Sara Akbar, CEO, Kuwait Energy Company delivers a speech.
Sara Akbar, CEO, Kuwait Energy Company delivers a speech.

KUWAIT: Following on from the success of the Young Arab Women Leaders: The Voice of the Future conferences in Amman, Beirut and Dubai in 2012, Palestine in 2013, London in 2011 and 2014, and Doha in 2015, the Arab International Women’s Forum was proud to hold its first ever Young Arab Women Leaders Conference in Kuwait on Thursday 20 October 2016, with the valued support of the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs, in continued partnership with AIWF Global Partner and YAWL Conference Partner PwC, and with the support of local partner Ibtkar Strategic Consulting.

Close to 200 delegates from no less than 15 countries from the Arab world and internationally attended this highly successful conference, the 8th event in this series designed by AIWF in cooperation with PwC to nurture the next generation of young women entrepreneurs, helping to empower them as they aspire to leadership roles in business and in public life.

Guest speakers
The 8th Young Arab Women Leaders Conference was addressed by Guest of Honor Sheikha Al-Zain S Al-Sabah, Undersecretary of the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs of Kuwait, and Haifa Fahoum Al-Kaylani, Founder and Chairman of AIWF. Guest speakers included Fouad Douglas, Country Senior Partner PwC; Dr Lina Abirafeh, Director, Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW), Lebanese American University, Lebanon; Dr Alanoud Al-Sharekh, AIWF Board Member and Consulting Partner, Ibtkar Strategic Consultancy, Kuwait; Shamael Al-Sharikh, Team Leader Corporate Communications, Kuwait Petroleum International, Kuwait; Sara Akbar, CEO, Kuwait Energy Company, Kuwait; Diana Al Dajani, Founder and CEO, eduTechnoz, Qatar; Hussa Al-Humaidhi, Co-Founder, Nuqat, Kuwait; Mona Almoayyed, AIWF Board Member and Managing Director, YK Almoayyed and Sons, Bahrain; Rana Al-Nibari, Chief Executive Officer, INJAZ Kuwait; Taibah Al-Qatami, Founder and Director, Weoritu, Kuwait; Hanan Al-Samari, Executive Director, Princess Madawi Fund for Women Development, Saudi Arabia; Hadeel Al-Shammari, Board Member, Kuwait National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Kuwait; Sheikha Alanoud Hamad Al Thani, Qatar Country Operations Manager, Silatech, Qatar; Dr Yasmin Al-Tawaijri, Senior Scientist and Head of Epidemiology Research, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Saudi Arabia; Chadia El-Meouchi, Managing Partner, Badri and Salim El-Meouchi Law Firm, Lebanon; Noha Hefny, Director of Corporate Affairs, PepsiCo, UAE; Chantal Khoueiry, Chief Culture Officer, Value Retail, Europe and China, UK; and Huda Radhi, Director, Daskalides Bahrain, Bahrain. All conference sessions were kindly moderated by Rania Rizk, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, PepsiCo AMEA, UAE.

Distinguished guest speakers explored opportunities for collaboration between Kuwait and the international business community; widening the role of women business leaders; exploring the challenges, prospects and success stories for women doing business in the MENA region; how to take full advantage of the unprecedented opportunities arising from technology and cross-border commerce; and the role of social media in Arab entrepreneurship in promoting and mainstreaming the successes and challenges of Arab women entrepreneurs. The agenda and format of the Young Arab Women Leaders Conference were highly interactive and discussion-based, with valuable experiences shared and key recommendations made by panelists in every session that AIWF shall follow up on in future programs and initiatives in collaboration with AIWF Global Partners.

High rank
In her opening remarks, Haifa Fahoum Al-Kaylani, AIWF Founder Chairman said, “Kuwait is largely considered to be one of the region’s top countries for working women, with the highest ranking of all Arab countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2014 and 2015 Global Gender Gap Reports. Kuwaiti women have long been prominent in business and there are many successful, motivated, talented and truly inspirational businesswomen in the country from whom the next generation of Kuwaiti women leaders can draw valuable inspiration and insight. The Government, through specialized departments and initiatives, plays a leading role in facilitating training and incentives for young women to continue with their education, enter or remain in the labor market and reach their leadership potential. We are indeed proud to open this conference today with the valued support of Kuwait’s leading advocate and incubator for youth development, the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs, whose involvement and endorsement of youth-led initiatives has provided a critical platform for the emergence of a vibrant entrepreneurial and private enterprise-led economy in Kuwait.”

Dr Alanoud Alsharekh, Consulting Partner for AIWF Local Conference Partner Ibtkar Strategic Consultancy, said of the event, “Ibtkar Strategic Consultancy prides itself on being a value added partner to NGOs and local initiatives that highlight women’s contribution to their communities. We believe in AIWF’s mission to showcase the best in Arab female leadership, and were delighted to be part of the 8th edition of the Young Arab Women Leaders: Voices of the Future initiative.”

The 8th Young Arab Women Leaders conference in Kuwait was held at the Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel and AIWF was proud to welcome on this special occasion AIWF Global Partners including PepsiCo, PwC, Shell, The Sharjah Business Women Council, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson, Vistra Services and Memac Ogilvy. The Conference Program concluded on the evening of 20 October with an Official Gala Dinner that brought together AIWF Board, Distinguished Guest Speakers, Guest Delegates and Partners. The 9th Young Arab Women Leaders Conference will be announced by AIWF in the near future, as part of the AIWF 2017 Annual Program.