KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 4th May, 2016 (WAM) — H.H. Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Wife of H.H. the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA) and Honorary Chairperson of the Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC), attended the Sharjah Business Women Forum in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Organised by NAMA in collaboration with the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce (MICCI), the forum was held with the aim of exploring ways to empower women in the Middle East and Southeast Asia and to advance their role in all economic, social and professional walks of life.

Speaking on the occasion, Sheikha Jawaher said the UAE, under the guidance of its wise leadership, has sought to empower women out of its belief in their tremendous capabilities and their potential to advance the nation. She noted that women have been able to prove that they can excel and accomplish achievement in all spheres, particularly business.

She added: “There is an urgent need to continue advancing Arab and Muslim women on the economic front. Without women’s essential role in development, a community loses an important precious resource. This is why Sharjah has been keen to provide all forms of support for women through its many initiatives, most notably the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, which is dedicated to advancing women in the economic sector and providing them with training and advice in this area.”

Sheikha Jawaher invited the members of MICCI and the Malaysian business women community to visit Sharjah and learn more about the emirate’s efforts in supporting and encouraging businesswomen. She said: “Malaysian businesswomen have succeeded in establishing their main and influential role in the Malaysian economic system through their various businesses that have not only added value to Malaysia, but also contributed to the Islamic economy as a whole.”

Sheikha Jawaher emphasised that Malaysian businesswomen will find a competitive environment in Sharjah where they will be provided with the same level of support that they enjoy in their home country. She said that they would be widely welcomed in their second home, the emirate of Sharjah.

The forum, which took place at the headquarters of MICCI, was attended by Ameera BinKaram, Deputy Chairperson of Nama Chairperson of the Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC); Datuk Wira Jalilah Baba, President of MICCI and the wives of ambassadors of the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Egypt, Sudan, Libya and Algeria in Malaysia. Also in attendance were members of Sharjah Business Women Council and over 150 leading business women from various sectors in Malaysia The event, which was the first forum of its kind between businesswomen from Sharjah and Malaysia, featured a series of discussions that touched on ways to empower women and strengthen their role in economic and social life.

The sessions were presented by the four members of SBWC; Dr. Amal Ali, Founder and CEO of Cardiff Management Consultants and Training, Raghda Taryam, Founder of Kanzi, Board Member of Sharjah Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Nada Al Lawati, Founder and CEO of SEED Group International and Huda Al Lawati, Senior Private Equity Professional, most recent Partner and CIO MENA for The Abraaj Group along with four Malaysian business women from MICCI; Dato’ Freida Binti Dato’ Mohd Pilus, Founder/Mentor of Cempaka Group of Schools; Mahani Awang, Vice President of Bumiputra Designers Association and Founder and Managing Director of MSP Communications; Sherena Razaly, Founder of Enak Resturant; and Puan Nadira Mohd Yusoff, CEO and Co-founder of Nadi Ayu Technologies Sdn Bhd and Managing Director of GREAT Women of Malaysia.

During the forum, the participants outlined their experiences in the field of entrepreneurship in five areas; education, electronics, investment, fashion and food. They also highlighted the successes they have achieved through their own businesses. The SBWC members praised the generous patronage that Sharjah’s businesswomen enjoy by H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah and the great support they receive from his wife, H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi. They pointed out that this has contributed greatly to strengthening the position of Sharjah as an attractive investment emirate and one that that encourages women to enter into the world of entrepreneurship.

On the side-lines of the forum, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between SBWC and MICCI. The agreement, signed by HE Amera BinKaram, and Datuk Wira Jalilah Baba, aims to promote joint action between the two parties and expand economic opportunities for women in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Under the terms of the MoU, the two parties will cooperate in launching joint initiatives and venture projects that will strengthen the role of women and provide them with all necessary support. It aims to facilitate innovative methods and approaches that encourage women to advance economic development in their communities, thereby contributing to the progress of the nation.

Expressing her delight at the forum, Ameera BinKaram said: “Sharjah enjoys many attributes for a business environment that are of great importance to investors, particularly businesswomen. The emirate has provided women with all means needed to support the growth and expansion of their investments in the future.”

BinKaram noted that the UAE enjoys a special relationship with Malaysia, highlighting that the country has become one of Malaysia’s largest trade partners since 2008 and citing that trade between the two countries touched AED29.4 billion ($8 billion) in 2012. She stated that the UAE and Malaysia had also signed an agreement to avoid double taxation, in an important step that would contribute significantly to promoting economic cooperation between the two countries and encourage more Malaysian companies – especially small and medium ones – to start their operations in the UAE.

Chairperson of SBWC added: “There are many Malaysian businessmen currently investing in Sharjah, but we don’t as yet have a single Malaysian businesswoman. This is what prompted us to organise this visit to Malaysia so that we could identify unique investment offerings in the emirate and examine ways of capitalising on its numerous opportunities, especially those in the sectors of tourism, environment, transport, logistics and healthcare. These particular sectors are very promising – they offer great opportunities for Malaysian businesswomen that provide good returns on investment.”

BinKaram said: “Sharjah’s tourism projects have attracted millions of dollars in investments. These projects have allowed investors to provide products and services that have achieved an overwhelming success in profitability and proliferation in niche markets. There is a growing array of opportunities for Malaysian businesses and SME’s enterprises and large companies in the hospitality sector to supply goods and services to the tourism sector in the emirate and the wider UAE.”

For her part, Datuk Wira Jalila Baba praised Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi and her keen interest in strengthening the relations between businesswomen in Sharjah and Malaysia through the forum, which led to firm arrangements for future meetings and agreements. She emphasised that the visit would boost the presence of Sharjah and the UAE in the Malaysian business sector, with the numerous points of understanding being reached leaving the door open for many cooperation opportunities in the future.

Datuk Baba said that she had been greatly impressed with the efforts being made by the emirate of Sharjah in supporting and empowering women and in providing them with opportunities for development. She noted that the forum had been an outstanding event and one that was very successful in its analysis of the many potential areas of growth, particularly in the areas of trade, the economy, training, finance, partnership and marketing. She welcomed further cooperation with all members of the UAE delegation.

During the forum, a short video presentation was shown, featuring Sheikha Jawaher’s achievements in women’s empowerment. It highlighted her major and significant roles in enhancing women’s status in society through her numerous initiatives and activities in the realm of women’s advancement.

One highlight of the forum was a fashion show that exhibited the autumn-winter fashion collection 2016 of ‘Kanzi,’ a luxury women’s clothing brand and a signature of Emirati businesswoman Raghda Taryam. The show featured elegant abayas, evening dresses and Kaftans with styles to suit different tastes. The fashion clothes were designed using Swarovski crystal and luxurious fabrics, such as silk, taffeta and organza.

WAM/AAMIR