I was invited to speak at the RAK Women’s Empowerment Conference last weekend, where 85 women, both entrepreneurs and staff at leading UAE-based organisations, gathered at the Ras Al Khaimah Chamber of Commerce.
It was invigorating to see working women get the opportunity to network in the northern Emirates, beyond the usual Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The event was hosted by HE Mohamed Al Nuaimi, the chair of RAK Chamber of Commerce, and I spoke along with:
- HE Areefa Al Falahi, a board director of RAK Chamber of Commerce, RAK Insurance Company and the Emirates Sports and Cultural Association
- Mona Sulaiman (Mona Tajarabi), founder of beauty brand Blink and a RAK-based social media influencer and vlogger
- Adeshola Onadipe, founder and publisher of Ladies In Business magazine
- Maya AlHawary, an Emirati educator and chair of the board of governors of Dubai Carmel School; the first PhD scholar to research emotional intelligence and its effect on leadership in the UAE.
HE Areefa advised the women at the event to be competent, confident risk-takers and to become skilled networkers. [Read more: How to build your social capital]
She said the event created a “positive impact” by “engaging every single lady in networking” and was a “benchmark” for events in Ras Al Khaimah.
Ms AlHawary, an expert in emotional intelligence, spoke eloquently on the importance of women supporting each other and helping each other to rise, without judging themselves on others’ successes.
It was clear there was a real appetite for knowledge of local success stories; one young woman attendee specifically said she wanted to know more about how women of her age were progressing.
I look forward to getting to know more of the women of Ras Al Khaimah in future.
How Ras Al Khaimah is growing business
- At least five Ras Al Khaimah listed companies have women on their boards: HH Shaikha Alqasimi is vice-chair at RAKBank; and HE Aarefa, Farah Al Mazrui, HE Aaesha Alshihi and Dr Najat Al Ali are independent directors respectively for RAK Insurance, RAK Ceramics, Ras Al Khaimah Poultry & Feeding Co (RAPCO) and Ras Al Khaimah Co for White Cement and Construction Materials (RAK WCT).
- There are 1,300 women business owners in Ras Al Khaimah, according to its Chamber of Commerce.
- Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ), home to 15,000 companies, launched its BusinessWomen Package in 2019, offering a licence, office space and eligibility for a residence visa and a zero-balance bank account. It now has over 500 women-led companies in the free zone.
- Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority has been named one of the Great Places to Work in the UAE for 2022, coming in at no.6 on the small and medium organisations list, as well as no.4 in the public sector and no.11 in the best workplaces for women last year.
- RAK Ceramics is one of the world’s largest maker of ceramic tiles, exporting its sanitaryware and tiles to more than 150 countries.
- Along with the rest of the UAE, RAK changed its working week to Monday to Friday in January 2022, with a Saturday/ Sunday weekend to “better align the Emirates with global markets, reflecting the country’s strategic status on the global economic map”.
- The emirate wants to attract at least 50 cruise ships a season as part of its target of three million visitors by 2030. It is also known for its adventure tourism, much of which is centred on Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest peak.