22 Successful Women Entrepreneurs from Middle East share their Best Time Management and Productivity tips

22 Successful Women Entrepreneurs from Middle East Share Their Best Time Management and Productivity Tips

It’s not a secret to anybody that women entrepreneurs in the Middle East are one of the strongest and powerful ones, as they tend to manage their social life, family and their business. All of them, together, at once.

Although the share of women entrepreneurs comparing to men might be lower in Middle East countries, we’ve seen that there has been a huge increase in women taking up the private sector in recent years. Due to the accessibility of all information available via social media and the Internet, there has been a steady growth in the number of women leading the tech-business and startup fields.

Women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North African countries should definitely know how to manage their time and be productive. That is why we decided to interview 22 women entrepreneurs around UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Turkey to let us in their time management secrets.

We were interested in two questions:

  1. What does the typical day of women entrepreneurs in the Middle East look like?
  2. What are the best time management and productivity strategy that every entrepreneur should follow?

We received a variety of interesting answers. We learned from these women that passion and doing what you love is the key to success. Lots of the responses in this article are truly inspiring and actionable. So without further introduction let’s dig deep into what experts need to say:

Esra’a Al Shafei is an influential civil rights activist, blogger and the founder and executive director of Middle-East Youth and number of civil rights projects including CrowdVoice.org. Mrs. Esra’a is from Bahrain. She is a senior TED fellow and according to a Fast Company she is one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business”. She is also on the list of 17 bravest bloggers worldwide according to the Daily Beast.  Esra’a Al-Shafei received Berkman Award for Internet Innovation from Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School in 2008.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

My typical day usually starts on a flight. I’m constantly traveling, and it never gets less hectic. I’m lucky that I get to do my work remotely, so if I’m home in Bahrain, my day would start checking in with our teams who work across different time-zones (anywhere from Mexico to India). Then I’d dive into a meeting with our developers or project managers to outline our week and responsibilities. In the afternoon, I do my best to take a much-deserved break, working out (lifting a 3kg ball is definitely working out) and visiting family. My day ends with me planning the next day, or checking in for my next flight.

  1. Productivity tips from Esra’a al Shafei:

I think reasonable daily to-do lists are crucial to any healthy work ethic. Give yourself a hard stop instead of pushing the limits of your mind and body. When you can’t cram in a speaking engagement halfway around the world, don’t do it regardless of the potential opportunities. More will come your way, when you’re more ready and engaged. Never feel guilty for putting your health first. I wish someone told me this in my younger years.

Sahar El-Arishy is the founder of 18.213 – an exceptional marketing and event management service that focuses on making your brand unique with creative storytelling and Popup Venues in Cairo, Egypt.  Her startup specializes in the following services: brand storytelling, event planning and management, venue rental, social media marketing and networking. She also has founded a Communications Boutique a brand that provides innovative image building and corporate communications campaigns for companies that need powerful digital and offline market presence. Mrs. Sahar supports young entrepreneurs in Egypt by providing them huge discounts for her services.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

To choose to be an effective solo-entrepreneur that juggles between both work and family, you have to build a time management system that allows you to not only achieve your goals but more importantly keep your physical and mental well being balanced.

My day starts with a 15-minute meditation and breathing exercise that helps me center and infuse my mind and body with positive energy and my intentions for the day. It gives me focus. I then spend 10 minutes journaling and doing a brain dump of all the ideas that I want to explore throughout the week. I then take a walk around the track for one hour and end my routine with getting on a swing in a playground and going as high as I can.  It helps me to articulate my affirmations for what I want to achieve. I highly recommend doing this for everyone. Breakfast is crucial to keep my energy in sync so I make sure to have a nutrition-intense meal and then my day at the office can take off.

Before addressing any work, clients, emails I start by watching or reading the stories and insights of inspirational thought leaders so I start my day by learning something new. I then proceed to deal with my clients and workload. I divide my work systematically to make sure all my deadlines are met and the output of my work is of an impeccable standard of excellence. I love lists and to check off all that has been completed.

After working for at least 7 hours I then go home to cook and do any errands that are family related. I share a meal with my family and then if I still have work that is not finalized I go back to the office for 2 -3 hours. I end my day by reading a good book and writing in my gratitude journal with 3 things I was grateful for in my day.

  1. Productivity tips for entrepreneurs from Sahar El Arishy:
  • Be focused and clear on your short-term goals for the day
  • Remove any distractions that could hamper your focus, namely your phone and surfing on Social Media platforms.
  • Do what you love and what makes your heart sing because that is the only way you will do your best work.
  • Surround yourself with people that inspire you to be the best version of yourself and what you do.
  • When you get stuck go out in nature, take a walk, sit in a beautiful space and recharge.
  • Connect with a mentor someone that is passionate and has relevant knowledge that can help you take your business to another level.
  • Be mindful and present with each new day and learn from your mistakes if something isn’t working just look into why it isn’t and pivot quickly don’t procrastinate and self-doubt and lose the momentum.
  • Always have an open mind and be resourceful in finding and exploring new possibilities for how to do things. The internet is a school for the best entrepreneurial stories from across the world that you can learn not only from their successes but their failures which are the most important learning lessons for any young entrepreneur.

Narise Kamber is an entrepreneur and business owner of Saffaron and Jena Café Bahrain. She’s also a director and a co-founder of Women Professional Network. The story of Narise Kamber is really inspirational. She has grown her food restaurant and Cafe to four location in just one year. Her outlets are very popular and she has started a trend by serving Bahraini food at local eateries.  The story of Narise Kamber has been featured in a number of magazines including wamda.com, gulfweekly.com, perle-magazine.com, Gulf Daily News, etc. Narise is passionate about cooking and creating new dishes. She supports women entrepreneurs in Bahrain by sharing motivational secrets in business in Women’s Business Events.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

My typical day is waking up with the children. I have four kids, 3 boys and one girl aged 8,12,15,17. We have a small breakfast together, then I drop them to school and then I head to work. I have an office in Manama where I have one of my branches of Saffron by Jena cafe. This is where I spend the majority of my work week.

As soon as I reach the office and in order not to feel I flustered or overwhelmed with the workload, I devise an hour by hour to-do list.  It includes everything I need to typically do in a day’s work where I address the most important matters first and then create an action plan where I make sure that myself and my team follow up on all things discussed that day.

The list also includes organizational tips for the office and kitchen. You can’t be creative if you are not organized and there is always a time to have a short break to breathe. I have a small bite with an espresso while watching a little Downton Abbey because it’s important to refresh the mind.

Also I make sure I visit each one of my branches and address the main issues with the branch’s supervisor to ensure a tight service operation. At the moment, I have three Saffron by Jena cafes, each is located in a traditional heritage area in Bahrain.  I also have a bakery/patisserie (Jena Bakery) in Hamala area.

I leave work by 2:15 pm which gives me enough time to pick my kids from school which leads to my favorite part of the day and that is when the whole family sits together for lunch.

Sometimes it’s not possible that we all gather in the same time, as my husband has different work commitments and meetings, and the kids have random activity days. Nonetheless, we have a rule at home, if you are there at lunchtime, you have to sit at the dining table with the others for lunch – even if you don’t feel like eating.

Then I allow the kids to have a one hour break to play with their toys, iPads, to watch TV, to rest, to read. Then it’s homework time. I try to make this time very concise because I believe that the kids’ afternoon – all kids not only mine, should not be wasted doing school work.

They already spend 7 hours a day learning new things academically, so the rest of the day should be about playing and pursuing hobbies, etc. While the kids are busy with their hobbies, I usually rest in my room and watch a documentary or read while having a small cup of Turkish coffee with a piece of chocolate.

I have a small decorative desk in my room that I like to use for different things, enhancing my language skills (I love studying French and Spanish), making vision boards, exploring new ideas for my business, planning my next trip. It’s my small space to dream, to improve myself, to pursue even more goals.

Just before dinner time my husband comes home and we spend some time reconnecting by asking about each other’s day and what new exciting things we have discovered or think of alternative ways to solve work issues, etc. Then I make sure that the kids’ bags are set for the next day, that they ate dinner, showered and washed before wearing their pajamas and then a bedtime story for the little one, and finally it’s lights out for all kids.

Later in the evening, I either decide to eat in with my husband or go out to a friend’s house for some tea. When I return home I prepare the next day’s clothes, organize my handbag and make sure I keep money change for myself and the kids for the next day.

  1. Productivity tips for entrepreneurs from Narise Kamber:
  • It’s impossible for anyone to be creative or successful without being organized. That means that, you should really sit with yourself for one hour and make a list, make mechanisms for how to conduct your day/week/month. My best find is a diary. I have old fashioned paper notebook diary in which I can see my full week, my full month and year.
  • Be ready for challenges and unexpected stuff. Work on yourself. Take courses. Have a fantastic life coach. We are all humans. We all have weaknesses. We have to work on our weakness constantly. Because as humans we always need to be growing.
  • It’s a proven fact that humans grow only in times when they experience discomfort and pain. There have been some tough episodes in my life concerning work. Only because of those tough episodes I became stronger, I grew. You need to have the inner strength to meet those challenges. And motivation not to give up.
  • Never think of giving up. It’s so easy for someone to feel defeated and want to do something else. And this is the most important advice I can ever give – never give up. No matter how much you feel inside that you are broken. Wonderful things happen exactly at the same time when the night is at its darkest. When you feel like there’s no light. When you feel like “I’m a failure”, I can’t do this. That’s when miracles happen.

As entrepreneurs we shouldn’t ever think of giving up. We should keep on fighting. For a very long time, I used to doubt myself. I used to think maybe I am not in the right field. Perhaps I should be sitting at home. Maybe I should be doing something else.

I have to say only after a very long time of working on myself I achieved the success. Instead of complaining about weaknesses, work on them. Take courses. Learn what you don’t know.

I made it a daily mission to learn something new. To tackle the thing that’s scaring me the most. If I was scared to talk in front of people, I would ask myself “Why are you scared to talk in front of people?” And I would take courses to improve that skill. Constantly learn what you are afraid of and then do it! Your weaknesses should not be an excuse for not doing it.

Gulsum Ciraci directed Turkey’s first entrepreneurship project with World Bank in 2002. Those years, there was no ecosystem in Turkey and has never been documentary about entrepreneurship. Under these conditions, she has carried out entrepreneurship projects in 3 different regions of Turkey. In 2012, Gulsum established Istanbul Startup Angels that is one of the first turkey angel investors network. Gulsum brought Europe’s best acceleration program Startupbootcamp to Turkey. Thus Startupbootcamp has been in the MENA region for the first time and she managed to complete the foundation work in 6 months. Gulsum was the first female executive and founder in all Startupbootcamps. In 2016, ISA started to invest in seed stage startups by initiating Vertical Acceleration programs, first being the IOT-Telco Labs. Within the scope of this program, Gulsum and her team have graduated by investing 6 seeds. They decided to open the second of the program and invest in about 10 IOT Telco entrepreneurs this year. Most exciting news about ISA is Turkey’s the second best angel investor network according to Webrazzi readers. Istanbul Startup Angels invested in 13 startup project and became the most active angel investor network in 2016.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

I have been starting my day with a typical breathing exercise for 3 years. Its helpful for having an open mind and making my day better. During the day, I have a meeting with entrepreneurs and business partners. When the day is over, it is time for emailing and doing some calm works. I’m trying to do Pilates at least 3 times a week. Work and normal life need to be separated. I think there will be a balance if you follow the simple rules.

I prefer not to work at weekends unless very very urgent and important things come out. I book weekends for myself and for my child. I have a book at which I’m working on. Sometimes, I work on the book on weekends.

  1. Productivity tips for entrepreneurs from Gulsum Giraci:

Time management is so important. Especially entrepreneurs need to be multitasking because, they have to become up-to-date and handle more than one task at the same time. Investment negotiations, operations, management, business development, etc. These jobs have to be synchronized, not sequentially. For these reasons, they should be able to follow a few things at the same time.

The recommendation in this regard is to prioritize deadlines for each job. Setting specific deadlines will help them to create a work discipline. If little tips are given, quick mail responses decrease the business accumulation or making phone conversations while on the road is saving time.

Decisions taken after each meeting need to be made quickly and dedicated. High number of urgent tasks lead to time management difficulties. It is a productive way to do jobs that want to focus on the calmest day of the day (evening or early morning). This situation brings a motto the more you work, the more you earn although entrepreneurship is the most difficult part of time management.

Eida Al Muhairbi is an Emirati entrepreneur and inventor who has 100 international inventions under her name. Out of those 100 inventions, 46 are recognized within the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Eida currently works in Zakum Development Company (ZADCO) in Abu Dhabi as an operations financial manager. She is a winner of the ‘Shaikha Shamsa bint Suhail Award for Creative Women’. Eida is an inventor of multi-purpose drone and the ‘universal car cover’ – accordion car cover, which received a Chinese patent in 2012. She also invented the 3D phone, a semi-inflatable tire, the washing machine with separate chambers for cleaning different color and type clothes at one time, and the disk-operated iron and much more.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

My day looks like any other person’s day.  I’m working in a company, doing my job in the way that I would be satisfied, and providing a helping hand to anyone who needs anything from me related to work or hand-able family needs.

Our teamwork together starts with putting thoughts, running after them until we finalize our project. When we set to work with all our efforts, we achieve the completion of our mission in a reasonable time-frame.

  1. Productivity tips for entrepreneurs from Eida Al Muhairbi:

My advice to the young entrepreneurs to manage their time and to be more productive:

  • Focus on the target.
  • Put your investment in the right place: time, money, strength, efforts and life
  • Start the choice without emotion
  • Patience is a key at the initial stage
  • Do not stick to the first thing in your life it could be too advanced to your community
  • Find out what is missing and how you can collaborate such that you can help your community.

Dunia Othman and her husband Ibrahim Holak are husband-wife business owners of mrUsta.com. It is a UAE startup that focuses on linking skillful and reliable maintenance and repair workers individuals who need something to fix something in their home or office urgently. Dunia and her husband decided to launch this platform back in 2014. Currently, the platform contains more than 10,000 various plumbers, maintenance workers and repairers. MrUsta.com generated about 1 million dirhams in revenue since the launch of the platform. The platform sees an increase in customers, month by month. More and more people are trusting mrusta.com to find the quality service providers. Dunia Othman is passionate about marketing, business management and technology and her startup.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

I am not a great morning person and I know that, so I aim to spend the least amount of time in the morning getting ready before getting to the office in order to sleep in. I am also a coffee addict so I would generally pick up a coffee and something to eat either on the way to the office or order it when I arrive.

I like to start the day going over how we did the day before. I admit I am a huge excel fan and I love tracking everything in order to pick up trends and get clear health checks so that tends to be the first thing I do in the morning. I also try to avoid scheduling meetings before 10 am to be mentally prepared to discuss any topics.

Generally, as we are a start-up there is a lot of collaborative work within the team. Many discussions happen when they are scheduled or simply when certain things arise.

I try to run all my meetings (internal or external) before 2 pm (before lunchtime) to give myself the afternoon to do of all other work I need, reply to emails, articles, presentations, working with my co-founders brainstorming features etc.

Most days I aim to leave the office by 6 pm and try to pick up some easy ingredients to cook a quick meal. My husband is also my co-founder and the CEO of the company, so we live together, shop together and cook together. Which also means that we are very likely to discuss work as we are cooking or eating (as much as we try to avoid that).

Depending on when we manage to get home and have dinner we try to sometimes go for a walk. Or we go down to the gym and get in some form of exercise after a full day of sitting in the office.

After that I need to have some brain shut-off time before bed. Otherwise, I would be too wired up to sleep. So if there is an urgent work matter, I tend to it after dinner to get 1-2 hours or watching TV or reading the news, etc.


08:00-09:00 – I wake up, get ready, drive to the office

09:00-10:00 – I review of yesterday’s traffic and usage

11:00-14:00 – I go to meetings (internal and external) checking marketing campaigns, discussing with staff if there are any issues, etc

14:00–14:30 – A quick lunch (mostly at desk!!)

14:30–5:30 – I catch up on emails, presentations, content, articles any work that needs my attention

18:00-20:00 – Home and dinner

20:00-21:00 – A walk (or light exercise)

21:00-22:00 – A brain shut down and get ready for bed (in some occasions the four of us co-founders would meet after 8 to discuss any major issues to mrUsta.com)

  1. Productivity tips for entrepreneurs from Dunia Othman:

One thing that I incorporated in my way of working, that has helped me a lot is to cut out double handling, whether its emails, documents, excels etc. You don’t realize how much time you waste. If you open an email to read reply, then and there. Don’t file it in your head and then come back to it again (and sometimes again and again).

If you don’t have the time to reply don’t read it. Same goes for documents, reports, etc. Try to touch everything only once and get it out of the way. If needed remove notifications to avoid getting the urge to check and read.

The other advice I will give is to understand how you work, when are you most productive focusing on details? After the morning coffee? After lunch? At night when all is quiet? And when are you unable to go as deep into focus, do your emails your light concentration tasks then etc. Everyone works differently and has different styles so don’t try to copy someone else’s schedule it may not work for you.

Amira El-Sayed is a business coordinator, jewelry designer and an entrepreneur in Egypt. She is a founder of M.F.A Accessories that designs and builds custom jewelry items from polymer clay to copper sawing. She has a degree in marketing and business strategy. She worked as a marketing specialist and an events coordinator in the past. Amira is passionate about changing things to the better sides. She likes challenges and doing research. She decided to turn her hobby into a small business in June 2009 and it turned out to be a great endeavor. Currently, M.F.A handmade accessories have more than a hundred clients and she never feels tired of doing what she likes practicing her marketing and entrepreneurship knowledge.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

Currently, I am traveling to the United States to take my MBA degree in marketing. That puts up a challenge for me to run my own jewelry business in Egypt. I would say that my typical day wouldn’t be the same as every day because I hate a routine.

I think it will be like studying, meeting new people from different cultures, searching for new techniques to improve my jewelry business. I also attend meetings in my University Student Entrepreneur Center to discuss and plan my new startup idea.

At the end of the day, I like cooking, listening to music, watching movies/TV series. I also plan several activities for weekends. They will be hiking or walking with my friends, going to the gym and finally attending different kinds of entertainment events.

  1. Productivity tips for entrepreneurs from Amira El-Sayed:

I would advise young entrepreneurs to keep their passion alive. This is what keeps you willing to achieve your dreams.

  • Find out your prime time and complete your important tasks in it.
  • Find a place where your mind thinks best in. The place where all your bright ideas come to life.
  • Go to co-working spaces and attend different startup events in your country, mingle there with others who can add value to your way of thinking. This will help a lot in conducting your startup plan. Brainstorming is always a key.
  • Search the internet for challenges faced by other entrepreneurs. This will prevent you from falling for the same mistakes others made.
  • One shouldn’t forget about taking care of their body and soul. Doing new things like meditation, yoga, hiking, skydiving once and awhile will boost your memory and refresh your energy. It will kill the routine and make you more productive. For managing your time, I would recommend that one should set their goals first and prioritize them. That way you will have a clear view of what’s need to be done and when.
  • Different mobile apps help you manage your time and tasks (e.g. Any.do, excel sheets).
  • Use the S.M.A.R.T goals technique and update it every month.
  • Use your time on social media to search for competitors, new ideas and potential customers.
  • Practice yourself to focus on what you are doing without getting distracted by your phone. This will save time doing your task and make you more productive.

Nesma Saad is an entrepreneur, real estate agent, wedding planner and much more. What is striking about Nesma is that, being only 22 years old girl in Egypt she manages to combine different types of businesses, at the same time of being active in social volunteering activities and causes. Nesma is an owner of “Live on Top Oikaa” e-Commerce company which provides a platform for online shopping that contains an exclusive range of products and services. Oikaa took a different route of marketing and distributing products by rewarding its customers with its points. Customers can redeem these points in the future from Oikaa products and services. Nesma actively blogs on Linkedin.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

I’m only 22 years old, I have much time to do a lot of things at the same time and I love it. I love exploring more and more that’s why I liked to start my wedding planning career beside real estate. A new day for me means a new chance from Allah to reach to my dreams. Every morning I put a plan for current day and try hard to achieve 99% of it.

I don’t like routine and traditional life. I love change and love doing this everyday even if it is a little one. My life is like a brisk. I have family, work, friends, shopping, food & drink, meeting new people, discovering more information, trying new things, failure & success, and so on. Briefly, my typical day is very hectic with no room for a routine.

  1. Productivity tips for entrepreneurs from Nesma Saad:

Young entrepreneurs have more time to learn today and lead tomorrow. Waste your time on learning and trying everything new. It’s very good to grow early and to leave a beautiful legacy in people’s lives. Keep going towards your dreams. It’s your real life. And always thank Allah for his blessings. Trust Allah and move ahead.

Reshmi Mukherjee is a writer, entrepreneur, fitness enthusiast, soul traveler and much more. She is Co-Founder, Entrepreneur and Creative Director at “The Buzz People” an advertising agency in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Buzz People, is a highly ambitious enterprise conceptualized out of creative and engineering minds looks to provide differentiated value to clients through its key products. Established in 2014, The Buzz People is a group of highly intellectual, motivated and smart-thinking entrepreneurs who want to revamp the consumer purchasing behavior from start to end. Moreover, Reshmi is a blogger and a frequent traveler. She writes about her experience in reshmimukherjee.com.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

The thing most people think about entrepreneurship is that, you can wake up whenever you want and work as per your own terms without worrying about a 9 to 5 format with check-ins, bosses et al. While that might be true to some extent, it is that much harder to stay disciplined and wake up early to start your day without “needing to do so”.

My typical day starts off with a cup of coffee and scrolling through my emails. I like to respond to emails/ pending work as and when it comes up. It is a result of being obsessive about keeping your slate clean at all times.

After a quick breakfast, I either head out for meetings at clients’ offices or my own office depending on the schedule of the day. Because of the nature of our business, recruitment for projects happen all year long and a large part of my day goes into meeting prospective candidates, interviewing them and fulfilling vacancies in a pretty tight time frame.

If I am out for the entire day, I usually grab my lunch from my favorite Deli, but most of the times, if possible, I try to come home for lunch. The mantra to stay on top of things during a busy week is to prepare for the week in advance. So, I do a lot of meal prep at the start of the week so that eating lunch at home is quick, easy and nutritious. And the fact that I love to cook my own meals only helps.

After lunch, I try to sit for an hour or so with a cup of green tea to write my weekly blogs. I find this time to be having an incredibly calming and positive effect on my whole day. They say entrepreneurship is hard – I say that it is as hard as anything else that you are doing. It is as hard and as easy as you make it out to be. But at the end of the day, every day, it ends up becoming the plant that you’ve been watering, the baby that you’ve been feeding and the rise of the sun that you wish to watch every day.

  1. Productivity tips for entrepreneurs from Reshmi Mukherjee:

The first advice that I would like to give to young entrepreneurs is to believe in themselves. There will be times when the most stoic believers will begin to lose hope and vision of their own dreams. It’s normal, but what makes you into an entrepreneur is the simple fact that you have the knack to wash away these fogs of disbelief and get up stronger.

That’s my first advice – believe in your vision, believe in yourself and believe that everything will work out in the end. The second thing that I would like to tell anyone who has started off their own businesses is that, keep your cash flow very strong. Finance is king when it comes to entrepreneurship. Make it a habit of sitting for an hour every week on your PnL (Profit & Loss) sheet. It will help you to see what is going on clearly.

As a young entrepreneur, spend only on what is required and avoid splurging on things just for Instagram. Hire those who can really visualize your dream. And each day, every day – make sales happen. Because while marketing is great, without sales, the backbone crumbles.

My final advice would be about time management. I have always been a big-time planner, and that has helped me immensely while juggling multiple tasks at one time. Being an entrepreneur in a startup, you are creative, you are the marketing department, you are the finance guys, you are even the PRO. Therefore, if you don’t plan your day/week, you will see yourself sinking very often.

Keep a daily planner where you note down everything that you need to accomplish during the day. Keep striking off everything that you have completed in the course of the day. Organizing your day is a key and this is what is going to make the difference.

The pivotal reason you took up the path of entrepreneurship is because you wanted the world around you to be something that you have dreamt of. It is time to wake up, dress up and show up and do it.

Reem BuQais-Rivera is 24-year-old fashion entrepreneur in Bahrain. She is a graduate of New York Fashion Institute of Technology which is the school of top designers like Carolina Herrera, Calvin Klein and Michael Kors. She has a great interest in fashion and clothes. After completing her studies in New York, Reem returned to Bahrain and started her own label Reem BuQais-Rivera. Reem is a well-tailored luxury Ready-to-Wear brand with Latin and Middle Eastern influences as Reem comes from an Arab-Latin background. Reem is also a blogger and she is active on Twitter. She has recently won Bahrain’s Top Stylist competition. She has a number of awards for developing fashion industry in Bahrain.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

My typical weekday includes me going to work as I do have a job aside from my business. After my job, I have lunch. Then I work on my business which includes, designing, creating samples, looking for fabrics for my designs and overseeing production.

  1. Productivity tips for entrepreneurs from Reeem BuQais-Rivera:

The advice I would give to young entrepreneurs is to be dedicated and passionate about the business they are doing. Because when you’re an entrepreneur, the work never stops. So if you love what you are doing, you will sacrifice the time and effort into your business. Prioritize your business more than social events, write a to-do list of things that need to be done and try to get at least 3 done per day.

Stephanie Khouri is an entrepreneur and word aficionado. She is the founder of Gourmet Stop – the first Automat machine which dispenses meals in just a few minutes in UAE. Compared to junk food, the food vended by Gourmet Stop is real and healthy. Gourmet Stop is in eight locations and contains eight types of food available each day. Stephanie is also a founder of Nomadic Capital, a company which specializes in importing the latest inventions from around the world as well as developing the new apps. Stephanie also founded the Urban Steel shop, the first official body piercing shop in Dubai. What is inspiring about Stephanie is that she manages so many different types of businesses and never gets tired.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

A typical day is quite a challenge to come by as an entrepreneur, and especially one with a startup. There are so many different and changing moving parts that need to be taken care of. With that said, I try to start the average day by going to the office, which is a wonderful environment. I catch up with my team who are the best people around!

I then visit our locations, where our Gourmet Stop – an automated food dispensing machine is located, to make sure everything is running smoothly. Meetings are an almost daily occurrence. I love Nomadic, it’s my passion, and even with the hardships that come along the way, that drives me.

Once, the full work day is done, I head home, and that’s where my second passion comes in to play! I love cooking, it’s an art for me, and it relaxes me completely. My business partner is also my husband so even when we are at home the work continues!

  1. Productivity tips for entrepreneurs from Stephanie Khouri:

Time management and productivity? This is the most important lesson they will ever learn, and it’s a tough one. Time management will be your most significant tool, it makes success that much more attainable. If you do nothing else as an entrepreneur, do this!! Plan your day, stick to your plan, use the hours available to you to the best of your ability.

To do lists will help, it might sound silly but believe me it keeps the things under control. If proper time management isn’t exercised at the beginning, it becomes incredibly difficult to fix later on, and you will become overwhelmed. Focus on one thing at a time as much as possible and listen to those who have walked the line before you.

Rania Badr El Din a humanitarian, social entrepreneur, proud and dedicated mother of three and CEO of Mother & Child, Egypt’s trusted source of information for families. She is a participant of TED talks in Cairo, Egypt. She gives lectures about balancing work and life being a female entrepreneur and a mother. Mother and Child is a digital publication that offers family care advice to young mothers. She also proudly participates in various women empowerment programs in Egypt.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

My typical day now is very different from my usual day 21 years ago when I first started my business! I used to run around all day, working extra-long hours and relying on others to manage the home.

Today, and through the years, I have managed to turn things around so that my days are more relaxed, and I have more time for myself and my family while delivering even greater value to my customers. A different mindset, a focus on what matters most, delegating more, and the transition of our publication from print to digital has made all of these possible.

My typical day starts with spending an hour or so with my husband at a nearby coffee shop after our 10-year old daughter has left to school, followed by several hours of working on my laptop from home and managing my team remotely.

If I have a work meeting, I will drive over to that and then back home in time for my daughter’s school bus to drop her off. Alternatively, I may have one of my weekly meetings with a member of our management team or our full team meeting every two weeks at the office.

In all cases, I tend to spend many hours each week working from home, where I manage to focus better while being more hands on around the house and getting some quiet time for myself. Some mornings, I will take out some time to catch up with a friend. I might also do charity or community work. Or I can attend a school function.

Evenings are spent with my daughter and my husband. Weekends are for family and fun and relaxation. Even though, it happens that I always do manage to sneak in some work here and there as needed. I tend to reply to emails or messages – without disrupting the peace.

  1. Productivity tips for entrepreneurs from Rania Badr El Din:

First and foremost, decide what’s important to you, not just in relation to work but with regards to life as a whole. Decide what you really want out of life and what values you want to live by, and let those guide you.

Second of all, love what you do and see the value in it.

Third of all, surround yourself with the right people, at work and outside of it. I could go on, but when these 3 things in particular are in order, it’s surprising how much more productive one can become.

We tend to be more productive when we are clear about what we are trying to achieve and how we intend to make it. When we have right people around to help us achieve it. Besides, of course, loving what we do means that, we can find more joy in our days and not just in our evenings and weekends.

Haneen Dabain is a co-founder of Pricena – a comparison website that gathers best prices of various electronic products across the stores in UAE. Pricena compares prices of electronics, appliances, fashion and other products to help shoppers find the best prices online. Haneen has an IT education background and she managed several tech startups before. In June 2015, Pricena partnered with Daxx and hired mobile developers who helped build Pricena’s iOS and Android apps. Haneen Dabain has been featured in entrepreneur.com and khaleejtimes.com. She eagerly shares tips about launching a new company and starting a new startup in various events of UAE. Pricena was recognized as the “Online Startup of the Year” by Du Enterprise Agility Awards.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

I start my day by having coffee and going through my emails. Then it’s time to have a meeting with the team to discuss progress, tasks for the day, questions or concerns, and risks and mitigation plans to make sure we meet the deadlines. We also frequently have a founders’ meeting to discuss the products roadmap, future plans, and brainstorm ideas about new features.

  1. Productivity tips for entrepreneurs from Haneen Dabain:

Team communication is a key. There are plenty of tools to help make the communication efficient. We use slack and we like it. It definitely made my team discussions a lot easier.

Elissa Freiha an Emirati of Lebanese-American descent that was born and raised in Paris, France. Elissa is a co-founder of WOMENA – a Dubai-based women-only angel group that empowers and educates women investors. It provides a supportive, professional network and dependable guidance to invest in new companies in the MENA region and facilitates the investment process from deal sourcing to close. She was recently named as one of Forbes’ Middle East’s Inspiring Business Leaders of the UAE. She has been featured in BBC for creating change among women entrepreneurs. She is included in Arabian Business’ 100 most powerful Arab women and Arabian Business’ 100 most influential Arabs under 40. Since launch in December 2014, WOMENA has invested in four UAE companies and has educated and empowered hundreds of women to invest.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

My typical days as an entrepreneur are very hectic and never seem to have enough time. I wake up, shower, listen to the podcasts on the way to the office, have breakfast at the office, morning meetings, lunch at my desk, internal office meetings, admin work, evening pitch events.

I then go home and try to spend some time on an overarching business strategy that gets overlooked while taking care of admin. Then I watch a show and sleep, wake up and repeat everything over again.

  1. Productivity tips from Elissa Freiha:

Be honest with yourself about what you like to do. You’re the boss so you have the luxury of choosing where your skill set should be applied. Outsource or delegate the rest.

Doaa Adel Hosny is a recognized professional makeup artist since 2012. In 2013, she started her own workshops. Putting art, creativity and talent together made her workshops to standout and appreciated by some talented popular makeup artists in the world. Doaa has started her private sessions as she found that this will be much more beneficial for the customers to learn more about how to do a daily makeup for themselves. In the last few years, she has been attending most of the fashion events to keep herself updated about the latest trends in Makeup field.  To make her business even more professional, she studied an Image Consulting and started her career as a certified Makeup artist and Image Consultant. We can see that Makeup and Fashion will always be Doaa’s passion as she believes that “Beauty is her Duty”.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

I start my day at 7:00 am and this is the first secret. Early morning is the best thing to live a positive day. Besides, you can manage your time depending on what you do in the first hours of your day. My early hours would be like:

10 mins for coffee, 10 mins for meditation and praying, 10 mins for writing my plan for today and sports. I give myself at least 45 mins to listen to music to recharge myself with positive energy. Then, I take a shower. Then, I start my day.

After that, I am busy with doing my work very well like checking emails and making the meetings. I train my team and motivate them. Then, I head back to my family to listen for their problems and what they achieve during the day.

  1. Productivity tips from Doaa Hosny:
  2. Try to develop yourself with a course or reading a book. It is the best thing can help you to grow fast
  3. Consistency helps to achieve your dream.
  4. Write down your dream or goal every day
  5. Relax
  6. Make a wish list and every day. Write down how can you achieve every one of them
  7. Find at least one hour with someone whom you love to talk to
  8. Find time for yourself every day to filter your day and your goals
  9. Your vision board is the best thing to achieve your goal

Sirine Fadoul is an Incubation Manager at DTEC Tech Startup Incubator, Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority. She is a founding member of Girls in Tech Middle East and a Mentor and Coach for The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Mentoring Women Program. Sirine is also the founder of Generation Disrupt, a nonprofit product design educational program for children. She works closely with a portfolio of 14 tech startups providing them with strategic and operational support in addition to assistance with follow-on funding. She is a founding member of Girls in Tech Middle East and a Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Mentoring Women Programme Mentor and Coach. She has more than 12 years of Marketing, Business Development, Management and Entrepreneurship experience between Europe and the Middle East.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

My day starts and ends with either reading the news or/and listening to a podcast or audio-book. I try as much as possible to maintain a sense of urgency and plan my day in a manner that allows me to achieve tangible results rather than react to issues that arise. Every day is different but what is absolutely vital to me is having at least one brief conversation with a colleague or a client.

  1. Productivity tips from Sirine Fadoul:

Focus, focus, focus. It is very important to stay focused on what yields results and delegate what should be delegated. There are many productivity tools out there that are easy to use and affordable, read about them and pick the ones that suit you and add value to your startup. Don’t shy away from asking for help. Seek a mentor or an advisor to guide you and support you.

Andrea Antal is an entrepreneur, founder of  Andrea Antal Communications, brand management and marketing agency located in Dubai, UAE. Andrea is originally from Toronto, Canada. She started her career in the hospitality industry, working with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts for over ten years. As her career path took shape, she discovered her passion and natural ability for marketing and public relations.  In 2013, she recognized the opportunity to start her own marketing and PR business when a number of business owners asked her to help them start, boost or save their businesses. Over the years, her marketing and PR services have developed razor-sharp focus, committed to delivering the strategies and tools that work best in today’s competitive landscape.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

Each day, I wake up and get my son ready for school. I manage to get prepared during the short time while he’s having his breakfast, and then we’re out of the door by 7:45 am. I need to pick him up at 1 pm, as he’s only in nursery half a day. This is the only constant in my schedule, so everything else pretty much revolves around that.

On the professional side of things, the fun part about being a marketing consultant is that each day is different. Working with different types of businesses, I could be creating new campaign strategies on one day, and on other days, I’m working on implementing them or analyzing campaigns that are already in action.

My services range from email marketing, social media, webinars, direct mail, search engine optimization, advertising, business advisory, product development, customer retention, PR, etc. Therefore, there’s never a boring day. I absolutely love what I do!

In the evenings, I try to log out at a reasonable hour (7 pm on average) so that I can spend time with my family and catch up on everyone’s day before bed. I think it’s important to stay grounded and in touch with your personal life. Because the days may be long, but time certainly flies, so I don’t take that for granted.

  1. Productivity tips from Andrea Antal:
  • Deal with small tasks immediately. If a task takes less than two minutes, get it done and cross it off your list instead of saving it for later (which often never comes!)
  • Don’t let distractions to slow you down. Avoid checking your personal social media accounts until you’re finished working. The average worker spends 55 minutes during a workday checking Facebook. It’s a major time-suck and can be hard to get back on task.
  • Prioritize your tasks in order of importance. Making the most of your day involves completing crucial tasks. Feeling productive is very rewarding and motivating.
  • Set realistic deadlines. I always say, “under promise and over deliver.” Always give yourself a little extra time to complete tasks so that you have a little extra breathing room. Finishing a task earlier than expected is always a great feeling.
  • Get organized Using lists and tracking your progress is a must if you want to stay on course. Entrepreneurs have a lot going on, and often feel like the weight of the world is on their shoulders, so the best thing you can do is stay on top of your daily activities.

Randa Ayoubi is a co-founder and CEO of Rubicon Holding Group. Rubicon Group Holding, is a diversified global entertainment and production powerhouse devoted to the creation of outstanding innovative entertainment experiences and interactive educational content across all media platforms. RGH has a team of several hundreds of employees in four locations Amman Jordan, Los Angeles the United States, Manila Philippines and Dubai United Arab Emirates. Ms. Randa Ayoubi founded Rubicon Group Holding Limited in 2004. Ms. Ayoubi serves as Chairperson of Red Sea Institute for Cinematic Art and Board Member of Children’s Museum of Jordan. She received Business Woman of the Year award from CEO Middle East Awards. She ranked 11th on the list of the most influential woman in the Middle East (Economist Magazine 2007) and 12th most influential woman in the MENA, according to Arabian Business 2010.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

My typical day starts with 45-60 mins of yoga and meditation, followed by coffee. I meet with my mother every morning, then head to the office. I typically have 4-6 meetings a day besides the regular management duties including follow up work on projects and clients. Most evenings, I spend at home with my family.  We watch a movie, play a game or visit or receive friends.

  1. Productivity tips from Randa Ayoubi:

Segment your day so that you can give all of your focus and attention to each segment.  Go into each segment passionately and leave it where it should be when it’s time for the next.

I always find that doing whatever you are doing at the time passionately, without worrying about what you still have to do or haven’t yet done, increases productivity and enhances life’s quality.  Live passionately in the now of each moment.

Eman El-Koshairy is a co-founder of AlMakinah, UX Training and Consulting Specialist, freelancer, and UXD & Design Thinking Evangelist. AlMakinah is a programming bootcamp that aims to produce production-tier software developers in a short amount of time. She loves teaching and sharing knowledge. Although AlMakinah is relatively young programming bootcamp, it already has a number of successful students and customers. Eman also loves blogging and helping others to learn to programme. She is still making sense of my world. Eman El-Koshairy is passion & coffee driven person as put in her own words.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

Our startup AlMakinah is still in its early phases. We still don’t have an office, everything is pretty random here right now. Before I get to how a day would look like, I will tell you how we structure out our days:

  • We have meetings early in the day and later in the afternoon. We try to squeeze them on the same day back to back so they don’t interrupt the workflow of the day.
  • As we have many tasks, we found it’s best to have them done for the day they are supposed to be done. We don’t keep on doing too much context switching each day. This way, we stick to a deadline.

A typical day outline would look like this:

  • I start off my day with a cup of coffee and a good breakfast. Then I get dressed and off to my work destination for the day (a coffee place most of the days)
  • I take a minute to organize my day and what I need to get done
  • I usually have an important task in the morning that is to some extent finite, meaning that I can complete and finish it before lunch. This gives me a sense of achievement for the day and keeps me motivated.
  • Then there is a lunchtime. I do some unwinding and some calls this time
  • Then I go to the next chunk of tasks. They could be more open tasks, whatever which needs more creativity or discovery. This way, I give them more time to get done. I already got something major out of the way in the morning, so I am more comfortable working on them.
  • I usually leave some mindless – easy tasks for the end of the day, more emails, answering Facebook page, or reviewing stuff.
  • I usually allow myself some unwinding at the end of the day. I watch TV shows. I have a chat and meetup with a friend, etc.
  1. Productivity tips from Eman El-Koshairy:
  • I come from design thinking background and one thing I have learned from it is the power of iterations and feedback! I used to look at the task and think that when it was done it had to be perfect from the first attempt, before I showed it to anyone. I usually take a task on different stages with different levels of fidelity. In fact, I found out that this is more efficient in many ways. I start off with the core of the task and I seek feedback. I use this input to make the second round of work and enhancements. As an entrepreneur you need to be quick, be flexible and eager to learn. That means that, you need to be very efficient in getting things done, and having perspective on spending time on the things that will matter the most.
  • If a task feels too big, and you have been procrastinating it for some time, look up the Pomodoro technique. It really works!
  • Use tools and automate tasks. You don’t have to do everything manually. Work smart, find smart ways to do things faster!
  • It’s easy to feel that you need to be there 24/7. It feels like there is always more work to do. It never seems to end. However make sure you give and allow yourself a break time. I do that every weekend. I spend at least half of a day completely free of work. I do it without feeling guilty, and I do it no matter how busy I am. It’s important to avoid burn out and it’s really important to have legitimate guilt free off time. Believe me, it does wonders and helps you energize and avoid procrastination!
  • There is no one size fits all. You have to try different methods and approaches to managing your time and tasks, until you find the right balance that works for you!

Yasmine Helmy currently works as a growth marketer at instabug.com. However, she has lots of entrepreneurship projects in her profile. She is a national director of Hult Prize Foundation. Hult Prize is the world’s most significant social entrepreneurship competition aimed at students creating sustainable solutions for the most pressing challenges. Each year, a global winner receives $1 million sponsored by Bill Clinton to work on their social enterprise. Yasmine also worked in many other startups as a business development manager and a director.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

I usually prepare food a day before to make sure I don’t push myself in the morning. I typically plan my meetings as soon as I reach the office to coordinate with the team and set a to-do list.

I then zone out to read my emails and get things done. I usually do so by listening to indie music and sit in a quiet room. In the second half of the day, I dedicate it to revisit the to-do list and finish everything that needs to be done before the end of each day. I then go to the gym right after work for about 45-60 mins to re-energize.

  1. Productivity tips from Yasmine Helmy:

It took me a long while to figure out a routine that actually worked and didn’t feel like a typical routine. I used to struggle to wake up early and maintain a social life after work. But planning ahead made it easier to know what’s on my daily plate and what needs to be finished faster. Using a personal to-do list like Wunderlist and Trello for work-life helped me in setting deadlines and priorities.

Also, working out made a huge difference, because it releases the negative energy and increases the stamina levels. I suggest you try out a routine and stick to it for about 21 days. According to some research, you are more likely to stick to a habit of you do it for 3 weeks straight. You can then see if it sticks with you as it did with me.

Try to put yourselves a weekly personal goal so that you have something to look forward to.

Ola Allouz is an entrepreneur who is passionate about photography. Ola believes that being creative is defined by a unique way of thinking.  Ola has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the College of Banking and Economics at UAE University. She has practical experience in the banking field. Currently she is an e-commerce entrepreneur and a Professional Network Marketer. The world of photography wasn’t introduced coincidentally to Ola. Instead, she was encouraged and motivated by the Emirati artist Dr. Najat Makki, who gave her enough determination to pursue her career in photography.

  1. What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

For me being an entrepreneur means time management. I have 24 hours a day to do a lot of things. I can achieve them only by managing my time and tasks.

I am an e-entrepreneur, as I do my work anywhere and I mostly prefer to do it at home. It’s good that I can do my work and the same time be at home with my family. I choose to be an entrepreneur after 7 years of being an employee. I now have more time for my passion, which is photography.

Doing what you love is the best thing one can ever do, as you will never get bored!  I think everyone should do more of what they love. It will keep them going in the right direction in life.

  1. Productivity tips from Ola Allouz:

My advice to young entrepreneurs is to enjoy what they do, and to be successful in it. They have to plan it well, as planning is the most important element of success in any field. Having a planner and writing your to-do lists with specific deadlines can make a difference in what you do.