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First EY female partners in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE

Three women are among 20 new partners promoted in EY Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

There are now 218 EY partners in the MENA region, with new appointments across the firm’s advisory, assurance, tax, and transaction services.

One third of EY’s partners are now in emerging markets, and 30% are female. The number of women promoted to partner has tripled since last year.

EY’s MENA operations sit within its EMEIA division, and new partners will be led by Julie Teigland, who took over as EMEIA regional leader this month. She is the first woman at EY to hold the position.

Wardah Ebrahim has worked at EY in the UAE since 2006, and has been the firm’s regional assurance talent leader since 2016.

Esraa Al-Buti becomes EY’s first female partner in Saudi Arabia having worked for the firm since 2011, and becoming a director in its business tax advisory practice last year.

Abdulaziz Al-Sowailim, EY MENA chairman and CEO, said, “I am delighted to welcome such a diverse and talented group to our leadership team in the MENA region. Their range of experience across various sectors and services reflects the depth of EY offerings, while also highlighting our expertise in different economies of the region.”

He added, “I am truly proud to see the number of female partners at EY grow each year, it is a testament to our commitment to advance gender equality and create more inclusive boardrooms.”

Women in Saudi Arabia require permission from a male guardian to undertake a wide range of activities, including travel, obtaining a passport, signing contracts, and filing a legal complaint.

It was only in May 2017 that King Salman issued an order specifying certain exceptions to the guardianship rule, including that women no longer needed permission to take a job.

EY runs a regional Entrepreneurial Winning Women programme, launched in MENA last year with participants from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and the UAE.

One of its sponsors is Sheikha Al-Fulaji, a partner at EY Kuwait.

Al-Fulaji commented, “We are witnessing a remarkable shift in the MENA region in terms of the role of women in the workforce – they are not only leading their own businesses but also claiming their place in the corporate boardroom.”

“In addition”, she said, “regional governments are recognising the direct benefits of supporting women entrepreneurs, such as the boost to their local economies, and are implementing various measures to foster their growth.”


Originally published in Economia on 2 August 2019.