KUALA LUMPUR (Muhammad Farooq) – Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness 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 on Wednesday.

The event was organised by NAMA in collaboration with the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce (MICCI). The forum was held with the aim of exploring ways to advance the role of Asian and Middle Eastern women in all economic, social and professional walks of life.

Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi 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. Her Highness noted that women have been able to prove that they can excel in all spheres, particularly business.

She added: “There is an urgent need to continue advancing Arab and Muslim women on the economic level. 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 Al Qasimi 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.”

The forum, which took place at the headquarters of MICCI, was attended by HE 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.

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, HE AmeeraBinKaramsaid: “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.”

Bin Karam 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.

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 stylesto suit different tastes. The fashion clothes were designed using Swarovski crystal and luxurious fabrics, such as silk, taffeta and organza.

The organising of the fashion show, which was highly appreciated by the audience, comes as part of the efforts of Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, an initiative of the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment that aims to support Emirati women working in the field of traditional crafts. The council works to help them develop their skills and optimise the quality of their products. It functions to help craftswomen invest their talents in launching innovative projects that can compete in both regional and global markets, with the ultimate goal being that the women have a source of sustainable income for them and their families.

Prior to the forum, a networking event was organised, bringing together members of the Sharjah Business Women Council and a group of Malaysian entrepreneurs to get to know each other better.The meeting was an ideal opportunity for Emirati and Malaysian business women to exchange information about the latest developments in the business and entrepreneurship field.