A landmark agreement, a Memorandum of Understanding, (MOU) was signed between the Arab British Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) and the Arab International Women’s Forum (AIWF) at a celebratory reception hosted by the Chamber at 43 Upper Grosvenor Street,
London in the presence of a prestigious company of guests from government, diplomatic, business and professional circles joining with members and partners of both organisations.
The signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding, Dr Afnan Al Shuaiby, Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of the Arab British Chamber of Commerce, and Mrs Haifa Al Kaylani, Chairman of the Arab International Women’s Forum, both expressed their commitment to the spirit and intent of the document to create a powerful coalition to jointly promote trade and enhance business ties between Arab women and their British and international counterparts and to foster economic growth within the United Kingdom, the Arab world’s largest trading partner and the 22 states of the Arab League.
Dr Afnan Al Shuaiby, in expressing her admiration for the substantive and growing programme of activities undertaken by the AIWF under its founder and chairman Mrs Haifa Al Kaylani, stated that the agreement heralds a new stage in the relations between the two organisations. She went on to confirm her belief that Arab women are increasingly making their presence felt in the boardroom, as investors and as decision makers in a wide range of areas of the economy and in public life but that a lot remains to be done before the full potential of women can be fully realised.
Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, the ABCC and AIWF will join together in planning a series of events and activities, within the UK and across the Arab world, that will nurture and build connections and partnerships, strengthening the trading capacity of their respective members. The ABCC-AIWF Programme will be supported by information and training seminars or meetings on key issues to help enhance business and financial expertise and highlight the conditions and opportunities for all types of trading and they plan to have a sharp focus on activities that provide face-to-face connectivity such as trade missions.
Mrs Haifa Al Kaylani, in expressing her appreciation for the invitation received to co-sign the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of AIWF, paid tribute to the work of the Chamber, spanning over 30 years, in building and strengthening relations between the UK and the Arab world and encouraging and promoting Arab-British trade and economic cooperation. She also commended Dr Al Shuaiby upon her appointment as the first woman Secretary General and CEO in the history of the Chamber.
She stated that the Chamber, established under the banner of ‘Friendship through Trade’, shares many common objectives with AIWF whose mission, since it was founded in 2001, has been ‘Building Bridges, Building Business’, thereby seeking to bring together Arab women business leaders and entrepreneurs with their counterparts in the United Kingdom and the international community to strengthen their existing networks and to widen their sphere of collaboration.
Other features of the commonality between the two organisations are:
- A strong belief that a commitment to education, innovation, public-private collaboration and fostering business ties will pave the way for progress and prosperity.
- A commitment to enhanced communication and understanding between the Arab world and the United Kingdom as well as the international community.
- Their work with governments and civil society is aimed at showcasing the role of business leaders and entrepreneurs from the Arab world.
- A firm belief that the respective economies will only achieve growth and stability if there is the utilisation and optimisation of the human resource, not forgetting that women form 50% of that resource..
- The placing of great strategic importance on the development of global networks and the establishment of important alliances with multinational corporations across all sectors whose commitment to diversity enhances the recruitment, training and development of women as key contributors to the Arab human capital pool.
Mrs Al Kaylani concluded by emphasising her belief that at a time when economies around the globe are struggling to emerge from the current recession, there are many strong women-led businesses that can make a valuable contribution to the economic recovery. Indeed not only in business, but also in political and social leadership, women’s integrity and ingenuity is needed more than ever.
The Guest of Honour at this event was the prominent Arab woman business leader, HH Sheikha Hanadi Nasser Bin Khalid Al Thani, Founder & Chairperson, Amwal, a leading Investment Banking, Asset Management and Wealth Management company from Qatar. In her remarks, Sheikha Hanadi said how pleased she was to witness this signing between two organisations, keen to foster business exchange and trade between Arab women and their international counterparts and she was very proud to be a Board Member of the Arab International Women's Forum, and of the recognition that their work and development had received through this agreement."
While there has been a considerable measure of collaboration between the two organisations, the recognition of a formal partnership will allow the ABCC and AIWF to strengthen the capacity of both organisations in their mission to showcase the potential of Arab women, to promote cross-cultural diversity and to create greater public awareness of women’s success and prospects in the Arab world with a strong emphasis on trade.
Dr Al Shuaiby and Mrs Al Kaylani both expressed their great pleasure in the establishment of this valuable link and looked forward to the future cooperation of the two organisations on their joint objective to promote trade and new business partnerships.
Global Arab Network
This report appears in the latest issue of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce fortnightly bulletin, Arab-British Business. (Report Credit: AIWF)