-based nonprofit Cause direct. Leena was the first Arab (woman) to be trained in the Porter-Kramer Shared Value Initiative. Prior to 3BL, Leena had worked in Bahrain and in New York, with a career in communications consulting, event management, and at the Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"What's the driver behind your career?"

Passion and purpose.  A friend once teased me for sometimes ordering things that weren't on the menu--particularly vegetarian items, as I try to follow an 80% vegan diet. I identify the basic ingredients that are available by looking at other menu items, and the cooking methods employed by the chef, then I request something that combines those ingredients and methods--but in a way that also fits my dietary needs.  This metaphor is very similar to how I approach my work. I have often applied to job roles that didn't exist, or have redefined roles to align with my personal sense of purpose and mission. I look at the ingredients (resources) and methods (tools) available to me, and I personalize them. This translates into an emotional investment in the places I have worked--as though they were my own companies or startups. That's very different from just clocking in and out.  So being entrepreneurial, the cofounding of 3BL Associates felt like a very organic progression. We identified the type of work we wanted to do, and that we felt the region and world needed, then we created something that could serve those needs through a business. In many ways, 3BL is market-driving in the sense that we did not enter a market that existed; we created a market for what we do, and every day, we are growing and evolving as we define a marketplace for social and environmental sustainability.

"What are your hopes for Bahraini women?"

My hope is for all Bahrainis in general to fulfill their potential. I think we have extraordinary talent that is often overlooked or never fully realized because that personal alignment with our work or the sense of passion and purpose is missing. For Bahraini women, in particular, I hope we see a day where we no longer need to distinguish between the achievements of a Bahraini 'woman' or 'man' and can celebrate the equality of opportunity and accomplishments of all Bahrainis.

Mashael Fakhro

Mashael is an environmentalist currently focused on community initiatives in Bahrain. Her main interest is in living a simple, creative and sustainable lifestyle and supporting others who want to do the same. Mashael has created a website (consciouslivingbh.com) which serves as a guide to a natural, balanced and simple lifestyle in Bahrain. It lists local products, services and experiences that support our wellbeing, our community and our planet.  Since the website is an online platform, Mashael felt compelled to create offline connective experiences to be true to its message. She recently gathered a group of like-minded people and developed an ongoing series of outdoor creative community events (#simplepleasuresbh) to “connect us to each other, uplift us and remind us of what matters most”.

"What's the driver behind your career?"

While studying abroad, I was exposed to people living simple and meaningful lifestyles, and to experiences such as farmers' markets that filled me with joy, inspiration, and nourishment. I remember telling my college roommate that I wanted to be a part of a movement in Bahrain to make those simple experiences accessible to others. Six years later, I chose to develop the Conscious Living platform in order to show people that this community exists in Bahrain and to strengthen its identity. Over the years I've been deeply driven by my environmental values, but also by inspiring life experiences that I'd like to enable others to experience. A big aspect of the environmental movement is experience-based living, as positive and uplifting experience lead us to be happier, healthier and make balanced choices that are gentle on the earth. Moving forward, I hope to focus my work on offering uplifting or expansive experiences that incorporate a combination of my interests while staying true to my own simple, balanced lifestyle along the way.

"What are your hopes for Bahraini women?"

Not surprisingly, many of the small businesses listed on my website are created by local women. By following their passions, they have enabled others to access local alternatives to products and services. My hope for women here is to truly value the work they are doing by seeing how it fits into a larger perspective.  I hope they get to reveal parts of themselves through their work because that's when work feels most rewarding and others get to see the gems hidden within them. If they are looking to try new things, I would say there's no reason to wait to sow the first seeds, like starting an Instagram page, going to related events or asking someone to collaborate with them on a small project. If you put your heart into what you do, it touches other people's hearts. 

Najla Qambar

Najla ‘Naj’ Qamber, since anyone could remember always made a schedule. She would schedule every little thing she needed to do in her day. And slowly that little trait of hers came in handy with each business venture she jumped into with her partner in crime, Nada Qamber (also her sister). Today, with almost 10 years of experience, 1000 book covers later, she’s successfully running 2 sister companies (Najla Qamber Designs and Qamber Kids) all under the one big company; Qamber Designs & Media. She lives by her philosophy that 'Determination is Greatness'. And boy, did that saying get her places.

"What's the driver behind your career?"

I had many driving forces behind my career, all in various stages in my life. I started working my way to establish the business around 17, and at that time I wanted to just design things no matter what it was. Whether it was an outdoor tent or a backpack, I wanted to create things to get my name and services out there. As soon as I hit 21, I was already fully integrated into one specialization in the independent publishing industry. And there my driving force slowly became more directional. It was more about my enthusiasm to help authors all over the world to sell their books by creating the best cover, interior, marketing materials we could design for each one of them.  As soon as I hit 25, I became more family oriented and now, I’m more focused on building something bigger and something that’ll run itself. So I can leave behind for my kids and family in the future. Depending on what your stage in life is and where you’re at in your career, your driving force will always change. Let’s just hope it keeps driving you forever forward rather than back.

"What are your hopes for Bahraini women?"

We Bahraini women have SO much potential. And sometimes, I feel like they chose or even grow up believing that their talents and their job prospects are limited. Which is definitely untrue. Being part of the world with the internet right now, we Bahraini women should take advantage of that. It’s something we can all do from the comfort of our home if office jobs or businesses don’t work out for us. Ladies! Remember in our day and age, our options are unlimited. So reach for the stars, you’ll catch each one soon enough.

Pakiza Abdulrahman

Pakiza joined the EDB team in 2017 in the capacity of Manager for the ICT/focusing on Startups in Bahrain and collaborating with community stakeholders to establish Bahrain as a startup hub for the region. Prior to joining EDB, she headed the Corporate Sustainability and Social Responsibility division, leading the CSR strategic programs for community development, youth empowerment and environmental stewardship.

"What's the driver behind your career?"

14 years of product development experience in Telecom. 100 days in Sudan & a sudden shift of career focus from Product development to Programs development to empower youth, entrepreneurship & ecosystems in Bahrain has been a journey filled with exciting challenges. My drive has always been the look in my father's eyes; that proud gaze he would give me when I tell him about the challenges at work and how I managed to turn tables and lead a certain matter. Nevertheless, he inspired me to challenge my status quo & never settle for a ‘NO’ if I believe it should be a YES! From that, I learned to ask everything on my mind. To explore new ways of going about achieving an objective. To be inclusive & collaborative with different people or different organizations. Learning never stops. Working with startups & ones with dreams larger than life keeps me energized & inspired.

"What are your hopes for Bahraini women?"

Bahrain women are strong, well-educated & brilliant corner stones of Bahrain's economy. Wishing every woman success in pursuing her dreams, global reach & recognition for her products & services, and strength & resilience to continue her journey.

Rasha Yousif

Born and raised in Muharraq Bahrain, Rasha Yousif is passionate about documentary and travel photography focusing on culture, architecture and traditional ways of living. Capturing moving objects or vibrant colours are what keep her photos alive. Rasha carefully chooses her travel expeditions to showcase less travelled cultural destinations through her lens. Coming from a purely Finance background, colours and creativity are what keeps Rasha going and every day is a battle between her left and right brain!  Rasha has contributed to magazines like Brownbook, Alef, GOOD magazine and Gulf-life. Rasha’s biggest photographic achievement is being shortlisted at National Geographic Abu Dhabi photography competition in 2012. She also won 4th place in a six-episode photography reality TV program “I’m a Nat Geo Photographer” that aired at National Geographic Abu Dhabi in 2014. Rasha has participated at Alwan photography exhibition in Riyadh KSA and “Food is Culture” art exhibition at Bahrain Museum in 2016. She also exhibited Giselle at Words bookstore, “Inside India”  at Bin Matar House in 2014, “Memories recreated” at Al-Riwaq Art space in 2014 and “Documenting Muharraq” photography exhibition at the Bin Matar House in 2011.   Rasha is the founder of @FotoBH a photography platform that supports emerging photographers in Bahrain.

"What's the driver behind your career?"

My passion and love for what I do drives me to juggle having a career and exploring the world. It is not easy to have a full time job and a wanderlust passion but it is possible to balance both lives with time management. The most important driver was to be an independent financially and in decision making.

"What are your hopes for Bahraini women?"

Hoping to see Bahraini women thrive and be bigger contributors to the economy. I’ve had and am still having a very interesting journey exploring the world and seeing how different culture’s acceptance and tolerance to an Arab Muslim woman. My whole experience is breaking the stereotype oppressed image of the Arab woman. Through meeting and talking to random people from around the world.

Reem Al Mealla

Reem is a nature lover by default, a biodiversity conservation & marine specialist by profession, a climate advocate by concern and the brain behind bnature – Bahrain’s first environmental online platform. Reem is a recipient of the M.E.I. (Motivational, Empowering, Inspirational Woman) Award from the University of Essex and has been involved in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) processes for the past couple of years.  On a local level, Reem is a co-founder of the Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) and has served as the AYCM-Bahrain co-ordinator for two years since 2012 before handing it to other young people to take it forward. Since then, she has been working on training Bahraini youth on climate issues and has been working on influencing national climate policies through her advocacy work. In addition, she served as the Project Manager for the Bahrain National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and as the Biodiversity co-ordinator for the Arab World for the Global Environment Outlook Report led by UNEP.

"What's the driver behind your career?"

I think what drives my career is my determination to create pathways for success in a place where support is minimum and options either do not exist or are not favourable.

"What are your hopes for Bahraini women?"

I hope that one-day Bahraini women will realize that there is a future in science for them and that one does not need to feel that they have to follow the conventional way of being an entrepreneur or be in business to be successful in life, which is more accepted and welcomed.

Majra Team

We're a bunch of people who are on a mission to change the employment scene in the MENA region. The articles we write are to express our views and stand on the career development world!

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