Along with increasing education, improving technology is also playing a big role in encouraging women to work, stated Al-Halabi.
“IT has been a big boon. Massive improvement in technology and communication has helped women network and connect better. While cultural reasons don’t permit them to travel much, now they have the option of video conferencing or conducting Skype calls.
“Also, since the UAE itself has become a business hub, many meetings happen in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, which removes the necessity of travelling abroad,” he said.
The country has also moved towards becoming a service-oriented industry, enabling women to operate in sectors where they tend to be more comfortable such as finance, marketing and retail, Al-Halabi added.
But Al Gurg states that with greater awareness and knowledge, women have now branched out into diverse fields including engineering, science, healthcare, media, and the oil industry.
“Work is increasingly being seen not merely as a source of income but as part of establishing a personal as well as professional identity,” she said.
These days, most women also receive family support and gain respect in the community as they take on career roles, Al Gurg added.
Al-Halabi agrees. “Thanks to the socially cohesive structure in the UAE, we tend to find that family members support the traditional role of women in the family. So children tend to get raised by grandparents, allowing a woman to have a career as well.”
But acceptance and change in society are gradual, he admits.
And unlike the West, where women have been empowered through laws that discourage discrimination, this region has no regulations or quotas.
“We don’t have such rules or laws here that force companies to hire females or promote them. But when you start to make quotas– yes, you will fill the positions. But will you fill it with the right people?
“In our region, because women are naturally going up the ranks, the acceptance would be deeper than the West,” he said.
“This natural evolution towards female leadership in the workplace is going to have profound impact on our GDP in the future,” Al Halabi added.