Yasmine Shihata was born in Kuwait and raised in both Vienna and Washington D.C. She is the daughter of one of Egypt’s most respected individuals, Dr. Ibrahim F.I. Shihata, the former Senior Vice President and General Council of The World Bank in Washington D.C.
After graduating with an international Baccalaureate from the Washington International School, Yasmine went on to graduate from the London School of Economics with a BSC in International Relations. Yasmine graduated with honours and a keen interest in international affairs. Still, Yasmine always had a passion for fashion, art and magazines from an early age. Her years at LSE helped fine-tune her writing skills, so Yasmine decided to fuse her passion and skills and enter the magazine industry. Thus upon graduation she completed brief work experience programs at Vogue and Marie Claire magazine in London.
After these experiences, Yasmine moved to New York City, where she worked for Vogue magazine as senior assistant to the Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour. This demanding po-sition exposed Yasmine to the corporate magazine world and the intricacies of magazine production and public relations. Yasmine went on to use her experiences at Vogue when she returned to Egypt, in order to create her own magazine. At the time the market for modern lifestyle mag-azines in Egypt was still virgin, and Yasmine capitalized on this by producing Egypt’s first lifestyle publication: Cleo magazine. Cleo magazine was a hit from its inception, as it tapped into the desires and values of Egypt’s emerging sophisticated and modern culture. The magazine received considerable press coverage in its initial year, and is con-sidered as a pioneer in Egypt’s English language lifestyle magazine market.
After a year and a half, Yasmine sold her shares to her partner, and immediately formed a new partnership with three of Egypt’s most prominent businessmen to create Supreme Publications. The new company publishes Enig-ma magazine, a glossy lifestyle magazine for sophisticat-ed Arab men and women with an international outlook. Enigma has now become region’s leading English Life-style magazine.
Today Enigma continues to surpass the sales and profit margins of all its competitors. In 2003 Enigma expanded its distribution to Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, Jordan, Oman and London. The response Enigma had in London was so positive that Yasmine established the UK compa-ny Venus Publications the same year, to provide editorial, public relations services, distribution and advertising sales for Enigma magazine.
Enigma was also become the first magazine in the region to be available in full online (in 2001), with readers from around the world. The company also produces mobile clips, regular online video clips with unique content and hopes to produce an Enigma TV program based on the magazine in the near future.
In September 2012, Enigma launched a ‘sister’ ecommerce site called Enigma Shopping (www.enigmashopping.com), selling fashion and lifestyle products recommended by the editors of Enigma Magazine. The site is the first of its kind in the Middle East and has already had a great response.
In March 2013, Enigma is launching a dedicated celebrity and fashion bi monthly magazine in Arabic called ‘Enigma Star’. This will be the first pan Arab celebrity magazine for the Middle East, with a strong distribution in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon and Bahrain.
Over the years Enigma’s PR division has also organized large spectacular charity events for its readers and clients, including a 5th Anniversary event with a performance by Bryan Adams at the Pyramids (2005) and an even larg-er 10th Anniversary event with a performance by Kylie Minogue at the Pyramids (2010). Enigma has also organ-ized smaller events tailor made for clients, such as Chanel Fine Jewelry, Dior Fine Jewelry, Garrad Fine Jewelry, Fred Fine Jewelry, Veruda Fine Jewelry, VistaJet Private Jets in London and Cairo, between 2003 to 2013. Enigma has also organized private dinners for up to 80 guests host-ed by celebrity chefs Alain Ducasse in London (2008) and Gordon Ramsey in Cairo (2010). Enigma PR has also hosted discussion evenings with speakers like Thomas Friedman in Cairo (2003) and most recently Sir Richard Branson and President Jimmy Carter in Cairo (2012). In April 2013 Enigma will also organize two large celebrity events for the launch of Enigma Star in Dubai and Cairo.
After fifteen years in the industry, the Enigma Brand has continued to grow and succeed despite the political chal-lenges in the region, due to Yasmine’s dedicated efforts and genuine love for her work. Her extensive experience has provided her with an invaluable understanding of mag-azine production, public relations and business develop-ment at a young age. She is one of the few Arab women in the Middle East who has created her own international business, a strong brand name and has become a pioneer in the Middle East’s lifestyle and entertainment magazine industry.