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Qatar International Business Women Forum reports more than 1,000 delegates.

The Fourth annual Qatar International Business Women Forum, organized by Qatari Business Women's Association (QBWA) in collaboration with Interactive Business Network (IBN), opened today (11 November) welcoming more than 1,000 delegates from 39 countries around the world.

The two-day international platform for issues on promoting women in business is held at the St Regis Hotel, Doha under the patronage of HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, the Minister of Economy and Trade. The theme of this year's event is "Arab business women as change makers".

The keynote speakers who gave words of welcome to open the Forum were HE Dr Mohammed bin Saleh al Sada, Minister of Energy and Industry; Aisha Alfardan, Vice Chairwoman of Qatar Business Women Association; Wael Sawan, Managing Director and Chairman of Qatar Shell, Barton Cahir, President of Exxon Mobil Qatar and Raed Chehaib, CEO of event organisers IBN.

HE Dr al Sada said, "We must confirm the status and the important role women play in society. The case is not in the empowerment of women but in giving women the women their own, real status. Qatar has taken a push from a national road map to a better society under the Qatar National Vision 2030. This vision concentrates on education and social development as the main tools helping women to play a very important role in all fields of society - taking economic and social decisions. The state of Qatar has done its best to include women in all national development and strategic plans."

He added, "Nothing can stand in the face of change. The role of business women is as change makers - as pioneers. They must inspire others and motivate change."

QBWA Vice Chairwoman Aisha Alfardan said, "This Forum is to help Qatari, Gulf and Arab women. We will discuss the obstacles they face in the Arab region and how we can work together, hand-in-hand, to overcome these and find solutions.

"The Forum is about cooperation and working together to advance the role of women in business throughout the world. It is a platform for discussion on the key issues faced by all women, regardless of nationality, and an opportunity to act as a unified voice representing the interests of all women in all sectors of business."

Qatar Shell Managing Director and Chairman Wael Sawan said, "What a time it is to be standing here and taking about such a critical issue. In the region, we have invested in education and training, unleashing the talent of not only our men but also our women. We have leaders in business and religious communities, leaders of science and professions. This is a massive welcome change in the region."

Barton Cahir, President and General Manager of Qatar Shell said, "There is far greater recognition of the value diverse teams bring to improving business results and sustaining success. The growing rate of women in business and in leadership roles proves we are making progress. As the leader of an organization, I understand it is my responsibility to foster a work environment that enables all employees to grow and thrive, while recognizing that we need a specific focus on women."

Raed Chehaib, CEO of IBN, said: "Welcome to all the change makers, men and women, who have come from all corners of the world representing 39 countries at the forum. It is a meeting of cultures par excellence, combining the wisdom of the East with the dynamism of the West.

"Perhaps what our world is most in need of these days is intelligence of a different kind: an intelligence that has nothing to do with growth for the sake of growth, but which business women are much better at - emotional intelligence. Our list of speakers includes business leaders, government officials and policy makers, thinkers and experts from the region and internationally who will undoubtedly enrich the forum with their ideas and debates on the issues."

First lady of Malaysia HE Datin Seri Rosmah binti Mansor gave a rousing keynote speech on the empowerment of Malaysia women, saying: "I am proud that more women are stepping up to make a difference. Today I see Muslim business women running prosperous and profitable companies throughout the world. The list of powerful women in business is getting longer. But we still have to face the stark reality that women are still at a disadvantage.

"It is time to put women at the heart of the global growth story. To empower women is to give them a voice and give them self-worth to realize their full potential," she said. HE Datin Seri Rosmah binti Mansor went on: "No organization or country can flourish without considering the situation of women. Women must try to change their status as economic, cultural, social and political forces through empowerment and maximizing their strengths. They must do this without neglecting their roles and responsibilities as wives and mothers.

"By doing this, the glass ceiling can be broken or even shattered."

Also at the opening ceremony, the Minister of Energy and Industry HE Dr Al Sada and Qatar University President Professor Sheikha Al Misnad were among five prominent international figures who were awarded in recognition for their significant contributions to their country's economic growth and development, and for playing an active role in supporting the empowerment of women.

HE Datin Seri Rosmah binti Mansor, Dr Maryam Matar - Chairman and Founder of the UAE Genetic Diseases Association and Haifa Al Kaylani - Founder and Chairman of the Arab International Women's Forum were also honored.

Afternoon workshops included sessions on "Business women: the future catalysts of change in the Arab region" and MENA Business Women Network "Ladies Business Platform: a new window of investment".

This year's event saw the widest-ever participation, with delegates from Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Russia, China, Malaysia, USA, Australia and countries throughout the Middle East.

Zelda Citwa, a tour operator who travelled from South Africa to attend the Forum, said: "We are all females facing challenges - looking at how to run our businesses, look after our families and make the balance. These problems transcend national boundaries - they are the same issues we are all facing around the world. The initiative taken by the Qataris to have this forum which assists all business women is to be applauded."

The Forum concludes tomorrow with workshops on Women business leaders: styles and techniques, harnessing the potential of Arab Business Women, the power of leadership development and mentoring, and Financial support for women entrepreneurs and innovators.

2013 CPI Financial. All rights reserved.

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Publication:CPI Financial
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Nov 11, 2013
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