An Insight into Women in Luxury with Karen Howes

Words by
Sphere Editors

5th March 2024

In time for International Women's Day, Karen Howes, Founder and CEO of interior design studio Taylor Howes, took to host a panel of incredible women in luxury with a Middle Eastern focus. Join us as we share some of the discussion, from sustainability in business to the meaning of luxury itself. 

With International Women's Day just around the corner (this Friday 8th March), Founder and CEO of Taylor Howes, Karen Howes, led a motivating and varied panel of women in luxury. The interesting discussion, hosted at the Taylor Howes interior design studio, took a Middle Eastern focus. With that, each of the panellists have ties to the Middle East - both personally and professionally. The conversation ran through ideas including the meaning of luxury itself and how sustainability is threading into luxury - circling back to compare luxury business in the UK with the Middle East. Here we run through each of the panellists and the tremendous hub of experiences they each hold, along with some comments from each during the panel.

Women in Luxury Karen Howes - full image
The turnout for the panel, led by Karen Howes

Reem Al-Jumaily, the first of the panellists, is a Residential Property Partner at London law firm, Boodle Hatfield. She has acquired over a decades-worth of experience in a fast-paced role handling UK property transactions, involving both high net worth companies and individuals. As a fluent Arabic speaker, Reem is the UK Ambassador of the Women Lawyers Group Middle East as of 2021.

Reem stated that whilst big brands are a long-standing major pull in the Middle East they are, “needing to future proof as there is mindfulness around the next generation”. After being asked about sustainability within business and development in the Middle East, Reem commented that, “there is significant new growth in the area and that they do care about sustainability”.

Women in Luxury Karen Howes - Mayssoun and Reem
Mayssoun Habra speaking during the panel (pictured right), alongside Reem Al-Jumaily

Mayssoun Habra is a distinguished name in the financial industries as a British Palestinian Chartered Fellow of the Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI). Mayssoun has also served in executive roles for large banking groups. Including acting as UK Director and Head of Middle East for Société Générale Private Banking Hambros (SGPBH). Prior to this, she held positions of seniority at the National Bank of Dubai and Emirates NBD Bank in London. Now continuing to work with HNWIs from the Middle East to guide them into international presence, Mayssoun also advises large Middle Eastern families through challenging decision making processes and wealth preservation amongst other trusting responsibilities. It is this extensive experience that granted Mayssoun a spot on the advisory board of London Arabia, Arab Women of The Year. Continuing her long-standing passion and advocacy for female empowerment.

When it comes to what ‘wealth' means and what it looks like, Mayssoun believes that a large part of this is about, ‘elegance, simplicity and being understated’. She stated that, “in Europe we live in the past and present, but in the Middle East they live in the future”. Mayssoun went on to discuss the recent developments in the Middle East, mentioning that, “globalisation has changed the dynamic and the way in which the region is seen, it has become a central hub and place of connection.”

Women in Luxury Karen Howes - conversation
Lively conversation during the Women in Luxury breakfast at Taylor Howes

The final panellist, Pooya Ahmadi, comes from a more creative sector of luxury as an experienced Fine Art advisor and founder of her own production company. Originally from Tehran, Iran before moving to the UK as a teenager, Pooya has stapled herself within the world of art buying and has worked hard to build meaningful and trusted connections with collectors, curators, dealers and advisors across the industry.

Pooya believes that, “the biggest shift in the Middle East is more female investors, more female-backed businesses and growing movement of female empowerment”. She sees this as, “new wealth of the Middle East and a new generation of empowered women”.

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