Forbes Woman Discovers Middle Eastern Women: Surprise, Surprise!

Susan notes: Forbes Women columnist Sylvia Ann Hewlett may have been surprised by what she found in Dubai, but I’m not. Khaleeji (i.e.Gulf) women (and Middle Eastern women overall) ROCK!

emiratia01.jpgEven though they are shrouded in abayas, a conference in the Middle East reveals just how many women are ready to move up to the top.

This was no Wall Street or City of London crowd. That was my first thought as I looked around the audience at the second Arab Women's Leadership Forum, held in Dubai last month.

Instead of the Armani-clad executives that you would find at a women's leadership event in New York or London, these women were shrouded in black abayas, many with their heads covered with shailas (head scarves).

Instead of the in-your-face confidence I had grown to expect at high-powered women's conventions, these participants clustered together, shy and silent, like graceful but elusive shadows. Products of a different culture, I reckoned they probably had different values and different goals.

I could not have been more wrong. Three days and dozens of conversations later, I was chastened and deeply impressed.

Far from being trapped in tradition, the Forum--spearheaded by the Dubai Women's Establishment, a government agency, and sponsored by a broad range of private companies--sought to accelerate the pace of Arab women's inclusion in the workplace. Keynote speakers included Selma Aliye Kavaf, Turkey's Minister for Women and Family Affairs, and Aseel Al-Awadhi, member of Parliament for Kuwait.

The sessions centered on how to update antiquated and inflexible work structures to better integrate women and allow them to progress to top jobs.

Click here to read the full story:
By Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Photo credit:
Khaleejia’s Life

Related Links:
Funny, She Doesn’t LOOK Like An Arctic Explorer
Emirati Filmmaker Nayla Al Khaja Breaks New Ground
More about Dubai on AWR