UAE women own $10.9bn investments, run 10% of private firms…

About 21,000 women own investments worth AED40 billion ($10.9 billion) in the UAE while 10 percent of private sector firms are run by women, it has been revealed.

Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development (MICAD) and president of Zayed University, told a conference that UAE women also account for 15 percent of the members of the boards of directors of chambers of commerce and industry in the Gulf state.

Sheikha Lubna in her speech before the 63rd World Congress of the World Association of Women entrepreneurs said the strong representation followed a 2012 decision by the UAE Cabinet to make it compulsory for all companies to appoint women to their boards.

She highlighted Emirati women’s achievements and noted that the UAE, Bahrain and all other GCC member states have put ambitious social and economic development strategies in place to boost diversification, national labour force, education and foreign trade.

The minister also told the conference that the leaders of the GCC supported plans to boost the assets of their countries, advance the status of women, empower them in education and protect their rights.

The achievements of Arab women including those in the Gulf region, will contribute to economic development, she added.

Last month, the UAE announced plans to launch a new council to boost its efforts to close the gender gap and boost the role of women in building the future of the country.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, revealed plans to establish the UAE Gender Balance Council.

The federal entity will be chaired by Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, president of Dubai Women Establishment and wife of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Last year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said Saudi Arabia and the UAE were two of the most improved countries in efforts to close the gender gap although both still remain near the bottom of its Global Gender Gap Report 2014.

It said the most improved country relative to its starting point nine years ago for economic participation and opportunity was Saudi Arabia while the UAE was the most improved nation for political empowerment.

However, the report painted a gloomy picture overall for the Gulf region, with Kuwait ranked highest at 113rd out of a total of 142 countries examined.

The three-day FCEM was organised by Bahrain Business and Professional Women International Federation under the auspices of Princess Sabika bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain, and president of the Supreme Council for Women.