Afnan Al Zayani
Global Leadership Awards
Wife, mother, television cooking show star, activist and multi-million dollar company CEO, Afnan Al Zayani transcends categories.
In the tiny Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain, where Afnan was born and raised, expectations for women run high — academic achievement, marriage and family, career and community — but many women fall back to traditional roles in society when faced with competing obligations.
Afnan, faced those same expectations — then exceeded them. She’s proving to a new generation of women in the region how they, too, can balance family, thrive in business and make real contributions to their communities.
As a successful CEO, Afnan became involved with a flourishing network of women business owners. Soon after, the Middle East and North Africa Businesswomen’s Network was officially formed, and Afnan was the natural choice to lead.
But Afnan knows there is more to empowering women in business than increasing the bottom line. She recognized that progress in her country depended on full participation from men and women. If women were fully protected within the judicial system, the payoff would be immediate — secure, stable families, and lasting contributions to the development of Bahraini society.
Afnan engaged various sectors of the community, including civil society and government agencies, to ensure the passing of the first written personal status law which protects the rights of Sunni Muslim women in cases of divorce and child custody.
Truly the modern everywoman, Afnan still manages to find time for a passion very close to her heart — food. She was the first woman to publish bestselling cookbooks on Bahraini and Gulf cuisine, and she hosted eight popular cooking shows on television. She was recently named 152nd most powerful Arab woman by the Arabian Business.