The Hope Makers: Delivering Change through Being Good, Doing Good G100 – UAE, Dubai Meetings, 21 – 25 January 2022
The globally centred, dynamic United Arab Emirates welcomed the G100 last week. Dubai, as host of the spectacular Expo 2020 is a city of epic vision, effective infrastructure, and has an effervescent economic energy. Immersed in the splendid vistas and scintillating buzz of the city, the G100 global leaders reached out to those in need and advocated for the building of a more inclusive future for all.
The agenda of the UAE meetings was to seek guidance on the way forward towards meaningfully work in shared spirit and the cause of gender equality this decade, in accordance with 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), of which gender equality is a part as SDG 5.
Our meetings began by engagement with leading Emirati business group engaged in philanthropy. It was heartwarming to see their focus on gender equality along with climate and environment, and we agreed on next steps of cooperation.
Given the international activities happening during the Expo, we also had to opportunity to meet the delegation of businesswomen coming from Serbia and the Hon’ble Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Affairs who invited and welcomed us to Serbia, which we gladly accepted.
It was followed by an evening of leisurely exchange: of learnings, business cards, sisterhood bands, gestures of gifts from our cultures that each one had thoughtfully carried in our travels. At this meet and greet, we were also excited to welcome one Denim Club partner. His presence and commitment to join us was a great boost to our morale and efforts to engage the men for positive gender balance in all walks of life.
The following day was spent mostly with one on one meetings amongst the delegation members whilst walks on the beach, enabling deeper connections and stronger bonds.
The UNDP Afghanistan meeting was an eye opener. But for different reasons and with a very refreshing vision offered by a most dynamic businesswoman and young leader who told us and taught us not to pity or judge the people of Afghanistan, but instead to extend their support and strength to them; and to not isolate or alienate 40 million people but to care even more for them with actions and outreach in mutual respect, equality and dignity (these themes came up frequently as a worthy reminder to our shared humanity and oneness). We were deeply moved and invited Nilofar to lead the sector of Development Finance at the G100 so we could together build strength for her vision and efforts.
Of course, there was the essential visit to Expo2020 and especially to the UN Hub, Women’s Pavilion, and SloveniaPavilion in honour of G100 Global Chair for Ecocivilisation, H.E. Violeta Bulc, former Deputy Prime Minister of Slovenia who was part of the delegation.
The meetings on Monday packed in great inspiration as we met Forbes listed and eminent businesswoman Dr. Raja Al Gurg, Managing Director of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group (ESAG), as also other leading businesswomen in sectors such as Construction, Manufacturing, Hospitality among others at the Dubai Business Women Council. We also discussed mentoring partnership with NAMA and Sharjah Business Women Council. We concluded the day with another meet and greet with local leaders, and a birthday celebration!
The final day of the meetings was soul stirring. We met Mr. Al Falasi, awarded as the Arab Hope Maker by the Crown Prince, who shared with us that service is not just about giving money or things; it must be shared with with community with a humble and sincere spirit. ‘Free’ should also not mean sub standard in quality or commitment. We must strive for the same standards of excellence in philanthropy as in business or life. Setting up hospitals or giving free medical machines or vaccinations, as his foundation delivers in the remotest parts of the world, should be done not in arrogance or superiority by a humble realisation of our equality and shared humanity, with respect for dignity of all.
The words of Al Falasi were witnessed first hand during the G100 visit to the Rashid Centre of People of Determination. People of Determination is an inclusive phrase adopted by people of UAE to refer to those with special needs. The tour of the extraordinary facilities was presented by the most inspiring leader Ms. Mariam Othman, Director of the Centre where the visitors learned about the commitment of global donors and also offered their support in connecting the Centre to additional companies within the G100 network whose CSR endeavours promoted persons of determination.
With every passing meeting, we moved deeper into our hearts to embrace the ‘other’ through the bridge of kinship, empathy, listening, learning, connecting and equalising as human beings, and remembering that we are all here to help and support each other, in truth, trust and togetherness.
The warm welcome and generous hospitality remains deeply etched within. These were actions that spoke louder than all words – that we are all one, that no matter where we came from, what language we spoke, what faith we practiced, all that mattered was mutual respect and remembrance of our shared humanity in peace and purpose.
Convenor & Navigator: We are most grateful to our eminent Soul Sister Yasmina Azhari, G100 Global Chair – Public Relations, for her tireless support in preparation and organisation of this meetings. With her great goodwill and powerful network, we connected to the most influential leaders in the region.
1. Dr. Harbeen Arora. Founder & President 2. Karen Duys. Global Chair – Education 3. Dr. Sanja Popović Pantic. Global Chair – MSMEs 4. H.E. Violeta Bulc. Global Chair – Ecocivilisation 5. Beena Unnikrishnan. Global Chair – Arts Leadership 6. Baiba Rubesa. Global Chair – Diversity on Boards 7. Marguerite Soeteman -Reijnen. Global Chair – Corporate Governance 8. Chantal Yelu Mulop. Global Chair – Human Rights 9. Dr. Patience Mpofu. Global Chair – Sustainable Mining ESG 10. Batool Dadabhai. Global Chair – Fashion & Textiles
11 am: Business Group Meeting Via video With Mr Mohamad Agha, who works closely with Mr Badr Jafar on a number of initiatives, and Ms Jahan Rifai. (Badr Jafar is an Emirati businessperson, philanthropist and diplomatic advocate. He is the CEO of Crescent Enterprises, a global business conglomerate with operations in ports and logistics, power and engineering. A later follow up meeting in March is also scheduled with his Mr. Jafar’s spouse and eminent leader Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, the Managing Director of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund as well as the current president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature).
12noon: Expo Meeting with H.E. Dr. Darija Kisic Tepavcevic, Minister of Labor, Employment, Social Affairs, Serbia Along with Branislava Simanic, Director, Entrepreneurship, Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Serbia And Farida Al Awadi, Emirati Business Women Council
4pm – 7pm Meet & Greet with Serbian Women Entrepreneurs Delegation led by G100 Global Chair – MSMEs, Dr. Sanja Popović Pantic, Serbia – comprising entrepreneurs from diversified sectors including health tourism, internatinal railway transport, wellness and wellbeing, education, law investment, and consultancy. Along with Country Chairs, and Denim Partner for Public Relations wing led by Global Chair Yasmina Azhari, Mr. Hussain Kazerooni from Bahrain.
22 Jan 10am onwards One on one meetings among delegation members
11am: UNDP Afghanistan meeting regarding their project for empowering women in Afghanistan; with
Nilofar Ghazanfar, Projects Coordinator, Ghazanfar Group. Born to a family who has been running a business in Afghanistan for over 100 years, Ms. Ghazanfar grew up exposed to the economic challenges and accomplishments of the Afghan business community. Ms. Ghazanfar’s role in the company is the coordination of financiers, government entities, investors and internal group entities in the development and management of the Group’s large infrastructure projects including the first privately financed 50 MW gas power plant and 1 million per annum production capacity cement plant in the country. Born in 1996, Ms. Ghazanfar graduated with honors from South Oriental and African School of Studies from University of London with a BA in Politics and International Relations in 2018. Ms. Ghazanfar has been an active part of the company since early adult years.
Along with: Fawaz Sabri, UNDP Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Finance Expert Ph D in Monetary Economics from University of Paris I La Sorbonne, in Paris and Master’s Degree in International Finance and Monetary Economics from University of Paris IX Dauphine, in Paris. Development emergency finance expert in conflict settings, MSME finance especially women owned enterprises, analysis and support to the banking and finance sector in sanction restricted contexts. Working with donor funded grants to leverage diverse resources in complex situation. Expert in local community finance and resilience. Experienced leader in financing Sustainable Development Goals’ oriented Investments and Projects within UN agencies and private sector that include Energy and Water Projects, Renewable Energy, Impact Investment etc. Versatile and accomplished Senior Executive Management professional experience with over 32 years’ experience in the areas of Project and Corporate Finance. Held senior positions in various financial and investment sectors in the Middle East and Europe. Outstanding track record in leading Company’s’ Transformation through Private Placement and IPO’s. Rich exposure to Islamic Shari’a Compliance Finance.
12 noon onwards: Visit to Expo UN Hub Women’s Pavilion Slovenia Pavilion
8am: Chamber meeting With NAMA and Sharjah Business Women Council Nama Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA) was founded in 2015 by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the UAE Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and is chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah. with: Mariam Bin Al Shaikh, Acting Manager of Sharjah Business Women Council Lawratou Bah, Assistant Manager of Programs, NAMA Women Advancement Establishment Haya Merai, Senior Executive of Business Development, NAMA Women Advancement Establishment Nada Tarek, Communications, Sharjah Business Women Council
10am: Forbes businesswomen and Chamber meeting at Dubai Business Women Council with Dr. Raja Easa Al Gurg, Managing Director of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group (ESAG), is a well-known businesswoman in the region. She is the President of Dubai Business Women Council; Board member of the Dubai Chamber Of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) and Dubai Women’s Association. She is also on the Board of Trustees for the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives – one of the largest development and community foundations in the Middle East.
4pm – 7pm Meet & Greet with UAE-India business council of Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WICCI), and other women leaders.
9am: Philanthropist Meeting with Ahmed Al Falasi. Emirati businessman and philanthropist. His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Crown Prince of Dubai, awarded Ahmed Al Falasi as the Arab Hope Maker 2020.
11am: Meeting with People of Determination Hosted by Mariam Othman, Director, The Rashid Paediatric Therapy Centre (RPTC), at the Rashid Centre for The People of Determination Along with Brunch meeting with women leaders and supporters of the center.
“It was remarkable to meet women and men of vision and action. It was a deeply inspiring and important visit that strengthened our commitment ever more, encouraging us to embrace bolder and bigger roles on our path.” – Dr. Harbeen Arora
“The gathering of many G100 Global Chairs together with some Country Chairs from different countries in a Mosaic beautiful city as Dubai: gave this trip a special flavor. We met important organizations and people, and despite the difference in cultures: the only cause of women empowerment and gender equality unified us and made all our meetings a real story of success. We enjoyed all our fruitful meetings, promoted for G100 and elucidated its vision and mission which was welcomed and supported by all parties.” – Yasmina Azhari
“For me on this trip in Dubai this quote in the most impressive womens pavilion (at Expo) says it all! “When Women Thrive, Humanity Thrives!” – Baiba Rubesa
“#G100 Meeting in Dubai proved one more time how important personal gatherings are for connecting, inspiring each other and for setting new commitments. But it re-confirmed also the visionary mission of the #G100 movement for the well-being of the World. Gender equality, equal opportunities, mutual respect and making sure that society is present at the decision-making table as well, are important elements of sustainable life. “Where women thrive, societies thrive” is written at the entry of the Women’s pavilion at EXPODubai2021. #G100 is committed to deliver on that, I am ready, are you?” – Violeta Bulc