Widad Yagoub Ibrahim Vice Chairperson and Managing Director, Bee Petroleum Company. SPECIAL COMMENTS: Mrs Ibrahim founded the Bee Petroleum Company 25 years ago as a small contractor, and it has grown to be one of Sudan’s leading companies with 813 employees and an office in Dubai. The company has seven divisions dealing in petroleum products, petrol stations and housing development. She says that the bee is a noble insect since it both takes and gives back. Her father was a banker and her mother a farmer. Her mother was also a businesswoman and crossed two breeds of chicken to create a new breed that was very profitable in Sudan. She tells me that she learned a great deal from her. She has four brothers who are all doctors. Her daughters are studying medicine and engineering. She first worked on her mother’s farm, and later, following her father’s wishes, studied civil engineering at the University of Khartoum. During this period she married and had three of her six children. Her husband, who holds a Ph.D. in mass communications, is the chairman of the group. The headquarters, which is located close to the centre of Khartoum, has a modest interior. Mrs Ibrahim was very much involved with the photography, helping to move plants, tables and sofas. Several employees helped to clean the floor. There are three boardroom tables at her office, and she always sits at the head of the table. Because Sudan is such an impoverished country, she does not live in great luxury, as she does not wish to show off her wealth. However, she does have several servants and a personal driver. When asked about her villa, she said, ‘I don’t live like a princess, like the ladies in Dubai.’ At official dinners she sits on the right-hand side of her husband, who is seated at the head of the table near the window. She arranged a surprise outdoor lunch with her whole family, including her grandson Mohammed, on the bank of the river Nile close to her farm. We were supposed to cross the river by boat to join the rest of the family on the other side. It was a beautiful table setting with yellow roses. Tables, chairs and sunshades were set up. Unfortunately it began to rain and the lunch was moved into her home. While driving to her home we found ourselves in a severe sandstorm called a haboob. At home she was also very involved in the photo shoot. She set an indoor and outdoor table to be photographed. Mrs Ibrahim wore a traditional Sudanese blue dress called a toube. She is a most remarkable woman with a warm and generous personality.
Series: Arab Domains
26 May 2005 (left), 28 May 2005 (right)