UAE economy: UAE to get more women on boards of directors

Event

The UAE government has announced that it will become compulsory for all public- and private-sector companies in the country to include a female representative on their board of directors.

Analysis

The surprise decision, announced on Twitter by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the UAE vice-president and prime minister, was made at a cabinet meeting to approve a draft law on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Further details of the legislation, such as when the law might come in to force, or whether there will be a minimum quota of women on the boards of corporations and government agencies, have yet to be disclosed. “Women proved themselves in many workplaces and today we want them to have a strong presence in decision-making positions in our institutions,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted, adding that the new law included the establishment of a council for SMEs under the chairmanship of the economy minister.

According to the Dubai Women Establishment, a government body which works to advance workplace opportunities for UAE national females, while Emirati women account for more than 50% of the UAE’s public sector workforce, only a quarter of them reach board level. Moreover, in the private sector, only as few as 1.5% of women make it to the board. This trend is part of a wider issue across the Gulf region, where women currently make up just 18% of the labour force, compared with 55% in Europe.

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