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18 April 2024

Women increase interest in businesses

By Anjana Sankar


Women entrepreneurs in the UAE have increased their business activities by over 14.7 per cent in the last four years, contributing a total of Dh12.4 billion to the economy. Small and medium enterprises constitute 30 per cent of the businesses. A small segment of 4.5 per cent are also owners of free hold business.

Raja Al Gurj, President of the Dubai Businesswomen Council (DBWC) and Managing Director of Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group said UAE businesswomen’s contributions to the economy are set to increase with more and more women taking establishing their own businesses.

“The total investment by UAE women in the economy stands at Dh12.4 billion in sectors like real estate, financial brokerage, building and construction, trade and maintenance, manufacturing, and food and hotels.

In the GCC, businesswomen have made a profit of more than $100 billion [Dh367bn], and out of that UAE’s contribution stands at $10bn [Dh36bn],” said Al Gurg. She was speaking yesterday at the two-day Arab International Women’s Forum held at the Dubai International Financial Centre.

The forum, attended by prominent businesswomen from all over the Arab world will discuss the role and challenges of Arab Business Women in a Modern Economy. According to Al Gurg, while 29 per cent of the women entrepreneurs in the UAE are company representatives, six per cent work as company agents, 7.3 as partners and only 7.6 per cent owns businesses.

Of the 11,000 businesswomen in the UAE, 14.9 percentage are from Kuwait, 9.8 per cent are from Saudi, 7.8 from Bahrain, 4.7 from Oman and 4.5 from Qatar.

In the UAE, Dubai has the most businesswomen 4,095, closely followed by Sharjah at 3,000 and Abu Dhabi at 2,732. Ajman has 330, Umm Al Quwain, 52 and Fujairah has a total of 95 registered businesswomen.

“The total share of UAE women in the labour force has grown from 14 per cent in 1993 to 20 per cent in 2000. With an expected 30 per cent growth of the female workforce by 2010, women are definitely an integral part of steering the economic force,” said the DBWC President.

Delivering the keynote address at the Forum, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi (pictured above), UAE Minister of Economy said major reforms are ongoing around the UAE and the Middle East to target a tangible increase in women’s participation in every economic sector, and to lift the economic veil from Arab women so that they can emerge as significant voices of their time.

“Female investors manage investments worth more than Dh140 billion in the Gulf region alone – an impressive reserve by any yardstick. Women form 25 per cent of the workforce, with 4.5 per cent owning free hold businesses,” said Sheikha Lubna.

“Approximately 59 per cent of women in Bahrain, 55 per cent in Tunisia, 48 per cent in Jordan and the UAE, and 41 per cent of women in Lebanon are sole owners of their firms,” said the minister of economy.

Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani, Chairman of the Arab international Women’s Forum noted that one third of the most successful enterprises in the region are owned by women, and they are in export industries, new sectors and IT.

“Though, they are making great strides, Arab women in business still face universal challenges such as access to capital and training, access to new markets and political and cultural impediments. These challenges though are not insurmountable with the appropriate technological and human network support groups,” said Al Kaylani.

The numbers


50 - Percentage of women in the UAE who make up the small-to-medium enterprise sector.



59 - Percentage of business women in Bahrain who are sole owners of firms. This is followed by 48 per cent in Jordan, 48 per cent in the UAE and 41 per cent in Lebanon



10 - Percentage of real estate in Saudi Arabia owned by women. Women also own 30 per cent of brokerage accounts



44 -Percentage of women who own manufacturing firms in Egypt, followed by nine per cent in Syria, 14 per cent in Morocco and 16 per cent in Saudi Arabia