On Monday, 5th September Links Group hosted delegates on a UAE trade mission led by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and the European Commission’s EAGLE ONE project. The event took place at Jumeirah Emirates Towers with attendees given the opportunity to meet and network with senior members of the UAE’s business community.
A panel discussion was led by four successful UAE-based women in their respective fields – Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Cabinet Member and Minister of State for International Cooperation, Lubna Qassim, Group Chief General Counsel & Company Secretary of Emirates NBD; Julie Irving, Partner of Links Group; and Tara Rogers-Ellis, Board Member of REACH Mentoring & Managing Partner of Mojo PR about a key focus for the trade mission: “Gender diversity in the UAE workplace”.
The dialogue aimed to dispel myths delegates may have had about the role of working women in the Arab world. Although historically the UAE has been perceived as a potentially challenging place for women to do business, the current government has placed much effort on recognizing the contributions women make to business and the economy, and enhancing the UAE’s ranking in global reports on gender equality – most recently the UAE Gender Balance Council was formed to drive women’s participation in national development.
Lubna Qassim highlighted the role of UAE leadership in driving real change in the UAE, citing His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum as a true role model for both men and women in work ethic and recognition of merit, no matter the gender. “There is no stronger message than that of example, His Highness leads by example – he inspires the UAE thanks to the support structures he has made available in the region. I am able to fulfil the many roles that women often have – as an Executive, board member, representative of my country in other parts of the world, and as a mother at home. Yes, there are misperceptions to be overcome, but the willingness to be open and recognize the contribution that women are making to our economy is one that the UAE really does demonstrate.”
Julie Irving added: “Links Group is honoured to lend our support to the important topic of women in business. The UAE is a country that not only welcomes female entrepreneurs with open arms, but understands what entrepreneurs can do for the country. While establishing a business comes with a degree of risk wherever you are in the world, the UAE is an extremely positive environment in which to do business, and one in which gender is really not an issue.”
In addition to the opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the UAE, women in business can also gain inordinate value from mentoring initiatives such as Reach, the first structured mentoring program for women professionals in the Middle East. Tara Rogers-Ellis expanded: “The career ladder for women can be lonely to climb, including in the UAE which is a relatively new economy, so mentorship can provide invaluable support, guidance and opportunity in career and leadership progression. Whether local or expatriate, successful businesswomen should actively mentor – it’s an opportunity for us all to contribute.”
Peter Bishop, Deputy Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry said: “One of the focuses of our mission is ‘women in business’ and what has come across to us loud and clear is the increasing role that women are playing in executive and higher positions in the UAE.”
Click here to watch highlights from the evening.