Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Thursday, April 7, 2011

More Women Urged to Establish and Manage Businesses in Fujairah & UAE

Take a look at Fujairah’s Chamber of Commerce magazine (Alghorfa) and see if you can find any women in the pictures.

Take away the international visitors to Fujairah’s International Business Forum and you will note that Fujairah and UAE business women were conspicuous by their absence.

One of the sessions at the Business Forum focused on changing the Fujairah Business Community from a ‘Men’s Club’ to a group where innovative women are actively participating at all levels.

In a session on encouraging new and underrepresented groups to start businesses in Fujairah, Professor Fatemeh Moghadam from Hofstra University in the USA, made the case for encouraging more women into the ranks.

The Scene in the Emirates

Professor Moghadam acknowledged that there are several very impressive female owners and business managers in the UAE but stated that the proportion of women running businesses in the Emirates is much smaller than in other parts of the world.

Overcoming the Obstacles

Professor Moghadam did not have time to develop her points as to how to overcome the desert of women running businesses in Fujairah and contributing to the business community.

Some of the following points were made by her and others emerged through the Question and Answer time and reflection that followed:

1. Acknowledge the Lack: Recognize that women are underrepresented in the Fujairah business world. Put this on the discussion agenda and begin to discover ways of rectifying this challenge.

2. Encourage Entrepreneurship: Acknowledge the obstacle mentioned by Professor Moghadam that in the UAE context of family affluence and oil revenues it has created a situation where only a single bread winner is needed to support the family. Affluence has lessened the practice of the maxim, “necessity is the mother of invention”, so how in these circumstances might mothers and other women be urged to exercise their entrepreneurial gifts in Fujairah?

3. Family AND Business: Acknowledge the cultural factors in which the strong commitment to the family keeps many women from entering the sphere of business ownership. In this situation, how can people (men and women) be encouraged to see that business ownership and family responsibilities might work together in a complementary fashion that enriches both roles?

Furthermore, in what ways might business practices be modified to enable women to combine easily and efficiently family responsibilities as well as business ownership?

4. Education: Professor Moghadam acknowledged the crucial role of education in firing up women of the UAE about entrepreneurship and establishing their own businesses.

5. Home-Based Enterprises: Value and encourage home-based enterprises that are family-friendly, which, along with the Internet are making it possible for more women to be both devoted to their family and engaged in running their own business.

6. Research: Tap into the research that is already available on this issue and commission new research on specific angles. Professor Moghadam said that some research in the Middle East suggested that not all women were interested in developing home-based businesses because of their desire to go out to work.

7. Tell Stories: Regularly showcase in your major gatherings, women who are running successful businesses in the UAE.

8. Finance: Professor Moghadam assessed that the successful business women in the UAE come from the ‘upper classes’, which may mean that they have the wealth to invest and risk in the establishing of a new enterprise. The implication of this is to develop funds that women can use to kick start their businesses in Fujairah.

9. Youth Entrepreneurship: There was little time for Professor Moghadam to enlarge on other underrepresented groups in Fujairah business circles but she named them as young business people and those that come from poor and disadvantaged sectors of society. The issue of startup money is pertinent with these groups but just as crucial is the emergence of business laboratories and incubators where budding entrepreneurs thrive in a context of encouragement and mentoring.

10. Support: A representative of the Chamber of Commerce in Ras Al Khaimah made a valuable comment in the Question and Answer time. He said that in the Chamber of Commerce at RAK they were becoming intentional about providing an environment in which young business leaders might thrive. While he had little time to expand on what is happening he spoke of a Young Business Leader’s forum or group which gives people the chance to share their experience and in such a group find practical and emotional support. Developing links with such an initiative in the northern emirates seems like an idea that would be good to explore.


It will be interesting to see if the Fujairah Business Chambers and Forums pick up this challenge in the year ahead. Keep checking the photographs in their magazines and web sites and take note of the presence of Fujairah business women at next year’s Fujairah International Business Forum.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Facebook Page—Fujairah in Focus.

Image: Professor Fatemeh Moghadam (Photo courtesy of Pars Times)

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