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October 25th, 2017, Dubai (UAE): More than 600 business leaders, policy-makers, entrepreneurs, NGOs, artists and youth from around the world, gathered today at the Ritz-Carlton DIFC, Dubai, for the first day of the Global WIL Economic Forum, organised by business facilitation company Naseba.
Held under the theme ‘The Butterfly Effect – From Intent to Impact,’ and under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Economy, the Dubai edition complements the WIL Forum’s year-long initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion.
The forum includes insightful keynotes, high-profile panel discussions, ‘talk shows’, networking and practical workshops, with speakers exploring the significance and impact of diversity as the cornerstone of sustainable economic development.
On day one of the two-day event, delegates listened to key insights from leading personalities including oil tycoon and philanthropist Tonye Cole who discussed social impact, education and leaving a purposeful legacy with former football player and fellow philanthropist Frederic Kanouté.
Themed ‘The Butterfly Effect – From Intent to Impact’ the two-day forum, organised by Naseba under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Economy, examines change through social impact, entrepreneurship and investment, diversity and inclusion
The 19th edition opened with a keynote by Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, in her first public engagement as UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development
His Excellency Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, presented the WIL Achievement Awards
Prominent Emirati speakers included Her Excellency Dr Shaikha Al Maskari, Chairperson, Almaskari Holdings, and Her Highness Sheikha Mariam Al Mualla from the FUNN Foundation – Executive Office of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qassimi.
Delivering the official opening address, His Excellency Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, said: “The Ministry of Economy is proud to be a patron of this successful forum. This year’s theme, the butterfly effect, shows how all of us can impact the dialogue on diversity and inclusion. It is a matter of great pride that the UAE leads the region in its effort to make women equal and proactive partners in our development. Nearly 28 per cent of our Cabinet constitutes women, which is the highest in the region and one of the highest in the world. As much as 60 percent of the government workforce is also made up of women. We have also set up a Gender Balance Council – a significant step in ensuring equal opportunities for all.”
The forum also marked the first public appearance of Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, former UAE Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs, as the UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development.
In her keynote address, Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi said: “The question of whether to empower women to progress is no longer a matter of debate – it is simply the right thing to do socially and economically, it is the norm. All over the world, the benefit of inclusiveness is evident in the growth of various sectors. Women’s participation in the economy not only boosts development, it diversifies national economies and opens a nation up to new ideas and approaches.”
Before the first speakers took to the stage, His Excellency Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, presented the WIL Achievement Awards in recognition of outstanding contributions to female entrepreneurship, leadership, inclusion and innovation across business and society.
The winners across eight categories were as below:
- Female Entrepreneur of the Year: Rana Akkad Attasi, founder, Modern Alternative Education
- Young Leader of the Year: Mashal Waqar, CTO and Co-founder, The Tempest
- Leading Woman in the Public Sector: Her Excellency Shaima Al Zarooni, CEO, International Humanitarian City
- Woman Game Changer: Eng. Ghosson AlKhaled, Deputy CEO, ACICO Industries
- Outstanding Contribution to Inclusion: Roche Diagnostics Middle East
- Best D&I Initiative: ADCB
- Most Women-Friendly Employer – Small & Medium Sized Enterprises: CTG
- Most Women-Friendly Employer – Multinational Corporation: FedEx Express
Collecting the award on behalf of ADCB, Rabab Al Jaberi, Centre Manager, Tamooha, said: “As the financial sector is increasingly embracing technology, ADCB has proven – through its initiative ‘Tamooha’ – that while automation is increasingly becoming significant, its biggest benefit is the opportunity to tap into talent in different ways. Through integrating a flexible approach to its existing processes, the bank demonstrated that it could not only attract and retain women, but continue to engage with the local population and drive diversity and inclusion in a localised manner, answering local needs and respecting local cultural norms.”
Accepting the award for Most Women-Friendly Employer – Nathalie Amiel-Ferrault, Vice President, Customer Experience and Marketing, FedEx Express Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa, said: “In addition to being a great place to work, FedEx has reiterated its commitment to promoting diversity, retaining and encouraging women in the workplace, and measuring the impact of its initiatives. This year in particular, FedEx proved that placing diversity and inclusion at the core of its DNA makes sound business sense, and is an example for other organisations in the region to follow.”
In her opening remarks, Sophie Le Ray, CEO, Naseba and founder of the Global WIL Economic Forum, said: “Diversity is the cornerstone of sustainable economic development. Gender-diverse companies are 15 per cent more likely to earn above-average revenue and racially diverse teams outperform non-diverse ones by 35 percent. Governments across the GCC region have made women’s economic empowerment a key pillar of their strategic visions. This forum is an opportunity for us to celebrate the big and small steps taken by the government and businesses of all sizes, but also by entrepreneurs and individuals, who are promoting diversity and inclusion. By bringing together the experiences of business and community leaders, we aim to draw up a roadmap to further the personal and professional development of women and provide organisations with the tools to make a difference.”
The chairperson for the forum, Margery Kraus, founder and Executive Chairman of APCO Worldwide, a global communications and public affairs agency, said: “We all know that diversity makes good business sense. Today’s interactive panel discussions, speeches, storytelling sessions and think tanks provide a setting for all of us to actively engage with government leaders, NGOs, private sector leaders and game changers around the world. The forum’s strong focus on enacting change through collective action reminds us that we are never too small to have an impact. It invites us to reflect upon the resources we have and provides us with the tools to take action.”
Day-2 of the forum will feature award-winning director and producer Vibha Bhakshi, filmmaker of the ground-breaking ‘Daughters of Mother India’, and Haben Girma, a White House Champion of Change and Global Inclusion Advocate, and the first blind-deaf Harvard graduate.
ABOUT GLOBAL WIL ECONOMIC FORUM
Endorsed by the UAE Ministry of Economy for the past four years, the Global WIL Economic Forum, now in its 19th edition, is bringing together over 600 global male and female stakeholders to champion gender parity and celebrate women in leadership. Held under the theme “The Future of Everything”, this year’s forum lays a strong emphasis on sustainability, and the role of gender, cultural and ethnic diversity in driving economic prosperity. The programme touches upon key aspects of our modern society and explores diversity as the driving force of our collective future. Philanthropy and social impact, as well as education and arts and culture, will be central to the conversation. Designed to facilitate discussion, the program promotes innovative thinking and provides attendees with actionable strategies to further their personal development and nurture their professional growth. It revolves around three pillars: game changers, future builders, and storytellers.
Naseba offers global business facilitation services. The company creates growth opportunities by bringing together people, partners and ideas. It helps clients: raise capital, enter new markets, secure partners, close sales and educate workforces. Naseba’s goal is to create opportunity and add economic value at every stage of its client’s journey. It does this through three key areas: investor services, commercial services and leadership services.
Since inception in 2002, Naseba has facilitated deals totalling billions of dollars for its clients. It has connected over 100,000 global executives through more than 1,000 proprietary business platforms and is an expert in growth markets.
Naseba is a signatory of the Women’s Empowerment Principles – Equality Means Business, produced and disseminated by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the United Nations Global Compact.