KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia: The Top CEO’s forum is back at King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), yet this year the scene is different. The 2018 edition of the one day-event is this time preceded by a day dedicated to Arab women in the business industry.
“Last year, this event at KAEC was a one-day forum Top CEOs, and I think it’s fair to say that it was a largely male dominated affair,” said Frank Kane, Master of Ceremonies and Arab News senior business columnist in the opening session of the Arab Women Forum.
With the fast pace of changes in the past year that fall under the efforts to empower women and facilitate their engagement in social and economic development, Kane said it was felt “appropriate no, essential” to begin (the Top CEO’s forum) with a day devoted exclusively to women to their role in business economy and society.
Kane added: “Women here have the support, encouragement and the backing of a pragmatic leadership. We hear a lot of talk in the rest of the world about the conservative backlash to the changes under way in the Kingdom, but women here have a powerful ally on their side too.”
The first Arab Women Forum, which is co-sponsored by Arab News and the Dubai-based publisher Mediaquest, kicked off on Tuesday, making a strong statement, when the women of Arab News took to the stage on the invitation of media personality Muna AbuSulayman, who gave the opening note on behalf of Arab News editor-in-chief, Faisal J. Abbas, highlighting the importance of the efforts towards gender equality and women empowerment.
“Arab News has achieved gender parity in the newsroom,” AbuSulayman said.
In recent months, Saudi Arabia has made some major changes leading to the same goal that goes in line with the Saudi Vision 2030, which is to involve more women in the workforce to participate in the economic and social development that the Kingdom is witnessing. The Vision states the need to increase the percentage of workingwomen from 22 percent to 30 percent.
“10 months, things have accelerated… and gender parity agenda is a fundamental one,” said Julien Hawari, Co-CEO of Mediaquest in the opening session. “With this agenda come the creation of hope and the fostering of jobs and energy. We choose to see hope with this transformation that is happening in the region. Ways to improve the region.”