The American University of Sharjah (AUS) will soon be host to the 2012 Arab International Women’s Forum (AIWF) conference to be held on 16th to 17th May. The university recently held a press conference in preparation for the conference.
Referring to the event, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member, UAE, Ruler of Sharjah and Founder and President of American University of Sharjah, said: “Perhaps for the first time in many centuries our part of the world is in a must change dynamic to include the coming-of-age generation in productive employment.”
This statement underscores the core message at the heart of the AIWF conference held under his patronage on the theme, Emerging economies, emerging leaderships: Arab women and youth as drivers of change.
Arab International Women’s Forum Founder and Chairman, Mrs Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani, points to some startling statistics illustrating the pressing need for initiatives to promote employment opportunities, and utilise the entire labour pool, men and women alike. “According to the World Bank,” she notes, “the Arab world needs to create 75 to 100 million jobs by 2020 in order to see any significant reduction in unemployment and absorb the number of young graduates entering the workforce each year.”
Enlarging on the vital importance of providing equality of opportunity to men and women in the workforce, Dr. Peter Heath, Chancellor, American University of Sharjah, says, “It is crucial that women and youth are given the essential tools, training and hands-on-experience that will ensure that they are workforce ready.” Critically, he observes, “Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.”
The conference will pool the global expertise of diplomats, government officials, business leaders, economists and academics from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, India, South Africa, the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Sweden.
Key speakers include Dr Shaikha Al Maskari, Chairperson, Al Maskari Holding and Tricon Group, UAE; Ms Emma Bonino, Vice-President, The Italian Senate; H E Dr Ahmed Luqman, Director General, Arab Labour Organisation, Egypt; Dr Afnan Al-Shuaiby, Secretary-General and CEO, Arab-British Chamber of Commerce, UK; Ms Caroline Freund, Chief Economist, MENA, the World Bank, USA; Mrs Nicola Ehlermann-Cache, Senior Administrator for MENA-OECD Investment Programme, OECD Directorate for Financial & Enterprise Affairs, France and Dr Nasser H Saidi, Chief Economist of the DIFC & Executive Director of the Hawkamah-Institute for Corporate Governance, UAE.
Student delegates will participate in the conference: the focus on youth is illustrated by two key sessions: Developing youth: the role of governments & the private sector, and How are students & young entrepreneurs leveraging technology & social media to promote a sustainable future?
A gala dinner will be hosted by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce, with a keynote address by Mr Ahmed Mohammed Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry & Chairman of Sharjah ExpoCentre, UAE.
Before joining SME Advisor, I worked as a producer/reporter for Forbes Media in New York. I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and International Studies at the University of South Florida in the US. I am currently in Dubai working as Sub-Editor for SME Advisor Middle East, which is a business magazine published by CPI. You can follow me on Twitter: @joumanasaad or @SMEadvisorME and (Joumana Saad) or (SME Advisor) on LinkedIn.