Middle East

Reem Acra

Date of Birth: Unknown

Place of Birth: Beirut, Lebanon

Acra started her bridal fashion line in 1997. Her business has been very successful, and she has styled many big celebrities for their big day. Additionally, she has designed the uniforms for the American University of Beirut Medical Center where her parents previously worked. Acra opened up a store for gowns and bridal dresses in her hometown of Beirut in 2010. She is currently a Member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the Dubai Design and Fashion Council. She was awarded the Building Bridges award in 2014.


Reem Acra. (2015, June 4). Retrieved July 21, 2019, from https://www.arabamerica.com/arabamericans/reem-acra/

Halide Edib Adivar

Date of Birth: June 11, 1884

Place of  Birth: Istanbul, Turkey (Ottoman Empire)

Halide Edib Adivar made many contributions to Turkish identity, culture, literature, and gender equality. In 1918 she took a job as a lecturer in literature at Istanbul University’s Faculty of Letters . It was during this time that she became increasingly active in Turkey’s nationalist movement. During World War I and Armenian genocide, Halide Edib ran an orphanage at the former Saint Joseph College in Antoura for Armenian orphans. Her actions at the orphanage were controversial due to harsh assimilation practices, at times abuse. After the war she joined resistance organizations that spoke out about the British and Greek occupation. She was best known for her novels criticizing the low social status of Turkish women. She was also a founder of the Elevation of Women (Taali-i Nisvan) organization.



Etel Adnan

Date of Birth: February 24th, 1925

Place of Birth: Beirut, Lebanon

Adnan began her career as a Journalist for the Al-Safa newspaper where she helped to develop the cultural section. Adnan began exploring other art forms as she was torn between Arabic, French, and English, leading her to paint. She then found her voice in each of her three languages and wrote many novels and poems in each language. It has been said that Adnan is “arguably the most celebrated and accomplished Arab American author writing today.”


Etel Adnan. (2015, June 1). Retrieved from https://www.arabamerica.com/arabamericans/etel-adnan/

Dr. Amani Ballour

Date of Birth: Not Published

Place of Birth: Eastern Al Ghouta, Syria

Dr. Ballour abandoned her speciality studies to help the people of Al Ghouta who were under attack by the Assad Regime by working in the Cave hospital, in 2013. Dr. Ballour’s work focused on the pediatric patients in the hospital. Her career was heavily shaped by the 2013 chemical attack on Al Ghouta, to which she worked feverishly on the rescue and relief operations. She documented her experience in journals, and worte and blogged about the attack and the grave impact it had on the environment and the citizens. In 2016 she was elected by her coworkers to be the director of the Cave hospital in 2016 at age 29.


Dr. Amani Ballour. Retrieved January 25, 2020 from https://www.thedailybeast.com/author/dr-amani-ballour

Manal Deeb

Date of Birth: 1968

Place of Birth: Ramallah, Palestine

Manal Deeb moved to the United States when she was only 18 so she could study art at the University of Illinois in Chicago and in Minnesota, but her Palestinian roots kept their hold on her. She creates art pieces, sometimes paired with poems, that opens a portal to the feelings of many who hail from Palestine. Her work contains Arabic script, women’s faces, and natural elements such as tree bark that evoke many different emotions from the viewer. She has been featured solo and in collections across the globe in places such as New York, Chicago, Paris, London, Rome, and Jerusalem to name a few. After taking a break to start her family, she has re-entered the art world and continued to push and succeed in making a name for herself.


Elmusa, K. (2014, Oct 20). Manal Deeb: Artist. Retrieved from https://imeu.org/article/manal-deeb-artist

Deeb, F. (2016). About. Retrieved from https://www.ygalleri.com/manal

Painter, D. (2012, Jun). Artist Manal Deeb is from there. Retrieved from https://www.wrmea.org/012-june-july/music-arts-artist-manal-deeb-is-from-there.html

Zaha Hadid

Date of Birth: October 31, 1950

Place of Birth: Baghdad, Iraq

Zaha Hadid is a world renowned architect, who is known as a deconstructivists, due to her fragmented work. Some her most recognized work includes the MAXXI museum of contemporary art and architecture in Rome and Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, Ohio.A major accomplishment in her career was being awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, she was the first woman to be awarded the prize in 2004.


Zukowsky, J. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. In Encyclopedia Britannica.

Tawakkol Karman

Date of Birth: February 7, 1979

Place of  Birth: Yemen

Known as the “Iron Woman”, Karman became the face of a revolution and founded the Women Journalists Without Chains organization in 2005. She is a politician, activist, mother, and journalist. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 in recognition of her work in nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peacebuilding work in Yemen. Karman organized protest marches, staged sit-ins, and mounted media and political campaigns against Sheikh Mohammed Ahmed Mansour. She continues to support female journalists in Yemen and fight against government corruption.





Ghazala Khan

Date of Birth: 1951

Place of Birth: Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan

After moving to Texas in the 1980s, Ghazala Khan’s son became a captain in the U.S. army. Unfortunately, in 2004, he was killed during the Iraq war in an explosion. Years later, Hillary Clinton offered Ghazala Khan and her husband a chance to speak at the Democratic National Convention. Khan attended the speech, standing next to her husband while he spoke, but decided not to speak herself since she wasn’t sure she would maintain her composure so close to a picture of her deceased son. The speech garnered criticism from -at the time- presidential candidate Donald Trump, who claimed that Khan most likely wasn’t allowed to speak due to gender roles forced upon her. She stood up to Trump in an article published by the Washington Post and an interview with Morning Joe. Muslim women across social media joined in with #CanYouHearUsNow paired with posts protesting Trump’s comments.


(2019, April 2). Khizr and Ghazala Khan.  Retrieved from  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khizr_and_Ghazala_Khan

Blumberg, A. (2016, Dec 12). 17 Muslim American women who made America great in 2016. Retrieved from www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/17-muslim-american-women-who-made-america-great-in-2016_us_584204b7e4b09e21702ec3b1

Dr. Najat Khelil

Date of Birth: Unknown

Place of Birth: Nablus, Palestine

Dr. Khelil is a pioneer for women in science, as she was the first woman in the state of Texas to earn a Ph.D. in nuclear physics. She shared her great knowledge through teaching at prestigious universities. As she progressed her career she also advocated for Arab-Americans. She established organizations including but not limited to the Union of Palestinian American Women, the Palestinian American Congress, the Arab Women’s Council, and the Palestinian Youth Organization.


Eadeh, N. (2017, March 8). Honoring 30 Influential Arab American Women for International Women’s Day. Retrieved July 21, 2019, from https://www.arabamerica.com/honoring-30-influential-arab-american-women-international-womens-day/

Maryam Mirzakhani

Date of Birth: May 12, 1977

Place of  Birth: Tehran, Iran

In 1999 she received a B.Sc. degree in mathematics from the Sharif University of Technology in Tehrān. Five years later she earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University for her dissertation Simple Geodesics on Hyperbolic Surfaces and Volume of the Moduli Space of Curves. Iranian mathematician who became the first woman and the first Iranian to be awarded a Fields Medal in 2014. Her work focused on the study of hyperbolic surfaces. This includes curved spaces and her research on such shortest paths between two points. Others note her high ambition and daring imagination when working on problems. With such a gendered gap in the field of mathematics, Maryam Mirzakhani is an inspiration for many.




Dalia Mogahed

Date of Birth: 1974

Place of Birth: Cairo, Egypt

A researcher and scholar, Dalia Mogahed moved from Egypt to America when she was four. She attended the University of Wisconsin and while there, achieved undergraduate degrees in chemical engineering and Arabic. Later, she also received her MBA at the University of Pittsburgh. She became a viral sensation after her TED talk, titled “What it’s like to be a Muslim in America” and is currently a director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, researching “solutions” for American Muslims, as well as their opinions on various topics.


Ali, S. (2017, Dec 7). 10 American Muslim Women You Should Know. Retrieved from  www.huffingtonpost.com/samina-ali/10-american-muslim-women-you-should-know_b_4413809.html

Burke, D & Styx, M.(2018) 25 Influential American Muslims. Retrieved from www.cnn.com/interactive/2018/05/us/influential-muslims/.

(2019, March 23). Dalia Mogahed. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalia_Mogahed.

Dina Habib Powell

Date of Birth: 1973

Place of Birth: Cairo, Egypt

In 2005 President George W. Bush appointed Powell as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the State Department. She worked under White House adviser Karen Hughes. Now Powell is the global head of corporate engagement for Goldman Sachs.



Zainab Salbi

Date of Birth: September 24, 1969

Place of Birth: Baghdad, Iraq

Salbi is the founder of the influential organization Women for Women international. Her work focuses on giving a voice to Arab and Muslim women around the world. She has written several books, her most well known is “If You Knew Me You Would Care”, which documents the stories of women from Afghanistan, Rwanda, and Congo. Some of her greatest awards she has received include being honored by Times Magazine and by President Bill Clinton in 1995.


11 inspirational Arab Women making a difference in the world. (2015, October/November). Retrieved July 21, 2019, from Ali, S. (2017, Dec 7). 10 American Muslim Women You Should Know. www.huffingtonpost.com/samina-ali/10-american-muslim-women-you-should-know_b_4413809.html

Dr. Huda Zoghbi

Date of Birth: June 29th, 1955

Place of Birth: Beirut, Lebanon

Dr. Zoghbi is a well-known and successful neurologist and geneticist. Her most famous discoveries include the gene that causes spinocerebellar ataxia type 1, the MECP2 gene that causes Rett syndrome and Math1 gene that governs the development of inner-ear hair cells. Here genetic discoveries have contributed to medical advancements, helping many people. Her medical breakthroughs led to her gaining membership to the American Academy Neurology, Institute Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.


Huda Y. Zoghbi. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2019, from https://prabook.com/web/huda_y.zoghbi/443261