Esraa Al-Buti and Sanae Lahlou join WEF's global leaders class

15 March 2021 4 min. read

The World Economic Forum has announced its 2021 class of Young Global Leaders – a group of “remarkable people under 40” that are committed to making the world a better place. 

Each year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) – one of the globe’s most prestigious platforms for leaders from the public and private sector and thinktanks – goes through a rigorous selection process to select leaders from different communities and industries worldwide. This year, a cohort of 112 leaders welcomed to the network.

Among the group are two partners working at professional services firms in the Middle East: Esraa Al-Buti and Sanae Lahlou. According to the WEF, the EY and Mazars leaders “exemplify what we need most today: hope, empathy, authenticity and the drive to develop solutions that can change the world for the better.”

Esraa Al-Buti and Sanae Lahlou join WEF's global leaders class

Esraa Al-Buti

Having become the first-ever woman partner in EY’s Saudi member firm in 2019 (as well as the youngest ever partner), Esraa Al-Buti has become a role model for female leadership and empowerment in the Kingdom. Today, she leads EY’s Tax Controversy practice in Saudi Arabia. 

Her work includes advising multinational groups and local family businesses on tax advisory assignments and tax- and zakat-compliance matters. She also provides international tax structuring advisory services to Saudi Arabian inbound and outbound clients and investors, and has gained experience with tax due diligence assignments for private equity and corporate clients for transactions in Saudi Arabia.

Alongside her work for EY, the King Saud University graduate is a board member in the Saudi Accounting Association and Prince Sultan University committee, and a lecturer on Taxation at Prince Faisal University.

Commenting on the recognition, EY’s MENA CEO and Chairman Abdulaziz Al-Sowailim said: “Esraa is an incredible inspiration to a new generation of young female leaders. Her technical knowledge and experience, track record and commitment to diversity and inclusion, has catapulted her into the limelight where she uses her influence to positively influence Saudi business and society as a whole.” 

Meanwhile, her news has caught the attention of EY’s Global Chairman and CEO Carmine DiSibio, who said of the occasion: “She’s an inspiring leader who is helping to change the face of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. I couldn’t be prouder that WEF has recognized her as a Young Global Leader and I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.” 

Sanae Lahlou

Based in Morocco, Sanae Lahlou is one of the country’s top female leaders in the country’s professional services scene. She is currently director of Mazar’s Africa Business Unit. In the role, she works on bridging SMEs and innovative start-ups from African developing countries by widening their growth opportunities and turning them into African and global champions. 

Earlier in her career, Lahlou was in charge of International Markets for the Moroccan Investment and Export Development Agency, which saw her promote Moroccan SMEs across more than 40 African markets and help connect them with continental value chains in multiple and diverse fields. Prior to that she held the position of Development Adviser for Africa at the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

Commenting on her appointment, Lahlou said that she is “proud to be joining this prestigious global community of young leaders”, adding that it “is a great opportunity for me to amplify the impact of my commitment and actions in favour of African SMEs.

Managing Partner of Mazars in Morocco Abdou Diop said, “Sanae’s recognition is a source of pride for all of us and I can only congratulate Sanae. It is also a recognition that will push us to continue working on a daily basis to develop this environment conducive to the expression of individual qualities and the development of vocations which characterises Mazars.”

Other members of WEF’s Young Global Leaders include global impact actors, renowned activists, heads of government and senior officials, Nobel laureates, consultants (such as 2014 class member Leila Hoteit) and other important figures.