Show Me The Money: Iconic Arab Women We Need to See On Our Coins

There is no doubt that the feminist movement is taking its effect in the MENA region. Slowly but surely, women are being empowered, encouraged, and enabled to be a part of everyday life. While this is amazing in every meaning of the word, we still need to not only support women and facilitate their respective place as a society but also show appreciation and respect, and starts with our historical female figures who created the path for many of us. They established an entire movement in the region, and what better way to so then think of them each time we pay for something. It would be inspiring if we can have our incredible women on our coins, and here is our list!

Nawal El Saadawi 

Nawal El Saadawi was an Egyptian feminist writer, activist, physician, and psychiatrist. She wrote many books on the subject of women in Islam, paying particular attention to the practice of female genital mutilation in her society. She is a controversial figure all in all, but the way she sees it, if you’re not making the patriarchy mad, are you even making any difference? We need to see her in our coins because she is one of the leading feminists in Egypt’s modern history and her recent passing was a truly sad event for those who care about her issues.

Zaha Hadid

Iraqi architect, artist and designer, Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid DBE RA, was recognized as a major figure in architecture of the late 20th century and early 21st century. Born in Baghdad, Iraq, Hadid studied mathematics as an undergraduate and then enrolled at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in 1972. The way she presented herself in life and interviews left people in awe at how stronge and opinionated she was. It’s clear to anyone who knows of her that she needs to be the face of our currencies.

Umm Kulthum

An Egyptian woman that needs no introduction. A name that holds so much art, talent, and history. Umm Kulthum was a singer, songwriter, and film actress from 1920s to 1970s. She was given the honorific title, Kawkab al-Sharq. Her legacy speaks for her and her status as an artist is a dream for all singers. Personally, I think she is literally the first option if we want to put historical women on our coins. 

Huda Sha’arawi

Huda Sha’arawi or Hoda Sha’rawi was a pioneering Egyptian feminist leader, suffragette, nationalist, and founder of the Egyptian Feminist Union. She was the pioneer lady of the feminist movement in Egypt, in a time when women weren’t even allowed out of the house. Her achievements and attributes to women in Egyptian society back then and her leading role in the revolution against the British guarantees her a front row seat in the candidates for being the face of our bills. 

HE Sheikha Noora Al Khalifa

Via itp

Born in Bahrain, Riffa in 1987, Shaikha Noora Bint Khalifa Al Khalifa'[Bahrain] from the Kingdom of Bahrain is a very successful and famous entrepreneur heading a group of companies in the Kingdom of Bahrain and United Arab Emirates. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration, Honors in Master of Mass Communication, and a Bachelors Degree in Graphic Design from a distinguished New York University. In the business field, Shaikha Noora delivers more than 20 Keynote inspiring speeches per year at prestigious conferences and events around the globe. Her rich experience in entrepreneurship is reason enough for her to be on our coins.

HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak

Sheikha Fatima is the third wife of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and inaugural president of United Arab Emirates, and emir (ruler) of Abu Dhabi. She is referred to as the Mother of sheikhs and the Mother of the UAE. A supporter of women’s rights in the UAE, she is the supreme chair person of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and has significantly contributed to the foundation of the first women’s organization in 1976, the Abu Dhabi Society for the Awakening of Women. She was also instrumental in a nationwide campaign advocating for girls’ education and heads the UAE’s General Women Union (GWU) which she founded in 1975. Also, she is the President of the Motherhood and Childhood Supreme Council. At the end of the 1990s, she publicly announced that women should be members of the Federal National Council of the Emirates. For all these incredible accomplishments, she definitely is worthy to be on our coins.

HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud

Born in 1975, in Riyadh, HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, is a member of House of Saud and the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States. She took office as ambassador on February 23th, 2019 — becoming the first female envoy in the country’s history. She has advocated for female empowerment and has worked to expand opportunities for Saudi women within the Kingdom. An inspiration that we constantly need to be reminded of, and what better way to be reminded of than having her on our coins.


Nouhad Wadie’ Haddad, known as Fairuz, is a Lebanese singer. She is considered by many as one of the leading vocalists in the history of the Arab world. Fairuz is considered the musical icon of Lebanon and is popularly known as “the soul of Lebanon.” Just like Umm Kulthum, Fairuz is the Lebanese singer with a legacy that is known worldwide and still keeps on giving, hopefully for more years to come which is why we need her on our currency.

Linda Matar 

The underdog of the feminist movement. Linda Matar, known primarily as a Lebanese women’s rights activist, joined the League of Lebanese Women’s Rights in 1953. She then became their president in 1978, where she presided for 30 years. Also, she was president of the Lebanese Council of Women for 4 years, from 1996 to 2000. She is an icon for Lebanese women, and women across the region with her constant fight for laws against women injustices. Definitely deserving a spot on women to put on our coins.

Amal Clooney  

Amal Clooney is a British-Lebanese barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, specializing in international law and human rights. Yes, the Hollywood glitz and glam made it a running joke that Amal does the work and her famous A-list actor husband, Georg Clooney takes the credit. But on a serious note, Amal did and still does so much for human rights that it is almost a must to put her on the money. 

Our Arab history is full of monumental female figures that deserve all the recognition in the world and then some. Even if it’s just by putting their faces on money.

WE SAID THIS: DO NOT MISS: On Its 30th Anniversary, How Does “Islamic Feminism” Benefit Women In The Region?