First BWF


Final Report of the First Forum for Businesswomen

in Islamic Countries

Sharjah -United Arab Emirates, 1-3 March, 2005

In pursuance of Resolution No. (9) of the 18th General Assembly Meeting, held in Amman, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on 7th January 2002, which adopted the following resolution:

Quote: The General Assembly reviewed the report of the 8th Private Sector Meeting and the Conakry Economic Declaration and commended on the successful outcome of the meeting and the positive decisions of the COMCEC on this matter and emphasized the importance of holding sectoral meetings for the businesswomen of the Islamic Countries.

Under the kind patronage of Her Highness Shaikha Jawaher Al-Qasimi wife of the Ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah and represented in the inauguration by H.H. Shaikh Tariq Bin Faisal Al-Qasimi, Chairman of Economic Development Authority of Sharjah Emirate and on the kind invitation of the Federation ofU.A.E. Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Islamic Chamber held the First Forum for Businesswomen in Islamic countries, was held in Sharjah – U.A.E.from 1stto 3rd March 2005 corresponding to 20-22 Muharram 1426h, in collaboration with the Federation of U.A.E. Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, UAE Businesswomen Council and Sharjah Businesswomen Council. The Forum was held under the theme of “Partners in Economic and Social Development”

Alongwith the Business Forum, a trade fair was also held for the businesswomen from 1 – 4March 2005 in Sharjah – U.A.E. at Expo Centre.

The Forum was attended by around 250 delegates representing 32 OIC Member Countries (Lists attached) and International Organizations: Islamic Development Bank (IDB), High Consultative Committee for Islamic Laws – Kuwait, Femmes Africa Solidarite, Womens Solidarity Associations of Iran, Arab Business Women Council of Kuwait, Bahrain and Egypt, Small and Medium Enterprises Authority of Pakistan, Arab Women Investors Union, Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Pakistan.


The Forum was inaugurated at 09:00 a.m., on Tuesday, March 01, 2005, at SAS Radisson Hotel, in Sharjah, by the recitation from the Holy Quran. The following dignitaries delivered their speeches:

  • Address of Her Highness Shaikha Jawaher Al-Qasimi, Patron In-Chief and Chief Guest, delivered by H.H. Shaikh Tariq Bin Faisal Al-Qasimi, Chairman of Economic Development Authority of Sharjah Emirate.
  • Address by H.E. Shaikha Lubna Al-Qasimi, Minister of Economy & Planning ofU.A.E, delivered by H.E. Abdul Latif Hammad, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy & Planning ofU.A.E.
  • Speech by Federation ofU.A.E. ChambersofCommerce and Industry delivered by H.E. Abdullah Rashid Al-Kharji, Vice President of Federation of U.A.E. Chambers of Commerce & Industry and President of Umm Al Quwain Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • Speech by H.E. Aqeel A. Al-Jassem, Secretary General of Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Address byH.E. Raja Easa Al Gurg, Chairperson, Council of U.A.E. Businesswomen.
  • Speech by Madam Hoda Galal Yassa, Chairperson, Association of Arab Women Investor
  • Speech by Madam Laila Sahlab Karamy[*], Lebanese Businesswomen Association

Office Bearers

The Forum nominated the following office bearers:

  • Chairperson – H..E.Raja Easa Al Gurg from U .A.E
  • Vice Chairperson – Madam Akoa Angelliene from Cameroon
  • Rapporteur – Ms. Attiya Nawazish A1i from Islamic Chamber

Drafting Committee

A Drafting Committee was set up covering of the following:

  • Ms. Attiya Nawazish Ali, Asst. Secretary General (Fin. & Admin. Affairs), ICCI
  • Mr. Jawad Abdul Karim, Federation of U.A.E. Chambers of Commerce & Industry
  • Mr. Saidou Roufaou, Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines & Crafts of Cameroon


The Exhibition was opened at SharjahExpoCenter in the presence of H.H. Shaikh Tariq Bin Faisal Al-Qasimi, Chairman of Economic Development Authority of Sharjah Emirate, Heads of Delegations, other dignitaries and delegates. The stalls displayed various items being produced by the Businesswomen of the Islamic countries.


Five sessions were held for the presentation of papers, covering various aspects concerning the role and issues of the businesswomen, with possible proposals to overcome these issues. These sessions were followed by discussions and question answers.

  • “Status of Women in Islam and her role in socio-economic development” Keynote by: Dr. Shaikh Khalid Al-Mazkoor, Chairman of the High Consultative Committee for Completion of Implementation of Islamic Laws, State of Kuwait
  • “Cultural Understanding for Progress and Growth” by Madam Fatemeh Hashemi Rafasanjani, Secretary General Women Solidarity Association (WSA), Islamic Republicof Iran
  • Status of Businesswomen in Cameroon by Madam Akoa Metugu Abena Angeline, Board Member of Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Crafts of Cameroon
  • “Challenges and Opportunities for Businesswomen in South East Asia” by Dato Dr. Norraesah Mohamed, Chairperson of Businesswomen Association of Malaysia.
  • “Challenges and Opportunities for Businesswomen in the African region” by Madam Bineta Diop, Executive Director, Femmes Africa Solidarity, from Republic of Senegal.
  • “Investment in voluntary work aimed at human benefit” by Madam Fatemah Al-Bustaki, of the Union of Kuwaiti Woman Associations
  • “Experiment of the Council of UAE Businesswomen” by: H.E. Raja Easa Al Gurg, Chairperson, U.A.E Council of Businesswomen.
  • “Promoting interests of Businesswomen in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” by Aziza Al-Khateeb, SaiydahKhadijaBintKhwalidCenter, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • “Scope of empowering Women’s Network for Business Ventures in Islamic Countries” by Madam Laila Karamy, President of Lebanese Businesswomen Association, Republic of Lebanon.
  • “Women Entrepreneurs in SMEs: Realizing the benefits of Globalization and the knowledge-based economy” by Begum Salma Ahmed, National President & CEO, Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pakistan
  • Service of Small and Medium Enterprises of SMEDA (Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority of Pakistan) by Mrs. Tazeen Arsalan
  • Women Entrepreneurship in Turkey by Ms. Zeynep Bodur Okyay, Vice President of Kale Group
  • “Experience sharing of Women Entrepreneurs” byMs. Nasreen Awal Mintoo, President – Women Entrepreneurs Association of Bangladesh (WEAB) and Chairperson – SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs Council (SCWEC)

Experiences and success story of Businesswomen

  • Eng. Widad Yaqoob Ibrahim (Sudan)
  • Mrs. Tatyana Zhadnova (Kazakhstan)
  • Mrs. Thurayya Al-Orayyid, Aramco Company (Saudi Arabia)
  • Mrs. Nadia Al- Sayigh – U.A.E.
  • Mrs. Hind Abdul Jabir – HashemiteKingdom of Jordan
  • Dr. Shehla Javed Akram (Pakistan)
  • Mrs. Afitimath Bint Sayed Ahmed (Mauritania)
  • Mrs. Maha Lotfi Mahmoud Elessawi (Egypt)

The detailed papers have already been circulated and will also be published.

Mr. Farooq-uz Zaman, IDB representative highlighted the “Role of Islamic Development Bank in Women entrepreneurship Development.”He emphasized that for IDB to intervene in SMEs there must be the existence of an IDB Line of financing in the country concerned, while for micro-finance operations the office of the IDB governor of the country concerned shall request IDB for a micro-finance loan. Such micro-finance loans are extended by IDB to governments which then provides them the financing at the grass roots level to micro-finance operators under the aegis of micro-finance financial intermediaries, which are responsible for implementing and monitoring the facility.

Bilateral Contacts Meeting:

A number of bilateral and multilateral meetings were held on 2ndMarch 2005. Businesswomen from all the participating countries met with each other and the representative of the Islamic Development Bank, SMEDA, and interacted to discuss possibilities of further expanding trade ties.

Mr. Farooq-uz-Zaman, IDB representative during the bilateral meetings with businesswomen delegations from Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Togo, Yemen, Mauritania, Sudan explained the facilities of IDB for SMEs and Micro-finance, modalities of operations through NDFIs and micro-finance financial intermediaries, terms and conditions of financing and requirements under Lines and direct financing for large projects.

The representative commentedthat majority of the projectssubmitted during the Forum, were SME projects and as such needed to be considered under an IDB Line of Financing and microfinance loan for micro-enterprises. Since there are no lines of financing facilities to the concerned countries, the IDB representative suggested the sponsors to contact the office of IDB Governors for requesting IDB to extend line of SMEs financing. Where micro-financing is envisaged, the sponsors may also contact the office of IDB Governors to request IDB for micro-finance loans to the Government.

The Bank representative after reviewing the projects, gave his views on the viability of each project and informs that the Bank will revert to the sponsor for clarifications on the requirements to be met as specified in the circulated document by the Bank.

The IDB representative was of the opinion that the project sponsors are interested not only in finance but also joint venture partners, technology suppliers, markets and marketing etc. In this respect, ICCI is requested to post the project proposals in existing portals of SMEs like that of SMEDA, Pakistan and others. More importantly, ICCI may request the UAE Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry in particular and invite all the members of ICCI to identify joint venture partners for the projects submitted by the Businesswomen from Islamic Countries.

Final Report and Declaration

The two day deliberations led to in depth discussions between the representatives of the businesswomen community from 32 Islamic countries. Based on the recommendations put forward through the papers and also the recommendations received from the businesswomen themselves, the Declaration of the First Forum for Businesswomen was issued:

The representatives of the First Forum for Businesswomen in Islamic Countries, gathered in Sharjah from 1stto 3rdMarch 2005 agreed:

  1. 1. To welcome the initiative taken by the Islamic Chamber, the Federation of U.A.E. Chambers ofCommerce and Industries for holding the First Forum.
  2. 1. Noted that till date that there was no common platform for the businesswomen of the Islamic countries to meet;
  3. 1. Realizing the urgent need for the businesswomen to come together and establish a network among themselves.
  4. 1. Expressed hope that the initiative taken by the Islamic Chamber for the businesswomen of the Islamic countries would get the attention of the financial institutions and banks.
  5. 1. Emphasized the need for holding of such Forums on a regular basis;
  6. 1. In view of the important and active role being played by the Businesswomen, the Forum called upon the OIC member countries to ensure a greater representation of women entrepreneurs in the activities of the Organization and its affiliated institutions, such as the OIC Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC).
  7. 1. The Forum highlights the need for providing technical assistance to the women entrepreneurs in order to upgrade their management, marketing and packaging skills to compete in the international market. Therefore, it is called upon the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authorities to organize training programs and workshops.
  8. 1. The Forum called upon the National Chambers of Commerce and Industry in the OIC countries to provide due consideration to businesswomen associations and grant them suitable representation in the Board of Directors and provide them more opportunities and exposure through their involvement in trade fairs and trade delegations.
  9. 1. The Forum noted that lack of financing, communication and information are some of the hurdles being faced by the businesswomen to expand their business ties and hence called upon the Islamic Chamber to devise a strategy to overcome these hurdles, through the assistance of ICRIC, Islamic Development Bank and other International Organizations with which it has signed MoUs.
  10. 1. The Forum calls upon the Islamic Development Bank and the other Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions to allocate a special window for providing services for the projects of women entrepreneurs in the IDB countries.
  11. 1. It is called upon the existing businesswomen organizations in Islamic countries in the various regions, to strengthen and enhance their relations through greater connectivity and networking with the objective of benefiting from each other experiences and expertise, by ways of setting up information network.
  12. 1. The Forum also called upon the Islamic Chamber Research and Information Center (ICRIC) established within the Iran Chamber of Commerce,Industries and Mines, to contribute in preparing studies in the field of information technology for the development of business community.
  13. 1. The Forum appreciates initiatives that have been taken by a number of businesswomen institutions in the sphere of voluntary welfare services and philanthropic work and calls upon the Financial Institution to support this cause.
  14. 1. The Forum emphasizes that extra efforts need to be taken by these institutions and other NGOs in the Islamic countries to further develop such initiatives and intensify their efforts in the areas of education, health care, specially reaching out to the children and needy women of the remote rural areas by sending voluntary missions comprised of doctors as well as ladies health workers.
  15. 1. The Forum calls upon the Council, Federations, Chambers of Commerce and other business organizations as well as educational and provisional institutions in Islamic countries to involve businesswomen in training and skill development courses in order to enhance their expertise and know how in practicing economic activities.
  16. 1. The Forum took note of the success stories presented by some of the Businesswomen and proposed to learn through their experiences, in order to upgrade their businesses.
  17. 1. The Forum called upon the need to host these Forum on annual basis and in this respect, appreciated the offers received from a number of member countries and in this context, requested the Islamic Chamber to formulatea mechanism, which sets a criteria, which the member countries could meet for holding these Forums on an annual basis.
  18. 1. It called upon the Executive Committee of the Islamic Chamber to look into the possibility of establishing a body under the umbrella of the Islamic Chamber for the Businesswomen.
  19. 1. The Forum emphasizes the necessity of extending support and encouraging the setting up of SMEs for businesswomen in Islamic countries and grant them appropriate opportunities to carry out their various economic activities and coordination would be made among businesswomen organizations and women associations in the member countries to support handicrafts, traditional goods and to enhance their competitiveness in order to access foreign markets.
  20. 1. The Forum called upon on the setting up of follow-up committee based on representation of the three major regions of the OIC Group, namely Arab, African and Asian Regions, with the Islamic Chamber as its Focal Point[†].
  21. 1. The Forum called upon the Islamic Chamber to look into the possibility of nominating a representative for the Forum in each of the member countries to act as coordinator with the follow up committee.
  22. 1. The Forum recommended sending cable of thanks and appreciations to the following dignitaries:
  • H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, President of United Arab Emirates.
  • H.H. Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi, Member of the Ruling Council, Ruler of Sharjah.
  • Her Highness Shaikha Jawaher Al-Qasimi, Patron of the Forum.
  • His Excellency Tariq bin Faisal Al-Qasimi, Chairman Economic Development Department of Sharjah

For hosting of this Forum the participants extended their gratitude and appreciation to the Federation of U.A.E. Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, U.A.E. Businesswomen Council, Sharjah Businesswomen Council for their hospitality and thanks to the media for their coverage for the said Forum.

Afterwards, Secretary General Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry awarded shields to the speakers for their valuable input to the Forum.

During the Forum two MoUs were also singed between the Lebanese Businesswomen Association and the UAE BusinesswomenCouncil, and the second between the Sudanese Businesswomen Union and UAE BusinesswomenCouncil for strengthening cooperation in the areas of mutual interests.

The Heads of the delegations paid a courtesy visit on Her Highness Shaikha Jawaher Al-Qasimi’s. During the meeting Her Highness was briefed about the purpose and the outcome of the meeting and was presented with the shield by the representative of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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[*] Speech was added during the Inaugural Session

[†]A number of participants came forth to be members of the follow-up Committee. The Secretary General of Islamic Chamber clarified that all members would bear their own expenses while attending the follow up meetings. The General Secretariat of Islamic Chamber will contact with a number of institutions to activate this Committee.