There are still concerns about gender inequality in the workplace in the Gulf, as there are in other regions throughout the world.
Back in 2003, the UAE’s Ministry of Planning stated that “some companies are still reluctant to employ women or some women refuse to take certain jobs”.
While it’s hard to tell whether that statement still holds true seven years later, it’s certainly a fact that the ratio of males to females in the Gulf’s working population is heavily skewed towards men.
There’s also a perception that many Indian women tend either to stay at home or remain in India, while husbands and other family members remit money back to the subcontinent.
But the real reason may be that the first generation of Indians to emigrate to the Gulf and set up businesses were primarily male, and more often than not bachelors.
They found countries that were just beginning to develop their economies, with facilities at a premium and difficult working conditions. Even under those circumstances, women like Zulekha Daud flourished, which is why she placed tenth on our rankings.
It’s that earlier generation which has taken pride of place on this list. However, the latest generation is different, and where women have won positions of responsibility they have certainly excelled.
In the Chhabria family, women have taken on major roles, and BR Shetty’s daughters, Neema, Reema and Seema, are following in their father’s footsteps by managing key divisions of NMC Group.
With 50 percent of the UAE workforce of Indian descent – 41.8 percent of them female – it’s no surprise that all five of the women on our list are based in the UAE.
As evidenced by our list, the Indian workforce is expanding its influence in the Gulf, and women are playing no small part in this growth.
Needless to say, we don’t claim that this list is definitive. There may be many female suitable candidates who didn’t make the grade this time round, but we will be hoping to place a higher percentage of women in the list in a year’s time.
And if there are any deserving women we have missed, please feel free to put us right. The more names we have, the better next year’s list will be.