‘Women in leadership is no longer a taboo’

Healthcare, dispelling myths about Arab women to be in focus during women council’s trade mission to France

By Kelly Clarke/staff Reporter

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Published: Wed 27 May 2015, 12:39 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:39 PM

Dubai - As representatives from the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC) prepare to make a trade mission to France later this week, mission spokesperson, Nadine Halabi, says healthcare will be one of the main topics of the agenda.

“We have a number of primary meetings set up regarding the growth plan for Dubai’s healthcare prospective,” she told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview on Sunday.

From May 31 to June 4, President of DBWC, Raja Easa Al Gurg, will visit Paris with Halabi and seven DBWC board members to discuss business opportunities between the two countries.

With a key focus to explore the healthcare opportunities on offer, Halabi said the delegation will be looking to cement business liaisons with its French counterparts on potential, best in practice health-related initiatives and projects.

“So far there is nothing set in stone in regards to official business ties in health but we’re going to see what’s on offer. Depending on how the meetings go, future partnerships could include the coming up of additional medical colleges here or the introduction of new medical techniques in existing health facilities.”

Referring to a trade mission trip to the UK last year where Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) entered a partnership with Queen’s University Belfast, Halabi said it’s partnerships like this which help strengthen the UAE’s economy.

“An amazing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences and its College of Medicine was signed during this trip. To be able to share such bilateral trade with our counterparts is paramount to the UAE’s continued growth.”

Representing women in business in the UAE as well as the work of DBWC, one of Halabi’s key roles on this upcoming trip is to dispel some of the myths many have about women in the Arab world.

“Women are making a big difference in all aspects of the UAE’s progression. Women in leadership is no longer a taboo. We are seen as equal and that is hugely in part to the endorsement of the country’s leadership. We want to communicate this to our overseas counterparts,” she said. As women empowerment continues to gain huge momentum in the Mena region, Halabi — a self-titled “child of the UAE” — said she has seen incredible change growing up here.

“Back then, very few of my friends had mothers who worked but now we are seeing successful mothers multitasking as successful businesswomen.” With many now travelling abroad to study too, women throughout the Middle East are at the forefront of an economic shift which is helping lead the way for change in business, government and society as a whole. “We no longer question when women will be seen as equal here. They are already seen as equal,” she said.

And as this change in attitude continues to strengthen the UAE’s economy, Halabi said it is only a matter of time before gender biased terminology such as “the glass ceiling” will be eradicated from our vocabulary altogether. -kelly@khaleejtimes.com

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