Female entrepreneurs are breaking glass ceilings in the Arab world.
We may be into another year of the pandemic but this has not stopped women entrepreneurs from conquering their dreams. The UAE is one of the leading countries to hone women empowerment by providing equal opportunities for women. Women comprise about 70% of the UAE’s higher academic institutions and 44% of the total workforce, which reveals why women are valuable to the region’s economic future. In recent years, the UAE has seen a surge in women entrepreneur partnerships and increased funding for new businesses.
Given this, what are the actual benefits for female entrepreneurs to start a business in the UAE? What makes this country a business haven for females burning with ambition? Contributing Editor, Reefaya Noortaj investigates below.
The UAE business environment is committed to driving gender equality in the business and corporate world by addressing gender equality directly in the workforce. In 2017, the UAE government pledged $50 million to the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative resulting in the closure of 64% of the general gender gap in the nation’s workforce. Moreover, gender equality is one of the primary declared sustainable development goals by the UAE to enter as one of the top 25 countries in the world recognized for gender equality by 2021. This is true and apparent for many female entrepreneurs setting foot into businesses of any kind within the region. In Dubai, start-ups and SMEs make up 47% of the Emirates GDP. The Ministry of Economy declares about half of the small-to-medium initiatives in the UAE are handled by women; just take Dubai’s newly opened restaurant called Fi’lia for example, which is not only owned by a woman but also fully led by a team of woman. Further, 48% of women business owners are also the sole owners of their firms. The initiatives run by the UAE government open multiple opportunities exclusively set for female entrepreneurs, regardless of background. initiatives such as The Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC), The Abu Dhabi Business Women Council (ADBWC) and The Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) grant endless networking opportunities for women to succeed.
Another major support benefit that UAE offers women is the return-to-work choice after childbirth that makes going back to work more accessible after birth via technology-based solutions. Female-focused government policies allow women to cultivate both hard and soft skills allowing women to adopt a healthy work-life balance and become their bosses under the entrepreneurial umbrella.
In an ideal world, women around the world should not have to face social challenges to pursue corporate or entrepreneurial dreams but such complexities are rampantly present. The UAE has become a torchbearer for gender equality by issuing policies and entrepreneurial mentorship for women, opening the gates of innovation, creativity, and leadership to flourish in their field.
About The Editor
Born in Bangladesh and raised in the Middle East, UAE and Bahrain, Reefaya is a postgraduate from The London School of Economics in U.K. and an undergraduate from Sussex University. Reefaya has an immense love for sustainable fashion, social development and art.