Hundreds of businesswomen from Gulf hydrocarbon producers will gather in London later this month for landmark talks with Westerners on possible joint ventures that will allow regional women to expand their role in the domestic economy.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) secretariat is organizing the March 21-22 conference which will be held under the patronage of Sheikha Hind bint Abdul Aziz Al Qassimi, head of the UAE businesswomen’s association.
Scores of businessmen from the GCC and the European Union will also attend the conference which officials hope will “build bridges of cooperation and create bilateral partnerships” between GCC businesswomen and the Europeans.
The Dammam-based federation of GCC chambers of commerce and industry said it would present a paper on “enabling GCC women to support the domestic economy” at the conference, entitled “the Arab woman and the global economy.”
“This major event is intended to create a unique platform for a dialogue between the Gulf and Arab business men and women and their counterparts in the EU as well as to understand the role of Gulf women in life and in public and private establishments,” the federation’s secretary general Abdul Rahim Naqi said.
Naqi said GCC women’s contribution to the domestic economy has remained low compared with that of men, citing what he described as several economic, educational, social and religious reasons.
“We have to prepare women in the region to play a stronger role in the economic, social, cultural and political life…with this, women will be able to play their part in socio-economic development, starting from planning and producing to decision making.”
Independent estimates showed businesswomen in the six-nation GCC control a whopping $385 billion in banks deposits and other investments.
The funds are estimated at around $175 billion in Saudi Arabia, $85 billion in Kuwait, $70 billion in the UAE, $40 billion in Qatar, $10 billion in Bahrain and $five billion in Oman.