Report of the
Fourth Forum for Businesswomen in Islamic Countries
Under the kind patronage of First Lady Her Excellency ASMA al-ASSAD
Under the theme of
“Role of Culture, Media and Tourism in developing sustainable economic prosperity”
2 – 4 November 2008– Le Meridian Hotel, SyrianArabRepublic
In response to the recommendation of the Third Forum for Businesswomen in Islamic countries held in Doha, State of Qatar from January 13-15, 2008, and on the invitation of the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Commerce and Syrian Businesswomen Committee of Damascus Chamber of Commerce, the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized the Fourth Forum for Businesswomen in Islamic Countries in Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic on November 2-4, 2008, corresponding to 4-6 Dul Qida 1429h, under kind patronage of First Lady H.E Asmaa al-Assad, wife of H.E. Bashar al-Assad, President of the Syrian Arab Republic. This Forum was organized with the collaboration of Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, United Nations Development Programme, (SU/SSC-UNDP). The theme of the Forum was “Role of Culture, Media and Tourism in developing sustainable economic prosperity.”
The Forum was attended by over 300 delegates representing 40 OIC Member Countries and International Organizations, including the Islamic Development Bank (IDB); the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); International Organization for Sustainable Development (IOSD) and Foundation for Mediterranean Cooperation, (list of participants attached).
The Forum was inaugurated on Sunday, November 3, 2008, at Le Meridien Hotel, with the recitation from the Holy Quran, followed by the following statements:
- H.E. Dr. Rateb Shallah, President Federation of Syrian Chambers of Commerce, welcomed the participants and expressed his pride in organizing it in collaboration with the Islamic Chamber, Islamic Development Bank, UNDP, Damascus Chamber of Commerce and Syrian Businesswomen Committee. He thanked on behalf of the Board of Directors and the Members of the QBA, all the participants of the Forum who came from abroad to contribute in developing the knowledge and culture about the activities of the businesswomen in Islamic Countries. He further added that the convening of a global forum that gathers distinguished personalities and prominent businesswomen from Arab and Islamic Countries is mainly aimed at enhancing and supporting women participation in the business community and encourages women projects and initiatives that reflect the economic progress of Arab and Islamic World. On the other hand the Forum would focus in projecting contributions and challenges of the businesswomen in terms of providing appropriate financing resources for their pioneering projects and identifying the needs and requirements of the businesswomen who came to Qatar to share their experiences and views with their counterparts.
- Introductory Address and message of H.E. Shaikh Saleh Bin Abdullah Kamel, President of Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry was delivered by Mrs. Attiya Nawazish Ali, Assistant Secretary Generalfor Coordination. In her address, she stated that …..
- Madam Sonia Khandji Cachecho in her words of welcome …..
- The message of His Excellency Professor Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General, Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), was read out by Ms. Maha Mustapha Akeel, Managing Editor of the OIC Journal. In the message, H.E. …….
- The message of Mr. Yiping Zhou, Director Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SU/SSC) was read out by Dr. John Kakonge, Senior Deputy Director. In his message,.
- The message of H.E. Dr. Ahmed Mohammad Ali, President of Islamic Development Bank (IDB) was ready out by Dr. Nujafi, Head of NGOs& WID Unit. In his message..
- Representative of Her Excellency Mrs. Asma al-Assad, H.E. Dr. Diala al-Haj Aref, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Syrian Arab Republic…..expressed her strong confidence that the areas of economic, commercial and developmental cooperation between Islamic countries are quite vast and the businesswomen have a great role to play in these areas to make maximum benefit. H.E. said that the Forum would come up with recommendations that reflect the significant role of businesswomen in accelerating the pace of economic development of the Islamic Countries. He thanked HRH Sheikha Mozah Nasser Al-Missned, the wife of HRH Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifah Al-Thani, The Emir of State of Qatar, for her patronage of this Forum. Further, he thanked and welcomed all the participants wishing them pleasant stay in Qatar. He also thanked QBA, ICCI, UNDP and IDB and staff of the Ministry of Economy and Trade for their efforts in organizing this Forum.
The inaugural session was also attended by ……..
The Forum elected the following office bearers:
• Chairperson – Madam Sonia Khandji Cachecho
• Vice Chairperson – Ms. Attiya Nawazish Ali
• Rapporteur – Mr. Syed Shahid Husain
Afterwards, a drafting committee was set up which comprised of the following:
• Dr. Syed Azhar Ibne Hasan
PRESENTATION OF PAPERS:
In nine sessions, the participants presented papers describing the role and issues being faced by businesswomen in the Islamic countries, with recommendations and proposals, for the possible solutions. Each session concluded with discussions, and question and answers.
The 1stInteractive Dialogue Sessionon the theme of “Role of Culture in the development of sustainable economic prosperity” was chaired by Dr. Hannan Kassab Hasan, Secretary General of Damascus Arab Capital of Culture 2008. In her brief remarks she…….. Following participants also made brief remarks:
- Hon. Mrs. Syda Bbumba, Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Republic of Uganda
- Ms. Alaa Al-Dulaimy, Assistant Secretary General, Media, ICCI“Role of Islamic Chamber in the socio-economic empowerment of Women through Media”
- Mrs. Fatemeh Hashemi Rafsanjani,General Secretary, Womens’ Solidarity Association of Iran
- ……., representative of the Sudanese Businesswomen Committee
- Mrs. Joumana Sukkar “Revival of Syrian Heritage”SyrianArabRepublic
The 2nd Interactive Dialogue Sessionon the theme of “Role of Media in development of sustainable economic prosperity” was chaired by Ms. Qatrina Hossain, Senior Journalist from Pakistan. In her brief remarks she…….. Following participants also made brief remarks:
- Mrs. Gaukhar Baigarinova “Role of Women in Media, Tourism and Cultural sector in Kazakhstan”, Kazakhstan
- Mrs. Hiyam Hamawi,“Role of Media in promotion of Culture”SyrianArabRepublic
- Mrs. Hala Khasawneh,“Women in Media, Information & Communication Technology”,Jordan
- Mrs. Soheila Jelodarzadeh, Islamic Republic of Iran
- Mrs. Rokia Afzal Rahman,President, Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs,“Role of Women in Culture, Media and Tourism in Developing Sustainable Economic Prosperity”, Bangladesh
The 3rd Interactive Dialogue Sessionon the theme of “Role of Tourism in development of sustainable economic prosperity” was chaired by Dr. Mohammad Al-Nujaifi, The Head, NGOs&WID Unit, Islamic Development Bank (IDB). In his brief remarks he…….. Following participants also made brief remarks:
- Madam Leila Karami, President, Lebanese Business Women Association, “Role of Economic Culture in Field Business”,Lebanon
- Dr. Hoda Galal Yassa, President, Arab Women Investors Union, Egypt
The 4th Interactive Dialogue Sessionon the theme of “Role of Businesswomen in the economic development of OIC countries…” was chaired by Begum Salma Ahmed. In her brief remarks she…….. Following participants also made brief remarks:
- Dr. Grace Christopher Ekpenyong, “Exploring Business Opportunities and Role of Businesswomen in Nigeria”,Nigeria
- Ms. Aisha Juma Alrasasi, Member of Executive Committee, Sharjah Businesswomen Council,United Arab Emirates
- Mrs. Apasova Rimma,Head of Department of Foreign Economic Relations of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of KyrgyzRepublic
- Mrs. Gazieva Sayyora, Tajikistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- Mrs. CHERIF Toure Nabintou, on “Role of the woman in media, tourism, culture sector in Cote d’Ivoire”
The 5th Interactive Dialogue Sessionon the theme of “Development of Creative businesses and resources and its role in developing sustainable economic prosperity” was chaired by Mr. Shahid Hussain, Special Advisor, Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, UNDP. In her brief remarks she…….. Following participants also made brief remarks:
- Mrs. Cavidan Demirag, President of Association of Enterprising Businesswomen (GISKAD) Turkey
- Ms. Sonia Ben M’rad “Tunisian Tourism”
- Mrs. Myassa Harrouil “Role of Fine Art in development of tourism and culture”SyrianArabRepublic
- Ms. Aisha Juma, Member Executive Committee, Sharjah Businesswomen Council, U.A.E on “Role of Sharjah Businesswomen Council and Activities, contribution in the field of culture, media and tourism”
- Mrs. Akbagysheva Zamira,President, Congress of Women, KyrgyzRepublic on“Role of Tourism in the Development of Sustainable Economic Prosperity”
- Ms. Luydmila Popova, Azerbaijan
The 6th Interactive Dialogue Sessionon the theme of “Role of Businesswomen Institutions in Islamic Countries” was chaired by Madam Sonia Kandji Cachecho, President, Syrian Businesswomen Committee (DCC). In her brief remarks she…….. Following participants also made brief remarks:
- Mrs. Demet Sabanci, President, Turkish Businesswomen Association (TIKAD)
- Mrs. Dalia M.M. Hussein, Palestine
- Mrs. Aneela Iftikhar, President, North Punjab Women Chamber of Commerce, Pakistan
- Mrs. Asmaa El Dirawi, Lebanon
- Mrs. Awahou Codjo ALABI, General Manager, Awa Fish, Benin
The 7th Interactive Dialogue Sessionon the theme of “Institutional Support to the Businesswomen Associations” was chaired by Dr. Saadalla Agha Al Kalaa, Minister of Tourism, SyrianArabRepublic. Addressing the participants …….. Following participants also made brief remarks:
- Mr. Shahid Hussain, Special Advisor, Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, UNDP
- Mr. Ehsan Diljore, Investment Manager, Investment Operations Dept, Islamic Corp. for the Dev. of the Private Sector (ICD), IDB
- Mrs. Maya Maamarbachi, “Importance of good Touristic Investment and their role in the economic development”, SyrianArabRepublic
- Mr. Syed Zahid Ali, Secretary General, International Organization for Sustainable Development (IOSD)
- Mrs. Vicky Pantazopoulou, Alternate President, Foundation for Mediterranean Cooperation “How women could contribute in the development of eco-friendly tourism in OIC Countries”, Greece
The 8th Interactive Dialogue Sessionon the theme of “Role of Businesswomen Institutions in Islamic Countries” was chaired by Mrs. Rokia Afzal Rahman,President, Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs. Chairing the session she …….. Following participants also made brief remarks:
- Mrs. Rabha Safadi, Board Member, Jordan Forum for Business and Professional Women“Jordanian Women Experience in Businesses”
- Dr. Rana Raddawi, Assistant Professor American University of Sharjah, UAE
- Dr. Haifa Sirajudding, representative of the Syrian Businesswomen Committee
- Madam Widad Yaqoob, President, Sudanese Businesswomen Committee, Sudan
All the sessionswere highly interactive,all the Honorable speakers presented papers describing the role and issues being faced by businesswomen in the Islamic countries, with recommendations and proposals, for their possible solutions. Participants of the Forum took active part in the sessions and exchange their views with the speakers.
The Forum encouraged and stimulated in-depth discussions among all the participants. Based upon the presentations and views expressed, it adopted the following Communiqué:
We the delegates of the Fourth Forum for Businesswomen in Islamic Countries gathered in Damascus, SyrianArabRepublic:
- GREATLY APPRECIATEto the First Lady H.E Asmaa al-Assad, wife of H.E. Bashar al-Assad, President of the SyrianArabRepublic for her kind patronage of the Fourth Forum of Businesswomen.
- CONVEYEDsincere thanks to the Government and people of SyrianArabRepublic for the traditional hospitalityextended to all the participants.
- RECOGNIZE the efforts of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, UNDP, in organizing the Fourth Businesswomen Forum on the theme of “Role of Culture, Media and Tourism in developing sustainable economic prosperity”.Appreciating the theme as not only timely but also in line with fact that the Damascus being nominated as the Capital of the Arab Culture for 2008.
- RECOGNIZEthe rich traditional heritage, especially in history, art, drama, literature and poetry found in almost all OIC Countries.
- ACKNOWLEDGE the progress attained towards networking among businesswomen of Islamic Countries through the establishment of a database mechanism by the Islamic Chamber in collaboration with IDB and UNDP and further call for making the web portal broader based.
- IDENTIFYfinancing as a continued constraint in implementation of projects.
- URGE the OIC Governments to review rules and regulations governing the tourism and entertainment industries by making them more consumers friendly and attractive for investment purposes.
- IDENTIFYimpediments to some of tourist sites, call uponfor the development of infrastructure including road, rail, and other forms of transport.
- TAKE NOTE on the increased role of women in framing policies and program in OIC Institutions.
- HIGHLIGHT the role of art and culture in enhancing social standards and promoting creative economies recommend for better understanding and usage of art and artifacts should be fostered through education and organization of exhibition and art fairs both at national and international levels.
1. CALL UPON the Islamic Chamber and its affiliated companies namely: FORAS Investment, to set up projects by the businesswomen in the area of Media and Tourism.
2. ENCOURAGE Businesswomen to join the membership of the Business Owners Union and to utilize its services.
3. ENCOURAGE businesswomen’s enterprises in OIC Countries and Muslim Communities in non-OIC Member Countries, to actively participate in the OIC-Businesswomen Information Network (oic-bin) by contributing information to its database, and accessing information from it, for exploring business opportunities.
4. CALL UPON the Islamic Chamber and Businesswomen Association for maintaining close connections with print and electronic media and for projectionof social and creative assets of the OIC Countries and associating with plans for the development of historical sites.
5. COMMEND the activities undertaken by the Islamic Chamber under OIC Program of Action for the empowerment of businesswomenand call uponto further strengthen these initiatives, so as to enable the Forum sustain its activities & program and Institutionalize its entity.
6. WELCOME the project of ICCICompany on promotion of Tourism, Fair Vision and DataBank of OIC Businesswomen and called upon the businesswomen to actively participate in these projects in order to fully utilize their services.
7. CALL UPON the General Secretariat of ICCI to transmit this Communiqué to relevant foras of OIC, and of the United Nations.
8. EXPRESS the hope that national financial Institutions in OIC Member States will collaborate with the Islamic Development Bank in formulating an effective mechanism within a well planned time frame for increasingly accessing credit facilities to women entrepreneurs in OIC Member Countries.
9. CALL UPONIDB to make its financing windows more accessible to the businesswomen and recommend the effective utilization of the IDB Solidarity Fund for Poverty Alleviation in supporting women’s enterprises in OIC Countries
10. CALL UPONfor the establishment of a Family Bank for promoting family welfare, including youth employment, in Syria, on the lines of the Sudanese experience.
11. CALL UPON the OIC, its institutions, the United Nations agencies, its funds programs and agencies, and Member Chambers of Commerce and Industry to continue their collaboration with the Islamic Chamber of Commerce & Industry in organizing future Forums, Workshops and Training Programs for Businesswomen.
12. EMPHASIZE on concerted effort should be made to associate competent women with the governance and management of these institutions so that the OIC may keep pace with positive developments in other international organizations.
13. CALL UPON the OIC and its institutions for transforming the rich traditional heritage, especially in history, art, drama, literature and poetry into income generating activity.
14. APPRECIATE the kind invitations of Bangladesh, Egypt, Lebanon, Kazakhstan and Sudanto host the next Forum and endorsedthe offer of Egypt to host the Fifth Forum for Businesswomen in Islamic countries in Egypt in 2009.
15. EXPRESS gratitude to the Islamic Chamber; Islamic Development Bank (IDB); Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, UNDP; Federation of Syrian Chambers of Commerce; and Syrian Businesswomen Committee of Damascus Chamber of Commerce for their truly stalwart roles in organizing the work of the Fourth Forum and steering it so competently towards its successful conclusion.
End of the Communiqué.
The closing session was ………..
The Organizing Committee of the Forum presented Awards to the “Most Outstanding Businesswomen” to: Mrs. Aneela Iftikhar of Pakistan; Mrs. Aisha of United Arab Emirates; and Mrs. Awa of Benin. The selection was made on the basis of performance and contributions to the socio-economic development of the respective countries.
On November 3, 2008, all the delegates were invited by the First Lady H.E. Asmaa al-Assad, wife of H.E. Bashar al-Assad, President of the Syrian Arab Republic at her Palace………
The Forum also led to an agreement of understanding between the Syrian authorities and the IOSD to set up an institute of tourism.
During the Forum speakers highlighted the role of women to attain sustainable economic prosperity and their contribution in media, culture and tourism.
The papers presented during the Forum identified several constraints and proposed possible solutions. During the Forum the participants networked among themselves, exchanged experiences and know-how in the establishment and operation of businesses; and in identifying new markets, thereby expanding contacts and business ties amongst their enterprises. The IDB deliberated on its products and possible windows of financing projects for women entrepreneurs.
Concurrently with the Forum, an Exhibition was also held exhibiting products from Syria and other OIC Countries. The products were mainly produced by businesswomen such as textile, foodstuff, readymade garments, cosmetics, jewellery and pharmaceuticals. All those who invited the exhibition were impressed with the quality of products and the high standard of presentation.
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As part of the program of the Forum, all the delegates were taken on a courtesy call on First Lady H.E Asmaa al-Assad, wife of H.E. Bashar al-Assad, President of the SyrianArabRepublic at the Presidential Palace on 2nd November 2008. H.E Asmaa al-Assad extended warm welcome and hospitality to the delegates and exchange with their views on matters of mutual concern.