Two Pakistanis make it to top 10 of Forbes 'Middle East's Most Powerful Businesswomen' list

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CEO PureHealth Holding Shaista Asif (L) and General Manager Unilever North Africa, Levant and Iraq Shazia Syed (R). —Forbes/File
CEO PureHealth Holding Shaista Asif (L) and General Manager Unilever North Africa, Levant and Iraq Shazia Syed (R). —Forbes/File

Two Pakistani women have been recognised by Forbes, a global business magazine, as two of the most powerful top 10 female executives in the Middle East.

Shaista Asif, who has been ranked fourth in the ‘The Middle East’s 100 Most Powerful Businesswomen 2024’ list issued by Forbes, is the co-founder and group chief executive officer of PureHealth Holding, a healthcare network in the UAE.

Asif co-founded the healthcare corporation in 2006 and was appointed as the group’s chief executive in December 2023. The initial public offering (IPO) of the company was raised the same month by $986 million after offering 10% of its issued share capital on the first market of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), Forbes reported.

The IPO was oversubscribed 54 times in the professional subscriber tranche and 483 times in the retail tranche. The company acquired the UK’s largest independent operator of hospitals, Circle Health Group, for $1.2 billion before debt in January 2024. 

And the same month, PureHealth acquired Sheikh Shakbout Medical City, the UAE’s largest healthcare complex for $600 million with revenues of $585.4 million.

General Manager Unilever North Africa, Levant and Iraq Shazia Syed, also the Arabia Senior Customer Development Lead, sits at ninth position on the list for her extensive experience in large corporations.

The former Unilever Pakistan CEO has served as president of the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and was the director of the Pakistan Business Council as well. She assumed the office of general manager for North Africa, Levant, and Iraq in 2021.

Syed, who hails from Abbottabad, joined the British multinational consumer goods company as a management trainee in Pakistan in 1989.

“She also sits on the board of United Bank Limited in Pakistan, is a member of the Board Risk & Compliance Committee, and is the chairperson of the Board Audit Committee,” Forbes reported saying that she earlier worked as a member of the boards of Pukka Tea and Pepsi Lipton.