A large pool of educated women qualified for careers in IT has begun to emerge in the country, with female students outnumbering men at the local universities and colleges.
Official statistics show that 72 per cent of students enrolling for higher education in the UAE are women. In addition, women comprise 42 per cent of the students at the faculty of Natural Sciences, which includes computer science and engineering. At the Higher Colleges of Technology, the proportion of female students is three times higher than that of men.
“The new millennium is all about information technology and the Internet and there is no better option for UAE women than IT, because it offers them the freedom to work from home and requires minimum interaction with others,” said Aisha Butti Bin Bishr, Web Content Developer, Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing in Dubai. “IT has tremendously increased women’s chances of entering the workplace, since the knowledge of IT equips women to take up positions in different fields and use their creativity productively. It also widens one’s horizons, as this is a dynamic, fast changing world offering a host of opportunities and new avenues.”
The United Arab Emirates is one of the most technologically modern countries and also the most wired state in the Arab world. Recent studies show that Internet penetration in the country is more than 25 per cent, which is significantly higher than the figure in the neighboring Gulf States. UAE was also reportedly the first country in the region to allow cyber cafés, which both men and women can use.
“The rapid growth of Information technology in the UAE has come at a significant time when women in the country – both nationals and expatriates – have begun to explore a variety of opportunities for personal and professional development,” said Habiba Al Marashi, Chairperson, Emirates Environmental Group. “The continuous and strong support offered to women IT professionals by the government, the relative ease with which IT can be exploited, the anytime anywhere access to business critical systems and solutions and the continuous innovation and development within the IT industry itself, have all combined to make this an excellent medium of growth for women. It is to the credit of UAE women that they have fully capitalized on these opportunities to create a significant and fast growing niche for themselves in the information technology industry.”
Whether in IT or other fields, UAE women’s progress has been commendable. The availability of higher education has given women in the UAE the much-needed passport to choosing careers of their choice. With literacy rates of around 90 per cent, UAE women are poised to take an increasing role in society and business. A number of women have risen to become owners of successful enterprises or decision makers in corporate circles.
While the government has provided the much needed incentives and encouragement to businesswomen, very little has been done to publicly recognize the achievements of exceptional women. A new initiative launched by the Dubai Quality Group in association with Shell Middle East is set to make the first effort to fill the vacuum through the institution of the Emirates Businesswomen Award.
“Over the past few years we have been noticing evidence of an exciting transformation that shows women in the UAE surging forward to achieve what they want by sheer determination and strength of character,” said Hussain Al Mahmoudi, Manager External Affairs, Shell Companies in Dubai and Northern Emirates. “Businesswoman may be a relatively a new term here, but judging by recent trends we shall certainly see more of businesswomen in the UAE in the near future. It is precisely to make this concept a reality that Shell is supporting this admirable initiative from Dubai Quality Group to recognize women’s contribution in the business, professional and commercial arena. The award will also enable the creation of role models, who will further encourage women to pursue their professions actively.”
The award, to be given away in April 2003, will follow elaborate screening and judging procedures, based on five basic parameters of visionary leadership, future goals, professional achievements, career achievements and community contribution.
The Emirates Businesswomen Award will be given away in two categories, open to business owners as well as professionals. The main categories are Business Owners or Investors and Professionals. The award is open to local women as well as expatriates. The deadline for submitting entries is February 28, 2003.
Thursday, February 6- 2003 @ 18:23 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.