Young Arab women leaders’ conference to be held in Qatar
February 03 2014 11:06 PM

Haifa Fahoum al-Kaylani with Arab businesswomen and aspiring entrepreneurs at the young Arab women leaders’ conference held in Jordan.

By Denise Marray/London

The Arab International Women’s Forum (AIWF) will hold its ‘Young Arab Women Leaders: The Voice of the Future’ conference in Doha this spring.
Previous conferences were held in Amman, Beirut, Dubai, Palestine and Brussels.
This will be an opportunity for young women who aspire to be business, community and political leadership to meet prominent woman business leaders from Qatar and the region, alongside representatives from governments, leading business organisations and NGOs.
AIWF founder chairperson Haifa Fahoum al-Kaylani has close links with the Qatari Businesswomen Association, chaired by HE Sheikha al-Anood bint Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani.
Last November she was presented with an award by Aisha al-Fardan, vice-chair, Qatari Businesswomen Association (QBWA), on the occasion of the Fourth Qatar International Businesswomen Forum in Doha.
The award was in recognition of Al-Kaylani’s voluntary work over the past three decades in supporting a greater role for Arab women in the region, as well as internationally.
AIWF links Arab business and professional women in the 22 Arab countries, with each other and with their counterparts in the international community. The organisation has also attracted members from the UK, Europe, North and South America, Australia, Africa and Asia.
Reflecting on her visit to Qatar, Al-Kaylani said: “QBWA and AIWF share common objectives of developing and harnessing the leadership potential of women in business in Qatar. We are on the same wavelength in advocating the removal of barriers to women’s leadership and in supporting the growth of entrepreneurship among women in Qatar and the region.”
She added: “AIWF believes that for the full potential of Arab economies to be realised, the academic and entrepreneurial empowerment of women lies at the heart of the sustainable development of the region. Qatar understands this very well and is recognised both regionally and internationally for its many initiatives to empower young people, male and female, in business, art, sport, science and higher education.”
AIWF has forged strong links with Qatar since its foundation in 2000, especially through the work of HH Sheikha Hanadi Nasser bin Khalid al-Thani, who served as a Founder board member from 2001 to 2012.
AIWF’s current board member from Qatar is Ibtihaj Mohammad Ahmad al-Ahmadani, chairperson and Founder Al Ahmadani Centre (Health Services and Awareness) and executive board member, Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Speaking of her meetings with a wide range of leading Qatari businesswomen Al-Kaylani said: “These women clearly feel empowered by the positive climate and support for entrepreneurship in Qatar, and importantly by the support for the role of women in business by the highest authorities. Of course, HH Sheikha Moza is a shining star, great role-model and supporter of women in Qatar.”
Al-Kaylani noted that “women in Qatar are amongst the most educated in the Arab region with more than 70% holding a degree and 36% now working outside of the home, with this percentage expected to rise to 42% by 2016.”
The importance to women of the support of family was critical to their success she observed: “Many of the women I spoke to said that they were supported by their families, notably their mothers and members of the extended family. They said that this support was vital when it came to balancing work in the office and work in the home.”
She said that she was particularly impressed with Silatech’s Qatar programme channelled through the Bedaya Centre for Entrepreneurship and Career Development, a partnership between Silatech and Qatar Development Bank.
She also noted the valuable work being done by the Qatar Professional Women’s Network.
Overall, she concluded, her impression of Qatar was that of a country which “tremendously values its human resources, empowering its population through top level education.”
Haifa Fahoum al-Kaylani holds senior positions in a wide range of leading business, educational and cultural organisations. Her roles include serving as vice-president (international) of The Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University, advisory board member of London Middle East Institute, School of Oriental and African Studies, board member of the MENA — OECD Business Council and director of the East West Institute. She also serves as a Freeman and Liveryman of the City of London.
Al-Kaylani was named one of the 20 leading Muslim women in the UK in The Equality & Human Rights Commission’s ‘Muslim Women Power List 2009’. In 2011, 2012 and 2013 Al-Kaylani was named one of the hundred most powerful women in the Arab World on the Power-100 List, compiled by Arabian Business Monitor.

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