NAMA promotes gender responsive budgeting for equality equality

NAMA promotes gender responsive budgeting for equality equality
The eminent members of the panel put a potlight on the nations that have successfully implemented gender-responsive budgeting over the years at the Women’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
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Updated 08 December 2021

NAMA promotes gender responsive budgeting for equality equality

NAMA promotes gender responsive budgeting for equality equality

Under its recently launched Irtiqa initiative, NAMA Women Advancement organized a high-profile panel at Women’s Pavilion in Expo 2020 Dubai recently addressing the important question of why gender responsive budgeting  is crucial to ensure women’s equal access to economic and financial resources.

Titled “Is Gender Budgeting the Solution to Inclusion,” the discussion aimed to introduce leaders and decision-makers in both public and private sectors in the UAE and the wider region to gender responsive budgeting, focusing on the importance of viewing organizational budgets through a gender lens in order to achieve the collective objectives of growth, employment and social cohesion. The discussion also spotlighted the experiences of nations which have been successfully implementing gender responsive budgeting over the years.

Eminent members on the panel included Carolina Renteria Rodrigez, International Monetary Fund, division chief, PFM Europe; Maja Bosnic, international gender responsive budgeting expert, NIRAS International Consulting; Hajar Ben Ameur, head of budget performance and  gender responsive budgeting, Morocco Ministry of Economy and Finance; Romawaty Sinaga, public sector specialist, World Bank Indonesia; and Dr. Rosanna Duncan, chief diversity officer, Palladium. The discussion’s moderator was Ermira Lubani, gender responsive budgeting’s program specialist, UN Women Europe Central Asia.

In her welcome address, Reem bin Karam, director of NAMA, said that the UAE had institutionalized gender budgeting in 2015 by establishing the Gender Balance Council. “The council’s objectives to reduce the gender gap across all government sectors has led to the UAE becoming the benchmark for gender balance legislation in the region. The nation’s experience in gender-informed resource allocation has demonstrated that with this powerful tool the benefits of development can reach women equally as their male counterparts.

“Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al-Qasimi, chairperson of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, and wife of the ruler of Sharjah, believes that inclusive and equitable economic growth can only be possible with women’s full economic empowerment.”

“Today there are more than 100 countries worldwide which are implementing different  gender responsive budgeting  initiatives. This implies proper legal and policy framework in both gender equality and in budgetary processes. Gender responsive budgeting serves to connect the dots by linking government policy and budget together, which are often considered to be two separate islands. It therefore increases social accountability and transparency, and ensures that no one is left behind,” said Lubani.

Outlining the importance of gender responsive budgeting in times of crisis, Rodrigez, said: “The IMF sees women’s empowerment as critical to economic progress. With the right policies to ensure women’s participation in the economy, a country’s GDP would increase substantially. It is of utmost importance that government policies for economic recovery pay greater attention to women in order to ensure sustainable results. Recent IMF studies show that in countries with low female labor market participation, closing the gender gap could raise the GDP by an average of 35 percent.”

Bosnic said: “We have for long been hearing that gender responsive budgeting  is good budgeting. However, I would say it is better budgeting. It should be the only way to budget. I will share an experience from Ukraine as an example. I was leading the  gender responsive budgeting project launched in 2013 in collaboration with the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance and supported by the Swedish government for seven years.”

The question was where the funds are being deployed and who is really benefitting to close the gender and social gaps. Ukraine took it further to analyze the impact of budget allocations on women and men in different socio-economic groups. To date, Ukraine has analyzed over 300 budget programs in all the sectors. We discovered gender gaps in all of them. This was because gender equality had not been considered while designing those programs. We analyzed the cause and consequences of this. I am happy to say, that most of the programs have been improved though there is still a lot left to be done. However, the program has resulted to increased women participation in the economy and other spheres in Ukraine.”

Ben Ameur outlined the long history of  gender responsive budgeting  in Morocco beginning from the early 2000s when the country began to consider the reforms needed to promote women’s empowerment. Around the same period, Morocco introduced a project to modernize its budgetary systems to improve the performance of public service. The two came together to create a successful  gender responsive budgeting model for Morocco. She said: “Over the years we have learnt how to obtain better results on the ground. When it comes to national education, a large percentage of girls drop out of school when they reach primary level, especially in rural areas, due to financial constraints. We created social support networks and mechanisms, including the provision of direct financial aid to families, to make it possible for girls to complete their education.

Speaking about Indonesia’s experience, Sinaga, said: “Indonesia has been mainstreaming gender in its national budget processes using several public financial management tools to understand the impact of budget policies on different groups of beneficiaries. In 2019, Indonesia undertook a gender responsive budgeting assessment in cooperation with the World Bank to track progress and further strengthen gender mainstreaming in budgetary processes.”

Duncan noted that the equity, diversity and inclusion functions are usually compartmentalized into a HR activity, when in fact, they should be championed and pursued as part of broader organizational goals. Leaders should be held to account and create a culture where embedding equity, diversity and inclusion is ‘everybody’s responsibility, she said.


Winners of 2022 Zayed Sustainability Prize honored

Winners of 2022 Zayed Sustainability Prize honored
Updated 19 January 2022

Winners of 2022 Zayed Sustainability Prize honored

Winners of 2022 Zayed Sustainability Prize honored

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president, prime minister and ruler of Dubai, presented awards to the 10 winners of the 2022 Zayed Sustainability Prize on Jan. 17.

The awards ceremony coincided with the start of the 2022 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. The ceremony was also attended by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai, deputy prime minister and minister of finance.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum congratulated winners across the five categories reaffirming the prize’s key role in realizing the aspirations of participants to achieve sustainable development within their communities.

This year, the Zayed Sustainability Prize, along with ADSW, joined forces with Expo 2020 Dubai for hosting the ADSW Opening Ceremony and the 13th edition of the prize’s awards ceremony, both of  which took place at the Dubai Exhibition Centre. The event brought thousands of attendees and more than 600 VIPs from around the world together, including heads of state, government ministers, industry leaders and country ambassadors, among others.

In his remarks at the awards ceremony, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said: “The UAE continues to make important strides and contributions to advancing the global sustainability agenda to stimulate economic and human sustainable development, under the leadership of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The Zayed Sustainability Prize remains at the forefront of these efforts as it continues to set the course for alleviating hardships and improving lives by rewarding impact and innovation through a platform that can reach a much larger number of beneficiaries.”

The $3 million prize is the UAE’s pioneering sustainability award that recognizes small to medium-sized enterprises, nonprofit organizations, and global high schools for their innovative, impactful, and inspirational sustainability and humanitarian solutions. Through its 86 former winners, the prize has transformed the lives of more than 370 million people, across 150 countries, since 2008. In the Health, Food, Energy, and Water categories, each winner receives $600,000, while the Global High Schools category has six winners, representing six world regions, with each winner receiving up to $100,000.

In the Health category, Argentina’s Mamotest was awarded the prize for its efforts to increase access to diagnoses and lifesaving services in tele-radiology and remote analysis.

S4S Technologies from India was the Food category winner for its work in food preservation and dehydration systems. They currently directly impact 35,820 people and the SME plans to scale this to 10 million individuals over the course of five years.

In the Energy category, the Bangladesh-based SOLshare created an interconnected microgrid for peer-to-peer energy exchange networks to enable more efficient distribution of electricity across rural communities in the country.

Wateroam, an SME from Singapore, secured the Water category win for its commitment to tackling the global challenge of contaminated water through portable water filters to serve disaster-hit and rural communities.

The six winners of the Global High Schools category are: Instituto Iberia (Dominican Republic), representing The Americas; Liceo Europeo (Spain), representing Europe and Central Asia; Eastern Mediterranean School (Israel), representing the Middle East and North Africa region; Sayidina Abubakar Secondary School (Uganda), representing Sub-Saharan Africa; Hira School (Maldives), representing South Asia, and UWC ISAK (Japan) from the East Asia and Pacific region.


Honeywell to highlight sustainability milestones in KSA

Honeywell to highlight sustainability milestones in KSA
Updated 19 January 2022

Honeywell to highlight sustainability milestones in KSA

Honeywell to highlight sustainability milestones in KSA

Honeywell will be participating in this year’s In-Kingdom Total Value Add Forum and Exhibition, showcasing its advanced technologies that support Saudi Arabia’s long-term strategic objectives related to localization and sustainability. During the event — to be held at the Dhahran Expo from Jan. 24 to 26 — Honeywell will highlight its history of industrial leadership in Saudi Arabia, announce several milestone localization developments and showcase its role in developing a thriving knowledge-based economy in the country.

Honeywell is a global technology company, with a portfolio of software-led solutions that help companies make sense of their operational data. The company’s presence in Saudi Arabia includes an office in Riyadh and a further six facilities in the country, including research and development and engineering centers that develop highly advanced technologies for the Kingdom and the wider Middle East region. Approximately half of Honeywell’s local workforce are Saudi nationals.

Mohammed Mohaisen, president and CEO, Honeywell Middle East and North Africa, said: “We commend the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and of Aramco on the continued success of the IKTVA initiative and are proud to be attending this year’s forum as gold sponsors. Saudi Arabia is a highly significant part of our global operation and a key hub for our advanced research and development programs — the outcomes of which advance critical economic sectors across the Middle East.”

“Our technologies, including those developed and manufactured here in the Kingdom, are solving the region’s most pressing objectives, from driving forward the energy transition to economic diversification across urbanization, tourism, transportation, logistics and healthcare. IKTVA is the ideal platform to demonstrate the impact of our initiatives, projects and facilities in bringing important economic benefits to the Kingdom, as well as supporting the development of the next generation of local engineers and technology experts,” added Mohaisen.

During this year’s forum, Honeywell will promote several important technologies from its portfolio that can help the Kingdom achieve its target of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2060.

These include carbon capture solutions that pave the way for transition to blue hydrogen, and the company’s single-stage Ecofining process to produce Green Jet Fuel, capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 65-85 percent compared with petroleum-based fuel, and Honeywell Green Diesel, which is chemically identical to petroleum-based diesel and can be used as a drop-in replacement in vehicles with no modifications.


Oman Air Holidays, CONNECT ink deal for 2022 MICE calendar

Oman Air Holidays, CONNECT ink deal for 2022 MICE calendar
Updated 18 January 2022

Oman Air Holidays, CONNECT ink deal for 2022 MICE calendar

Oman Air Holidays, CONNECT ink deal for 2022 MICE calendar

Oman Air Holidays has signed a partnership agreement with CONNECT, a subsidiary of Oman’s SABCO Group, becoming the exclusive travel partner for all CONNECT events on the 2022 calendar. As one of Oman’s leading providers of inbound and outbound flight and holiday packages, Oman Air Holidays will offer event delegates, exhibitors and visitors a variety of exclusive accommodation and tour packages, comprising flight tickets, transfers, excursions and bespoke itineraries and add-ons.

“The 2022 MICE season in Oman is shaping up to be a busy one, and we’re delighted to partner with CONNECT to facilitate and enhance the offering of exclusive hotel and tour packages available to everyone attending exhibitions this year,” said Mundher Al-Shaikhani, senior manager at Oman Air Holidays. “With five large-scale exhibitions already confirmed on CONNECT’s 2022 calendar, Oman Air Holidays has assembled customizable packages offering bespoke add-ons and itineraries for those wanting to explore Muscat and other regions in the sultanate during their stay.”

Sayyid Khalid Al-Busaidi, chairman of CONNECT and SABCO Group, said: “CONNECT is proud to be partnering with Oman’s national carrier and tour operator, Oman Air Holidays. This partnership is borne through the shared ambition to position the sultanate as a world-class hub for the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibition industry, an industry that has a fundamental role to play in stimulating in-country trade and investment, and in achieving Oman Vision 2040. Additionally, international exhibitors, delegates and visitors who attend CONNECT’s market-leading events will now have the opportunity to experience Oman Air’s multiple award-winning services, and through Oman Air Holidays’ extensive network of hotels, transportation services and excursions, to truly be able to discover the rich history, beauty and hospitality of Oman.”

Covering a wide cross-section of industry, this year’s CONNECT-organized events include Oman Design and Build Week (March 14-16), Oman Sustainability Week 2022 (March 14-16), Oman Petroleum and Energy Show (March 21-23), Oman Health Exhibition and Conference (Sept. 26-28), and Food and Hospitality Oman Exhibition and Conference (Sept. 26-28).


World’s first OTA platform Zamzam.com aims to transform religious tourism industry

World’s first OTA platform Zamzam.com aims to transform religious tourism industry
Updated 18 January 2022

World’s first OTA platform Zamzam.com aims to transform religious tourism industry

World’s first OTA platform Zamzam.com aims to transform religious tourism industry

Travel agents and pilgrims worldwide are now able to plan and organize religious travels with Zamzam.com, an advanced B2B/B2C booking search engine for end-to-end Umrah travel services, including visas, flights, hotels, transfer, ground service and religious sightseeing packages. It is headquartered in Saudi Arabia and certified by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

A joint venture with TBO.com, the world’s leading travel distribution technology platform, Zamzam.com is the first online travel agency platform for religious travels.

The travel platform was developed in response to the growing need for modern and seamless religious experiences. Guests of the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah are now able to complete their spiritual journey with confidence and ease of mind thanks to curated travel itineraries suited to their requirements.

Highlighting the role of an OTA platform in transforming the religious tourism industry, Omar Akbar, CEO of Zamzam.com, said: “Inspired by purpose and our core values of integrity, reliability, and transparency, we have created Zamzam.com to simplify the process of Umrah booking for everyone. Our vision behind the OTA platform is to assist travelers to search, plan, and book every service they need via a single platform.”

“More travelers than ever are looking for unique experiences and religious travelers are no different. To provide a peaceful spiritual experience, we collaborated with many partners, agencies and suppliers around the world to strengthen our position in the hope of introducing more personalized services and B2C packages in the future,” he added.

The booking search engine leverages technology with a user-friendly interface allowing users to book their Umrah trips with MAQAM — the ministry’s global distribution system. Hotel accommodations, transportation, transfers, online visas, meet and greet services and sightseeing tours can all be tailored to the users’ preferences.

“With the aim to revolutionize the travel experience for religious travelers coming to Saudi Arabia from more than 110 countries across the globe, Zamzam.com is committed to creating meaningful pilgrimage experiences for individuals, partner agents, industry professionals, and destination managers alike,” a press release said. “With affordable rates and a straightforward registration and booking process, Zamzam.com will work in true partnership with all of its providers to pioneer curated packages, competitive pricing and loyalty benefits, supported by a 24/7 multi-lingual world-class support center to offer an exclusive Umrah travel experience.”


Qatar Airways partners with utu for tax-free shopping

Qatar Airways partners with utu for tax-free shopping
Updated 18 January 2022

Qatar Airways partners with utu for tax-free shopping

Qatar Airways partners with utu for tax-free shopping

Travel tech company utu has teamed up with Qatar Airways Privilege Club, the loyalty program of Qatar’s national flag carrier, in a partnership that will reward travelers with a significant value addition to their international tax-free shopping experience. Members of Qatar Airways Privilege Club will now be able to benefit from a 25 percent increase in the value of their tax refunds by converting them into Qmiles, making their tax refunds even more rewarding.

utu provides a simple way to boost tax refunds on purchases made abroad and convert them into Qmiles. Travelers can benefit from higher tax refund values simply by entering their utu Tax Free Card number on their tax-free forms, and choosing Qatar Airways Privilege Club from the utu Tax Free app as their preferred refund method.

By leveraging the virtual utu Tax Free Card in the utu Tax Free app, Privilege Club members will now be able to boost their VAT refund value by 25 percent. As a special launch offer until March 31, Privilege Club members will collect 1,000 bonus Qmiles in addition to 4,167 Qmiles for every tax refund transaction above $100.

Qatar Airways Privilege Club is the latest airline loyalty program to join utu’s new service, which aims to revolutionize tax-free shopping. Travelers purchasing tax-free with the utu card gain a greater choice of rewards, an easier and more convenient reward claiming process, and significantly greater value in terms of Qmiles collected.

Drawing on its deep industry experience, utu believes travelers should be getting more value and a better experience when it comes to tax refunds. Tax-free shopping is available in 50 countries across the globe, including France, Italy, Germany, Singapore, South Korea, and the UAE. utu allows travelers to claim back the value-added tax or goods and services tax for purchases in countries they visit. By the time a refund is processed by VAT refund operators, shoppers typically only receive about half of the total value of the VAT refund they are due. utu is transforming tax-free shopping worldwide by empowering travelers with the freedom to obtain a higher VAT refund, something they have been unable to do until now.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al-Baker said: “Our partnership with utu will allow Privilege Club members the best value out of their trips. Members will not only be able to enjoy tax-free shopping at 50 countries and earn Qmiles on their travels, but they can even get more value out of their tax refunds when converted to Qmiles. This collaboration is a testament of our dedication toward introducing new ways to earn Qmiles, offering members more unique opportunities to bring them closer to their next reward.”

Asad Jumabhoy, co-founder and CEO of utu, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Qatar Airways Privilege Club, the loyalty program of the ‘world’s best airline,’ to open up a new world of better value, choice and opportunities for Privilege Club members. We believe the partnership is another valuable way Qatar Airways Privilege Club is providing exceptional travel experiences leading up to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and beyond.”