Working women contribute US$3.4bn to the UAE’s economy

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The percentage of women in the UAE's business community grew to 14.7% in 2006 from 5.2% in 2002, according to Raja Al Gurg, president of the Dubai Businesswomen Council (DBWC).

Al Gurg, who is also the managing director of Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, said this group of businesswomen contributed US$3.4bn to the UAE economy.

This figure was invested in the real estate, financial brokerage, building and construction, trade and maintenance, manufacturing, and food and hotels sectors.

Al Gurg said she believed women's participation in the UAE workforce would continue to grow. While the UAE workforce is largely staffed by international workers, the local population is becoming increasingly educated and the government is focusing on replacing the expatriate workforce with nationals, she added.

"Opportunities for women exist in both private and government sectors, but more are involved in government roles with 40% employed in the government sector while the private sector employs 18%."

Of the 11,000 businesswomen working in the UAE, 4000 were based in Dubai, with 3000 in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah respectively, while Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah comprised the remainder, she said.

For Gulf women in the workforce, only 1-2% of women are in high executive positions, 20% hold administration positions, 35% are in the national workforce while 80% are listed as household workers, she noted.

Meanwhile, Al Gurg told delegates that Arab women needed to address misconceptions from the rest of the world about women in the MENA region, particularly the UAE.

"We aim to change how people in America and Europe perceive the image of women in this part of the world."

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