Boom in entrepreneurs expected after ban on Saudi women driving lifted

Sara Al-Madani said Saudi women are ‘graceful, smart and educated.’ (AN Photo)
Updated 08 November 2017

Boom in entrepreneurs expected after ban on Saudi women driving lifted

SVETI STEFAN, Montenegro: More local women are likely to become entrepreneurs after the ban on them driving is lifted in Saudi Arabia, according to a prominent Emirati fashion designer and businesswoman.
Sara Al-Madani, an entrepreneur and board member of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI), said: “I’m so happy about this, the women in Saudi (Arabia) are a huge wealth and it needs to be properly invested into the economy.
“Imagine the effect it will have when millions of women can move and get to work. It will transform the country and it’s undeniable that force will have a big impact.”
Al-Madani, founder of Sara Al-Madani Fashion Design and the new British restaurant Shabarbush in Dubai, added that not being able to drive has never stopped women from setting up their own business ventures, but “this freedom opens up more opportunities for them so we will see more women on board.”
The entrepreneur, speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the recent Global Citizen Forum, said that the word “innovation” is now trending globally.
“I tell everyone, before you innovate in business or at your work, you need to innovate in yourself, you need to believe in yourself and break the stereotype.
“You need to stand up for your rights and believe in your dreams and accomplish them and, once you’ve done that, you can innovate externally … Women are strong, we just need inspiration.”
Al-Madani ventured into the business world at a time when very few Emirati women were doing so. Defying cultural norms, she started her fashion label Rouge Couture, now known as Sara Al-Madani Fashion Design, at the age of 15.
In 2014 Al-Madani, now 30, was selected by Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, ruler of the UAE emirate of Sharjah, as a board member of the SCCI.
Al-Madani also runs the creative consultancy Social Fish, and is a brand ambassador for Nivea and Natura Bissé in the Middle East.
She said: “This is just the beginning (of freedoms) for Saudi women. I wish the Saudi women all the best — they are graceful, smart and educated.”

China, UAE strike 13 landmark deals

Updated 20 July 2018

China, UAE strike 13 landmark deals

  • Among the projects agreed in the memorandums of understanding are the building of embassies and cultural centers
  • China also won approval to open the first Chinese state-owned financial services firm in Abu Dhabi’s AGDM financial center

LONDON: The UAE and China have signed 13 wide-ranging agreements to advance trade and commercial ties between the two countries.

Among the projects agreed in the memorandums of understanding are building embassies and cultural centers, increasing cooperation in the energy, agriculture and e-commerce sectors, building a wholesale market for livestock, fisheries and farm produce and investing in the world’s largest solar energy project.

China also won approval for the first Chinese state-owned financial services firm to be opened in Abu Dhabi’s AGDM financial center, according to the UAE state news agency WAM.

The agreements were ratified during the visit of President Xi Jinping, the first president of China to visit the UAE is 29 years. The top-level visit, in which he had talks with Mohammed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, is a clear indication of the importance China attaches to relations between the two countries.

China is the UAE’s second largest trading partner. About 60 percent of China’s exports to the Middle East enter the region via the UAE, which itself accounts for about 25 percent of China’s trade with all the Arab world.

The UAE is also close to the route of China’s Belt and Road initiative. The multibillion-dollar project aims to revive the ancient Silk Road and develop an equivalent sea route linking China to markets in west Asia and Europe.

More than a million Chinese visited the UAE in 2017 and trade reached nearly $54.5 billion that year. On Thursday, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid tweeted that the UAE aims to double both of those numbers.
“We have many areas of political and economic agreements and a solid base of projects in the energy, technology and infrastructure sectors. More importantly (we have) a strong political will to start a greater phase of cooperators ad integrations,” the ruler of Dubai wrote on Twitter.

“Today, we have exemplary relations with China and a Chinese leadership that sees the UAE as main strategic partner in the region.”

President Xi arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday for a three-day visit. On the same day, the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) announced the awarding of two contracts worth $1.6 billion to BGP Inc., a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Company, to conduct a seismic survey, searching for oil and gas sites both offshore and on an area covering some 53,000 square kilometers.

Dubai-based property developer Emaar meanwhile announced plans to build the largest Chinatown in the Middle East in the UAE.

After his three days in the UAE, President Xi will go on to Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa.


UAE-CHINA AGREEMENTS - Two MoUs for the construction of embassies and cultural centres - Agreement to advance energy cooperation - Two MoUs to enhance e-commerce ties - Two MoUs to enhance agriculture sector - Two MoUs connected to the Silk Road Initiative - Agreement between ADNOC and China National Petroleum Company - Agreement on customs issues - Framework agreement between the Abu Dhabi Global Market and the Chinese-UAE Pilot Zone - A partnership and investment agreement in the world's largest solar energy project