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
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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.”


Egypt’s parliament passes $11 billion sovereign wealth fund

Updated 17 July 2018
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Egypt’s parliament passes $11 billion sovereign wealth fund

  • The fund will be eligible to participate in all economic and investment activities, including setting up companies and investing in financial instruments
  • Egypt floated its pound currency in November 2016 under a three-year $12 billion IMF program tied to ambitious economic reforms

CAIRO: Egypt is setting up a sovereign wealth fund with a capital of 200 billion Egyptian pounds ($11 billion), the state news agency said on Tuesday.
Former Public Enterprise Minister Khaled Badawi said in March that Egypt was discussing setting up a sovereign wealth fund to manage state companies it plans to list on the stock exchange.
The agency, MENA, did not specifically mention the privatization program, but said: “The fund aims to contribute to sustainable economic development through management of its funds and assets.”
The fund will be eligible to participate in all economic and investment activities, including setting up companies, investing in financial instruments, and other debt instruments in Egypt and abroad, the statement said.
The law, passed by parliament on Monday, approved a 5 billion Egyptian pound start-up capital for the fund called “Egypt Fund,” with 1 billion pounds to be transferred immediately from the treasury, MENA said.
Al-Borsa, a local financial newspaper, quoted Amr El-Gohary, a member of the parliament’s economic committee, as saying that the balance from the start-up capital will be paid over three years as part of the government investment plans.
MENA said the law allowed the president to transfer ownership of any unutilized state assets to the fund or any of its subsidiaries.
It gave no details of when it the fund was envisaged to reach 200 billion Egyptian pounds.
Egypt’s parliament last year passed a long-delayed investment law to streamline doing business in Egypt and to create incentives it hopes will bring back investors’ dollars after years of turmoil.
Egypt floated its pound currency in November 2016 under a three-year $12 billion IMF program tied to ambitious economic reforms, part of a bid to restore capital flows that dried up after its 2011 uprising drove away investors and tourists.