Positive change: Interview with Raja Al Gurg

Raja Al Gurg is one of the UAE’s most successful and best known business women. She spoke to StartUp to explain how her work with the Dubai Business Women’s council is helping to develop the role of female entrepreneurs in the region, and why encouragement is the key

There is no escaping Raja Al Gurg’s success.

Not only does she excel as managing director of the East Saleh Al Gurg Group, but the high profile business woman sits as a board member of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, president of the Dubai Business Women’s Council, and board member of the Dubai Women Association.

And it doesn’t stop there. Her list of positions also includes member of the Dubai Government’s Economic Council, Federation of the UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry Business Women’s Committee, Arab International Women’s Forum, and of the National Advisory Council for Zayed University’s College of Business Sciences. She is also deputy chairperson of the Dubai Medical Authority and Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Al Jalila Foundation.

To say her energy levels must be high would be staggeringly short of the mark, especially when you note that the above is just the tip of the iceberg, and that she holds membership at many other groups, forums, councils, and organisations.

Regularly, and rightfully, named by Arabian Business as one of the most powerful Arabic women, her influence is evident not only in the UAE, or across the region, but across the world.

As you will likely already know, Al Gurg is a keen advocate for women in business, advancing the cause at every given opportunity.

Among her most active roles is that with the Dubai Business Women’s Council (DBWC), which was established in 2002 under the umbrella of the Dubai Chamber.

Designed to help build awareness, education, opportunities and positive change for the UAE’s businesswomen, the DBWC aims to empower women and encourage them to be active and valued members of society.

More than a decade on, Al Gurg believes the council has made significant ground, proudly highlighting its achievements.

“The biggest positive change we have noticed over the last decade is the increase of female participation in the UAE labour force, and further afield in the MENA region,” she says.

 “UAE women of today have assumed prominent roles as decision-makers, bankers, journalists, judges, lawyers, media figures and scientific researchers. We also applaud those women who have taken ministerial-level positions and those who have established or headed companies.

“According the Arab Women Leadership Outlook report, a little over one in every eight firms in the region is female-owned, while the UAE Ministry of Economy mentions that about half of the SMEs in the country are handled by women.

“The region has also made significant progress in terms of women’s education. The UAE boasts an adult female literacy rate of more than 90 per cent.”

Much credit must go to the DBWC, a non-profit organisation which invites women to become members in order to take advantage of its networking, business showcasing events, forums, personalised guidance, workshops, and more.

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