INSEAD hosts the University Leadership Consortium Forum on “Women as pillars of sustainable growth in the UAE”

INSEAD demonstrates continuous commitment to BUNYAN and other youth empowerment initiatives

Middle East
27 May 2016

Under the theme of “Women as pillars of sustainable growth in the UAE: a priority set high by the UAE leadership”, the annual Women's Forum, was held at INSEAD, the leading international business school, in the framework of the efforts of the University Leadership Consortium in the UAE and in collaboration with key personalities representing successful entrepreneurial expertise in the community and leading figures from the industrial and Business management sectors. The Forum’s Agenda included valuable diverse sessions and insightful discussion panels that focused on the theme of the forum emphasizing the importance of women’s role as a key pillar of sustainable development of the society. Holding this event comes as part of the series of events implemented by University Leadership Consortium in the UAE under the Leadership Program and Empowerment of the Youth Initiative. The forum targeted a group of distinguished graduates in areas of entrepreneurship, business administration and innovation from the “BUNYAN” initiative, launched recently by His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, during the annual Arab Knowledge Forum in Dubai.

The event started with an inaugural speech delivered by Professor Nada Mourtada-Sabbah, Secretary General of the University Leadership Consortium in the UAE, who highlighted the importance given by the UAE to support women’s role which serves as a key driver of sustainable development and the need for deeper understanding of this role and its aspects in addition to the importance of research efforts with experts in this area, as is the main goal of this annual forum which should come out with practical lessons learned from these discussions in order to support women’s contributions in all fields and empower them in all possible ways and at all levels knowing that their role is a key pillar of sustainable development. This comes in accordance with the vision of the UAE wise leadership and its strategy aimed at supporting women's contributions and achievements.

Her Excellency Barbara A. Leaf, US Ambassador to the UAE delivered a keynote address in the Forum, where Her Excellency expressed her happiness to participate in this significant Forum ​​which brings insightful contributions and deep expertise and knowledge, bringing together academics, young graduates, experts, entrepreneurs and leading business leaders in the UAE.

"I am often asked if I have encountered difficulties or challenges being a woman who works as an ambassador which is a field that’s traditionally dominated by men and my answer was always as follows; my work experience in the United Arab Emirates has reinforced my ability to contribute effectively to the diplomatic service and efficiently represent my country. I do not want to undervalue the challenges and difficulties faced by women all over the world when entering industrial sectors and diplomatic fields which were traditionally male dominated professions. However, a quick look at the participants who are attending this forum including successful business leaders, diplomats and industry experts, disapproves the notion that women cannot succeed in entrepreneurship or diplomatic work. Those prominent examples in attendance today represent a great testament on women’s success and excellence, especially here in the United Arab Emirates, which has a large number of ambassadors representing the country abroad,” commented Her Excellency US ambassador.

“The support received by the Emirati woman from the Mother of UAE H.H Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Al-Nahyan is one of the most important incentives and factors of success and excellence of women in this area. I am really impressed with her ongoing activities and initiatives directed towards women empowerment, in addition to the efficient role of women rights organizations here in the UAE. For example, an agreement was recently signed with the UAE and US embassy to host thirty female athletes from the US within a fantastic sports training program. And I can say that we have exchanged a lot of experiences and insights with the UAE given the unique Emirati experience that accompanied the rapid economic development which came in parallel with great social progress and advancement. Moreover, I would like to stress on the importance of the great support shown by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid for women to encourage them to excel and innovate, as HH has given women the opportunity to develop and establish a number of new ministries that focus on women's affairs, and this is a great testament on the great respect demonstrated by the UAE leadership for the Emirati women and her achievements over forty-four years,” Her Ecxellency added.

Dr. Shaikha Al Maskari – the Chairwoman of Al Maskari Holding Group, delivered the key speech representing the UAE where she provided an in-depth analysis of the fundamental and continuous role played by women and their great contributions and ongoing support in advancing and empowering the UAE community since its very beginnings.  Al Maskari highlighted the traditional role associated to women which was directed to all aspects of family development, whether internal or external at the times when men were away trading or pearl diving under the seas. She emphasized that this role has been sustained since forty-four years with the same effectiveness as a woman remains a wife and a mother and a sister, committed to raising new generations. Al Maskari enriched her speech with examples from her life experience.

Professor Miguel Lobo, Director of INSEAD Abu Dhabi delivered an opening speech at the forum that included a number of scientific comparative research data performed by fellow experts at INSEAD, on ways to empower and reinforce the role of women in families and society and in all areas they are entering and exceling at. Lobo mentioned that this gathering is the third event implemented by INSEAD on a row on women’s role and efforts aimed at empowering women and supporting their contributions to society as INSEAD gives great importance to in-depth scientific studies and programs focusing on women’s role out of its strong belief in the importance of these studies and the vital and strategic importance of this topic for the UAE community overall.

The first session entitled “Reinforcing Women’s Role and Status in UAE and Gulf Businesses” focused in its discussions and insights on all aspects of this vital subject.

The second session, which included a family like talk and interactive conversations aimed at deeply exploring this topic, addressed the role of women as a key pillar for sustainable development, and was presented by Mohamed Kanoo, Deputy CEO of Kanoo Group and shared many insights and interactive discussions with the attendance.

This was followed by an exclusive dialogue with Hatem Nuseibeh, President of Total E&P UAE which was conducted by Miguel Lobo with rich interaction and participation from the attendance who asked questions and shared their valuable ideas. From his own experience and leading position in the oil sector and speaking on the importance of hosting these events to empower and support women, Nuseibeh said: "Out of my own work experience, I believe we have witnessed a significant leap during the last forty years, though it didn’t meet the required level yet given the strong presence of women in various companies and sectors. Therefore, women should be further supported and empowered in order to attain the required level and boost their contributions because failing to invest in their potential and their absence in these fields represent a big loss worth millions of dollars. We hope that these forums contribute to activating women’s role and helping them unlock their potential and achieve a prominent position and  great efficiency. "

The third session discussed “The role of Multinational Companies in Women Empowerment in the UAE” topic and participants included Kaye Krause-Whiteing, Vice President of Petrofac Group and Lisa Meeks, Manager of Fraud Investigations and Disputes Services at Ernst & Young and the Executive Director of the French Business Group in Abu Dhabi, Maelle Morvan.

The event’s final session focused on the role of women in areas of leadership and entrepreneurship in the United Arab Emirates, and why both education and health care are key to activate this role. It was moderated by Nina Curley, Director of Launchpad UAE-based enterprise. Genevieve Miraillet,   "Women Empowerment" Initiative Founder at the French Business Group, opened the session while James Arnott, Accenture Managing Director enriched the discussions sharing his knowledgeable insights and expertise with the audience.

Highlighting the importance of the Forum, Maysoon Barber, Managing Director of Fatima Bint Hazza Cultural Foundation, said: "This forum reflects our own vision at the Foundation which aims to empower women and support youth capacity building, in line with the beliefs of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan which follow the vision of  Mother of UAE directed towards reinforcing the pillars of our country by building a new generation armed with knowledge and innovation and promoting technology in a rich and interactive approach that focuses on patriotism, tolerance, philanthropy and mutual respect.” Barber stressed on the need to encourage youth to embark on creativity journey and spare no effort to provide them with opportunities that unlock their potential and stimulate them to create a positive competitive environment and diversify their academic disciplines.”

The President of the American University of Sharjah Alumni Association (AUSAA), Samer El Gamal recognized the importance of the topics chosen for discussion in the forum and the event’s being held under the umbrella of University Leadership Consortium in the UAE known for its unwavering support for adopting effective initiatives especially those highlighting the importance of women education to empower them and reinforce their role in the job market.

In the same context, Ahmed Saleh Al Yafei, Director of Abu Dhabi Art Hub stressed El Gamal’s viewpoint emphasizing his support for all women’s endeavors in various work fields and contributing with some valuable insights from Abu Dhabi Art Hub experience in this area and offering distinctive models of creative Emirati women. His participation enriched the discussion and covered several important aspects supporting the theme of the forum.


About INSEAD, The Business School for the World

As one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, INSEAD brings together people, cultures and ideas to develop responsible leaders who transform business and society. Our research, teaching and partnerships reflect this global perspective and cultural diversity.

With locations in Europe (France), Asia (Singapore), the Middle East (Abu Dhabi), and now North America (San Francisco), INSEAD's business education and research spans four regions. Our 165 renowned Faculty members from 41 countries inspire more than 1,300 degree participants annually in our MBA, Global Executive MBA, Specialised Master’s degrees (Executive Master in Finance and Executive Master in Change) and PhD programmes. In addition, more than 11,000 executives participate in INSEAD Executive Education programmes each year.

INSEAD continues to conduct cutting-edge research and innovate across all our programmes. We provide business leaders with the knowledge and awareness to operate anywhere. Our core values drive academic excellence and serve the global community as The Business School for the World.

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