UAE Minister of Foreign Trade
Minister of Foreign Trade
Is it tough at the top? Ask Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi. For the second year running, the UAE’s first female minister tops our women’s power list. And it’s not just any ministerial position; Sheikha Lubna’s brief involves promoting greater trade ties with international partners, which is a vital part of the UAE’s diversification strategy.
The Emirati national’s background lies in IT; she won plaudits for developing a system that slashed cargo turnaround times at Dubai airport, and in 2000 founded Tejari, the Middle East’s first business-to-business online marketplace. The firm, which is now one of Dubai World’s most successful units, has franchises across the Middle East and was initially funded by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, and prime minister of the UAE. Sheikha Lubna was appointed to her first ministerial post in November 2004 – becoming Minister of Economy and Planning, before taking the Minister of Foreign Trade brief afterwards.
In January, Sheikha Lubna met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss enhanced trade ties. The Gulf country is already the largest export market for US goods in the Middle East. The minister is also currently working hard to sign off the US Middle East Free Trade Area by next year. But amidst her whirlwind tours around the world, Sheikha Lubna has still managed to retain her own business interests, which have included setting up a perfume line. The minister also sits on the board of directors at the Dubai Chamber for Commerce and Industry, and is on the board at the National US Arab Chamber of Commerce.