Despite perceptions to the contrary, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a great place for women to start a business, whether Emirati or expatriate. Admittedly, up-to-date statistics are fairly hard to come by but enough documentary evidence exists in the public domain to confidently back up such an assertion. For examples, check out this article
about a successful Mompreneur in Dubai, and this business survey
Although a lot has changed in the UAE over the past few years, there are some things in business that remain the same: the need for expert, professional advice and start-up capital to finance any would-be venture.
Applying for a business bank account from HSBC UAE
, Barclays or from any major UAE bank in the region, such as Emirates NBD, is a good first step for anyone wanting to do business in the region.
So, what's it like to be an entrepreneur in the UAE?
by the Center of Arab Women for Training and Research
and the International Finance Corporation
found businesswomen in the UAE tended to be well-educated, came from a variety of age groups, nationalities and marital status.
According to the survey, over half of the businesses were in the service sector and their level of external financing was generally low. But almost 90% of the women tended to have an optimistic outlook on the economy and for their businesses. Almost three-quarters of the women surveyed were planning for growth and expansion through increased revenues or employment and/or accessing new markets. Only 8% felt that being a woman was a disadvantage to running their business.
The survey also found that the women who responded represented a variety of nationalities which also reflected the multicultural nature of the UAE. Almost half of the women business owners (47%) were Emirati, 25% were European, and 28% were from a wide variety of other nationalities, including Lebanese, South African, American, and many more.
Under the Constitution of the United Arab Emirates, women enjoy the same legal status, claim to titles, access to education, healthcare and social welfare and the same right to practice professions as men. They are also guaranteed the same access to employment, health and family welfare facilities. In accordance with Islamic principles upon which the Constitution is based, the rights of women to inherit property are also guaranteed and ensured.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan
, the UAE's founding father, once stated, simply and decisively, that women had the right to work everywhere. Women should work and contribute to society, he believed, but that this right would be based on merit and not favouritism.
There are a number of good organisations which may serve as a starting point for women wishing to start or expand a business into the UAE. Check out the Dubai Business Women’s Council
, the official representative organisation for business women, both professionals and entrepreneurs, in the Emirate of Dubai. Another organisation worth visiting is the Emirates Business Women Council
Samya Rahal lives in Abu Dhabi and is a freelance writer. For the past five years, she has written exclusively for the Web on a range of issues affecting women.