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The Difficulties of Female Entrepreneurs in the UAE Essay

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Updated: Apr 6th, 2020



Entrepreneurs, regardless of their inherent location or gender, share similar problems in relation to properly accessing sufficient capital to start their business, developing a sufficient cash flow to sustain their venture and a variety of other distinctions that are connected to the process of developing a business.

With the development of new internal policies within the UAE comes an era where women have become more empowered, both in the workforce and in entrepreneurship. This is evidenced by the fact that nearly 54% of all university graduates within the UAE are women and that a growing percentage of them focus on furthering their own careers and the development of their family business or their own business [1].

This is not to imply that women themselves cannot be entrepreneurs within the country, far from it: women are actually actively encouraged to take part in business and several have become successful entrepreneurs. However, there is some empirical evidence indicating that women are not actively involved in entrepreneurial activities.

For instance, one can speak about a low rate of female entrepreneurship since only 3 out of 10 businesses started by women [2], [3]. It is possible to examine the situation in other countries, for example, one can mention that in Russia, 44 percent of entrepreneurs are represented by women [4].

Overall, the increasing number of female entrepreneurs is a trend that has been observed over the last two decades, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Similarly, it is possible mention such a country as Thailand where the populations of male and female entrepreneurs are relatively equal [5]. This tendency has been prevalent since 2002 [5].

To some extent, this phenomenon can be explained by the growing economic development of this country and the absence of legal barriers to entrepreneurship. Thus, the level of female entrepreneurship in the UAE is lower in comparison with other states.

Therefore, it is possible to conjecture that there are some barriers that prevent women for pursuing entrepreneurial career. These restrictions come in the form of: women needing permission from a male to start a business insufficient support from the government, lack of collaboration with other women.

In this research what will be analyzed are the inherent difficulties experienced by female entrepreneurs within the UAE from 10 year back to now. It is expected that through the various facts and arguments presented in this research, a clearer picture can be developed regarding what difficulties female entrepreneurs experience within the UAE and what processes have been put in place by the government in order to address such issues.

It is expected that through proper investigation and analysis, this research will create effective suggestions as to how female entrepreneurs within the region can best respond to the financial opportunities and challenges they are currently experiencing.

Problem Definition

Ten years ago, female entrepreneurs within the UAE suffered from a string of limiting factors that prevented their expansive growth. This came in the form of traditional cultural practices, insufficient government support and lack of proper access to financial institutions [6]. Since these factors were in place ten years ago, this research will thus seek to determine whether these problems continue to exist at the present, how female entrepreneurs view such problems and what solutions may be needed in order to effectively address them.

It is based on this discovery that in the following section an investigation will be conducted regarding the current perception of female entrepreneurs involving the problems they face and what possible means of addressing them could be developed. It is possible to hypnotize that the current policy system within the region suffers from significant gender specific biases.

This creates barriers towards the creation of a better business environment for female entrepreneurs. What is necessary is the development of better policy initiatives in not only removing gender barriers in entrepreneurial activity but also in developing the necessary networks for female entrepreneurs to thrive.

Another necessary examination is to elaborate on the current status of female entrepreneurial funding within the country and how this has affected the success/ failure rates of entrepreneurs.

Another question that must be explored into is whether all the recent programs aimed at creating better conditions for female entrepreneurs have been effective or have things remained the same despite their implementation? The end result of such an analysis is to understand what methods of funding can contribute to the development of female entrepreneurial activities.

The question of the research is: What are the key obstacles that women entrepreneurs in the UAE believe they faced 10 years ago, and what has changed, for better or worse ?,

Women entrepreneurs in the UAE face a lot of challenges [3]. Studies indicate that despite the rapid growth of women entrepreneurs in both developed and developing countries as the UAE. The issue of gender equality, particularly within the UAE cultural context, stands not efficiently resolved [7], [8], [9]. Entrepreneurship plays a significant role in boosting economic growth.

The UAE happens to be among the country that shows impressive progress in economic growth, through encouraging entrepreneurship projects. Most of the women entrepreneurs in the United Arab Emirates participate in small-scale businesses, and hence receive socially little support [10]. However, women in the UAE go through lots of challenges running their own businesses [8], [9].

There are several factors against women entrepreneurship in this region. These include cultural factors, religion restriction, opportunity recognition, work-family balance, motivation, gender discrimination, financial support, and performance among others [11].

Recognizing opportunities is a bit hard for the Emirates women, considering that gender differences are linked to the varying variables of human capital. The differences primarily revolve around work experiences and education. In the UAE, men receive more advantages than women, considering that their experience in entrepreneurship and management of employees is a bit higher.

Researchers indicate that women have less human capital to invest in businesses compared to men [10], [9], [10]. This makes it hard for women to identify opportunities and utilize their potential skills, experience, and power.

The restricted structure in labor markets of the UAE, demotivate women entrepreneurs on grounds of gender inequality. The cultural and religious factors to some extend play a significant role in denying women right to own businesses without the support of their male partners.

On the contrary, the women’s entrepreneurship experience in other countries such as Jordan and Kuwait is quite different. This trend can be partly explained by the educational differences between the countries. For instance, in Kuwait, female graduates outnumber male graduates by more than 20 percent [12].. However, the same thing cannot be said about the UAE.

The recognition of women’s entrepreneurship’s contribution to economic growth is higher in these Arab countries compared to that of UAE. For instance, the Kuwait Economic Society implements projects that empower women. These projects enhance trade and investment [13], [14], [15]. They also focus on creating a business environment that supports women entrepreneurship.

For instance, an already established KES program in Kuwait provides women with opportunities such as training, sharing of experience, business networking, and growth among others. In Jordan, there are numerous funded projects that create awareness of issues surrounding business environments. Here, women receive training concerning entrepreneur issues such as performance and decision making processes [15].

This promotes their entrepreneur projects. Jordan and Kuwait also strengthen legal awareness of issues surrounding women entrepreneurs. This increases the depth of their skills, techniques and offer capital to women for starting new businesses. This all in the long run contributes a lot to the economic growth of the country [14].

For instance, Saudi Arabia offers them 3,000 Saudi Riyals every month to start new businesses [15]. To a great extent, this strategy has been effective since it contributed to increasing the percentage of entrepreneurs from 14. 8 to 26 during the period between 2009 and 2011 [16].

There are several measures that should be put in place to help women entrepreneurs in UAE to overcome challenges in businesses. These include education, training, and support of the UAE governmental funds among others [15]. The UAE should copy some practices from countries like Kuwait, Jordan KSA, and other developed Arab countries, which encourage women entrepreneurship [16], [17].

These countries understand the importance of women entrepreneurs in economic growth, and employs strategies that influence them to become entrepreneurs. However it is clear that the UAE has made a progress in addressing issues associated with the Emirati women.

For instance, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Foundation in collaboration with the American University of Beirut came up with a plan supporting women innovation and entrepreneurship in 2008.

New programs have also been introduced in the country enabling the emergence of many partnerships of women entrepreneurs and large corporations. In 2009, the chamber of commerce and industry registered more than 4,160 women as members [18].

Motivation and Relevance to Masdar/UAE

Since Masdar City is a clean, green and sustainable city, this atmosphere requires innovational yet responsible business ideas. The UAE Women entrepreneurs could try translating, their creative business ideas to sustainable technologies, producing useful products, providing environmentally friendly services or maybe help with creating new jobs in Masdar.


The primary objective of this paper is to compare the situation of female entrepreneurs within the UAE 10 years ago with their current situation in 2013. Through this analysis, this research will be able to show whether sufficiently positive developments have been enacted that would be conducive towards developing a better environment to encourage female entrepreneurship within the UAE or not.

In this research what will be examined is the current state of SME’s within the UAE and the situation of female entrepreneurs in 2014 as compared to how they were ten years ago. This paper will be able to determine whether sufficiently positive changes have been implemented resulting in a better overall situation for the growth of female entrepreneurship within the UAE.

Through this section, a greater understanding will be developed regarding the various factors that restricted the growth of female entrepreneurship within the region and if such factors continue to take a dominating role in gender based entrepreneurial growth.

So far, what this section has shown is that the problems female entrepreneurs currently face within the country come in the form of traditional cultural practices, insufficient government support and lack of proper access to financial institutions.

When comparing the data from the article “Small Enterprises: Women Entrepreneurs in the UAE” by Hans Christian Haan with current academic articles examining the state of female entrepreneurship within the country, it was shown that the issues have remained roughly unchanged from the time that the Haan article was written.

It is based on this that the primary objective of this paper is to expound on such issues and determine how they can be resolved.

In conclusion the main objective of this research would be to attempt a 10-year review of Haan’s study results to see whether the same conclusions apply today – after many innovational attempts nationwide were formed or not. What factors faced women in the past get improved, and which still stand and needs further investigation, action or regulation.

Some ways to inspire and assist woman entrepreneurs in the UAE would be:

  • Empowering UAE’s woman entrepreneurs to seek collaborations with educational and research institutes that promote development of novel innovative and practical business ideas.
  • Educating enterprising entrepreneurs on development and creation of creative innovations that have high chances of legalization, with potentially big impacts on the economy where ready market is available.
  • Empowering woman entrepreneurs with knowledge of identifying the processes and procedures those innovative ideas must pass through in order to be socially accepted as viable and worth investing in.
  • Educating entrepreneurs on ways of getting government funding and reaching out to non-governmental organizations to fund their innovations and noble ideas; entrepreneurs fail to venture into markets due to inadequacy or complete lack of funds and under-informed on available sources of funds.

Literature Review

Entrepreneurship Development in the UAE

The main measures of entrepreneurship skills are scores on motivation, personal attitude and aptitude. Action planning in entrepreneurship is of importance to create solution oriented task and strategy implementation function for quantifying task orientation levels [30], [31], [32].

Thus, a budding entrepreneur must possess task orientation leadership skills at an individual task management level in reviewing actual and expected outcome of any business opportunity [33], [34], [35].

With the number of entrepreneurs supplying or dealing with similar products and services on the rise, it is imperative for entrepreneurs or businesspersons in UAE to understand factors influencing the consumer purchase decision in order to design the best strategy for meeting consumer demands [32], [37] [36].

Scholars in the field of economics have approached entrepreneurship from different perspectives with numerous views regarding entrepreneurships and innovation. Peter suggests that entrepreneurship goes in hand with innovation, changes and opportunities for innovation [38].

On the other hand, Steve Blank, a business school professor avers that entrepreneurship is about getting out into the world and doing and not basically researching and writing [24]. These scholars do agree that entrepreneurs face difficulties of finding the right opportunities and the needed innovation, creating competitive brands using strong products and finding the right markets [39].

Rob and Marry postulate that innovation involves doing things differently or doing different thing in order to arrive at large gains in performance at micro and macro level of entrepreneurship [36], [37], [38].

The two authors further recognize that lack of capital and funding is the main obstacle for innovation. Others however contrast with Rob and Marry by associating innovations with the rise of technical inventions such as the computers and steam engines [10], [34].

As opined by Schawbel [35], [36], [37] an excellent entrepreneur should possess transformational leadership skills that identify a range of problematic situations that an individual faces in his or her social environment, and generates multiple alternative solutions to those problems.

Besides, he/she should lay a series of procedures that are necessary to achieve desired results rather than postponing response strategies [38], [39]. The three building blocks of situational management skills include learning intra personal performance, supportive learning environment, concrete learning processes, and practice leadership that reinforces performance [40], [41], [42], [43].

Entrepreneurs in the developed countries (USA, Sweden and Finland)

Although government policies, infrastructure and large markets provide vast investment opportunities in developed countries, young entrepreneurs continue to face challenges [8]. [15] Point out that the decline in economic growth has resulted in decline in entrepreneurship opportunities and constant increase in business’ start-up costs.

Young entrepreneur’s sale their ideas to capital ventures and find themselves exploited as capital ventures benefit and leave them with nothing [19]. Other scholars argue that the content of entrepreneurship in the local education especially in Finland is so wide; the methods of teaching entrepreneurship in schools are poor and the goals of the entrepreneurial education conflict with the local business environment [7], [18], [19].

According to MoniaLougui, young entrepreneurs in Sweden and in the developed countries face entry barriers; these are obstacles that promote existing firms to make constructive economic proceeds while making it difficult for new firms to make impacts in the market. They also face financial barriers and cultural and value barriers [17], [20], [21].

Challenges Facing Swedish Entrepreneurs

Rojewski [34] shows that entrepreneurship and small firms play a significant role in economic growth. Entrepreneurship is considered as innovation. It drives people to create their own jobs, and hence improves their living standards [11].

The author identifies the obstacles that entrepreneurs go through, when starting businesses. Most of the Swedish entrepreneurs, particularly the women, find impediments and challenges when starting businesses [21]. Through the use of a multinomial regression, the author confirms that administrative costs and financial problems are the primary barriers to success of new businesses in Sweden [29].

In addition, the self-employed individuals who invest in manufacturing industries face many obstacles during the early stages of product development. In relation to the Emirates women entrepreneurs, it can be confirmed that women entrepreneurs in most parts of the world, particularly those in the developing world face lots of problems when starting their businesses.

Considering that the link between entrepreneurship and economic growth is positive, countries all over the world should modulate entrepreneurship. The UAE, for instance, needs to call off the cultural and religious barriers that restrict women from starting their own businesses.

Economic growth enhances high living standards, and hence improves the lives of women who would have otherwise been left to depend on their husband for everything [30].

Entrepreneurs in Gulf Countries

The Gulf region has attracted a lot of attention in the recent past due to its rapidly growing economy, especially Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Researchers suggest that the main obstacles facing young entrepreneurs in the Arab world is having access to capital [21], [22], [23].

To a great extent, this opinion is shared by women who were surveyed during my study. Saifur Rahman [24] further says that despite Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) contributing greater percentages in national GDP, they are highly neglected and Lending for SMEs in the Gulf Coast Countries is very low and access to finance is the Greatest Challenge.

Khalid Al Ameri argues that that the Middle East education system has not shifted to meet the needs of the current technology and young entrepreneurs may not have enough knowledge about the business environment [23], [25].

HanifaItani, Yusuf M. Sidani and ImadBaalbaki [17] support Khalid Al Ameri saying that insufficient managerial and financial information and lack of government support are major obstacles to UAE SMEs and entrepreneurs. Bruhn et al point out that lack of managerial capital is the key restriction for young entrepreneurs in most developing countries [26], [27], [28].

Consumer Behavior in UAE and Entrepreneurship Development

Consumers in UAE exhibit a particular sequence of purchases or proportion of purchases that may be predictive of consumer behaviors such a brand loyalty due to their unique Islamic culture. Consumer behavior can be determined through listening carefully to what the customers say about a product or service.

The focus here is to consumers feeling through assessment of her voice and comments about a product or service [44]. Understanding of consumer behavior facilitates effective entrepreneurship and promotion resources through ensuring that such activities are well planned in order to yield the desired result in the most efficient and effective way possible [45], [46], [47].

Consumer behavior in UAE is not only of great importance to entrepreneurs but also crucial to consumer protection agencies, ethicists, public policy makers and regulators and consumer advocacy groups who protect consumers from any unsafe offerings or decisions by marketers [46].

Understanding consumer behavior in UAE enables entrepreneurs to strategize on the best way to reach out to the clients. It also assists in establishing ways of changing unfavorable consumer behaviors as well as reinforcing positive behavior patterns [48], [49].

Factors Undermining Entrepreneurship Development in UAE

The detrimental of insourcing to entrepreneurship attitude in UAE is often negative. The outsourcing UAE government has lost considerable taxes when only the foreign entrepreneurs carry out insourcing services. The outsourcing government cannot claim revenue on taxation because this benefit ends up with the foreign country that insources [51].

In addition, there is great concern regarding the rate of unemployment of local countries that outsourcing some activities to the insourcing countries. The situation became even more critical when developed countries compose the insourcing team as is the case in UAE. As a result, the rate of entrepreneurship development in UAE has been slow [51].

UAE has a reputation of setting high legal expectations of a business which is a repellent to internal and external entrepreneurship investors. Federal law of 1975 no. 5 on commercial registration makes verification of a business difficult since it has to pass many a lot before approval [4], [5].

Federal law drafted in 1992, no. 37 defines the provision of patent and trademark rights in UAE has helped eliminate the chances of fraudulent attempts on a company’s product to ensure that the company is not disadvantaged.

Besides, federal law no. 13 drafted in 2007 defines the legality of import and export business to ensure that entrepreneurs are protected [4], [5]. We could take up this as an assurance of the protection to be offered to their products against illegal dealers though the registration process is very expensive in time and cost.

For the social dimension of the evaluation of the UAE market for entrepreneurship products, it is necessary to tailor such products to suit the acceptable cultural norms. This way, it is necessary for the entrepreneurs who are carrying out the research to evaluate the literacy levels of the UAE people.

Specifically, it is recorded in the World Fact book of the CIA that literacy level by 2003 was at an average of 97% among young generation who are the target of entrepreneurship activities. [50], [51], [52]. This will include the evaluation of the education system and levels. Most importantly is to link the findings to the target market of entrepreneurship products.

By doing this, entrepreneurs in UAE will establish the level of awareness of the people of UAE. Several questions may pop up during this feasibility study. Comprehensively, it would be necessary to establish how conversant the people of UAE are to technological advancements constantly changing a cross the global arena [53], [54], 55].

The answers to this question could be relative as it depends on the country’s technological advancement. Research has it that UAE though very populous, have a high percentage of the literate in its population [56]. UAE has a high number of literate young who would be the target consumers for entrepreneurship products [57]. This is as a viable business opportunity.

Women Entrepreneurs in the UAE

Haan [58] gives a clear explanation concerning the UAE women entrepreneurs, their experiences in the field, and the roles played by public and private agencies in modulating entrepreneurship [59]. The author provides an analysis and a survey of 30 UAE women entrepreneurs.

The survey involves in-depth interviews concerning how they run their businesses, the challenges they face, and the support they get to pursue or continue running their enterprises. The Haan’s article provides a study about two different segments namely, the modern and traditional activities in the UAE women-managed enterprises. The latter is engaged in the most recent economic activities.

In incorporates advanced information and communication technologies and updated practices of businesses [60]. It is in most cases run by young UAE women, educated and business-oriented [57]. On the other hand, the traditional activities segment consists of simple manufacturing and trading [56].

The study in Haan’s article analyses the constraints faced by the UAE women entrepreneurs, and gives suggestions for the most appropriate recommendations. For instance, there is a need to formulate policies and create institutional capacity that promotes women entrepreneurship. There is also a need for pursuing specific support services for segments, as well as the government support and other agencies in the UAE [51].

Entrepreneurship, Emirati perspective

[26], [55] narrate that globalization, technological advances, and innovations among others are instrumental in the transformation of societies in the world [32]. However, there are challenges and opportunities associated with the aforementioned shifts particularly in women entrepreneurship. According to the authors, for the UAE to become a fully transformed entrepreneurial nation, it has to inculcate entrepreneurship at an early stage.

This should include teaching children at their early age about it, incorporating it in the education system, and using awareness platforms to inform, educate and influence people, particularly women, on the need to pursue entrepreneurship [33]. There is also a need to formulate policy insights to give policy makers a direction to assist them formulate efficient policies and programs to support the UAE women entrepreneurs.

As mentioned earlier, the UAE has shown an impressive progress in the recent past with regards to social development and economic growth sustainability [38]. For instance, in 2011, the GEM study survey in 54 economies confirmed the UAE as one of the most innovation-driven country in the world.

However, the nation needs to continue making immense progress in strengthening entrepreneurship, particularly women entrepreneurship [39]. This will not only help them become creative and create new jobs, but also enable them to empower others to do the same. This will ensure that the future generations of the UAE will be vibrant both in entrepreneurship and in growing the country’s economy [40].

Women business owners in the UAE

In the article “Women business owners in the United Arab Emirates” it is clear that the UAE women entrepreneurs are more educated than those from Jordan, Tunisia, and Kuwait among other countries [37]. According to the survey conducted in UAE, more than 89% of women entrepreneurs have an optimistic outlook towards their businesses and the country’s economy at large [38] [39], [40].

More than 73% of the women surveyed focused on growth and expansion, but needed financial opportunities. Only 8% felt that running a business was disadvantageous for them. This confirms that most of them love managing their own businesses compared to those from other Arab nations [39].

Female business students in the Middle East

Hossan, Parakandi, and Saber suggest that there are several barriers that restrict female students in the Middle East from pursuing entrepreneurship interests [23]. The authors analyze the strengths/opportunities, weaknesses/issues and challenges that these students get exposed to in the country.

From their research, it is evident that despite having potential to start ventures, these students lack enough knowledge about the organizations that support ventures [68]. Prior work experience and different entrepreneurship barriers, which are based on gender discrimination, deny women opportunities to participate in business ventures [23].

Current Attitudes Regarding Business Financing

Based on the article “Small Enterprises: Women Entrepreneurs in the UAE” by Hans Christian Haan, it was noted that women within the UAE rely on their own personal savings as their primary method of creating startup capital [4]. This is an incredibly laborious and time consuming process which would of course slow down the process of entrepreneurial activity within any country that utilizes such a system [5].

Such a situation is in stark contrast to the way in which the entrepreneurial sector in other countries such as China, the U.S., the UK and even in certain sectors in the Middle East work since it is often seen that investing in entrepreneurs creates numerous beneficial actions, such as a better local economy, greater amount of bank deposits and helping out what could potentially develop into a larger enterprise [13].

As a rule, financial institutions are very cautious when deciding whether to invest in a start-up enterprise. In many cases, they need to see guarantees showing that the loan can be repaid. Therefore, in many cases, entrepreneurs find it challenging to accumulate capital.

After conducting an analysis of the Erogul article which examined the current situation of women entrepreneurs within the UAE, it was revealed that female entrepreneurs still continue to rely on their own slowly accumulated capital as compared to merely taking out a bank loan [3].

This shows that from 2004 till the present, there has been little change in the cultural attitude regarding entrepreneurial financing among women [8]. One of the potential reasons behind such a state of affairs has been connected to the currently arduous process of taking out a loan within a bank wherein a male sponsor is needed in order to sign and guarantee all aspects of the loan [13].

Since female entrepreneurs have to rely on a sponsor who may not always be there, this further impedes the process of business development which actually discourages women from relying on banks as a source of capital 10].

It was seen that in the article “Small Enterprises: Women Entrepreneurs in the UAE” by Hans Christian Haan that in the case of the UAE, family played a crucial role in the funding and development of small to medium scale business ventures for women wherein more than 25% of local businesses started by female entrepreneurs were a result of family members contributing towards the initial starting capital of the entrepreneur and actively gave advice regarding the proper management of the business [10].

In fact, it was noted by researchers such as Mostafa (2005) that it is the strong interfamily ties within the country’s culture that limits the export market of the UAE. This is due to the development of a business culture where it has become preferable to deal with family members or friends of the family when it comes to joint business ventures and business opportunities.

This in effect severely curtails the ability of a business to expand beyond its current market due to the inherent hesitance in dealing with the unfamiliar [5]. While there is nothing inherently wrong with family based methods of capital financing, studies such as those by Mostafa (2005) stated that it often came with certain conditions related to the types of business that can be gone into by female entrepreneurs [5].

This often entailed clothing, textiles, and manufacturing that were often detailed as the “traditional domain” of female entrepreneurs within the UAE.

This conditional funding through family based methods of capital development can actually be considered a limiting factor in the capacity for female entrepreneurs to establish themselves in new types of business and, as such, can be considered a detrimental feature of the current “entrepreneurial funding” system within the UAE [13].

Analysis of Government Policy Initiatives

An analysis of government policy initiatives that were mentioned in the Haan article showed the presence of gender specific barriers in entrepreneurship wherein male sponsorship, male networking and overall male assistance was required when it came to women entering into any form of entrepreneurial activity.

The problem with the implementation of male sponsorships is that it is not needed in the case of women entrepreneurs since males basically just sign their signatures on a piece of paper [59]. They are not partners in the business nor do they take an active role in it; basically the Haan article shows that men are just there to show that there is a level of biased gender supervision occurring.

Through the work of Madsen (2010), it was revealed that at the present, there have been no government policy initiatives to address such issues with the same policies continuing to exist [60].

Contributing to this problem is the lack of sufficient government funding in the development of female support networks which are there to help women in connecting with each other and developing the necessary relationships to grow and expand their business.

While it may be true that the UAE government states that it actively promotes female entrepreneurship and even gives awards to prominent female entrepreneurs, the fact remains that the current policy system within the region suffers from significant gender specific biases. This creates barriers towards the creation of a better business environment for female entrepreneurs [6].

In a presentation, a number of things have changed over these ten years, yet the issue concerning women in business somehow remains just as unsolved as it used to be, mostly because the basic initiatives still revolve around introducing agencies that will help regulate the issue within the market.

However, certain changes are definitely worth being mentioned. While the issue regarding women in the UAE business still leaves much to be desired, considerable concessions have been made over the past decade.

The initiatives of the UAE government

To start with, the formation of the Khalifa Fund can be considered the stepping stone of female empowerment in business in the UAE. Khalifa Fund was created in 2007 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The fund was originally intended to help SMEs and encourage the development of small businesses across the country.

Offering to invest in new and promising industrial and service sectors within the Abu Dhabi area, the fund allowed for small business growth. Funded by the government, the organization reflects the attempts of the latter to change the UAE business landscape. In 2012, the organization announced its determination to invest in microbusinesses [61], [62], [63], [64].

In fact, the given organization can be considered by far the most supportive and efficient of all; being one-of-a-kind project, it provides “venture capital, training, development, data and consulting services, and even marketing support” [3], which is very impressive.

However, financial assistance does not have a tangible impact on the Emirati society and its concept of women in business: “However, unlike other countries, there is a lack of support targeting female entrepreneurs in UAE” [4].

Recently, the organization has been paying special attention to women in business. In 2013, nearly 30% of $14 m was provided to allow for more options for UAE women in SME. At present, the Khalifa Fund is tackling the issue quite efficiently. However, there is still a long way for the Khalifa Fund to go in order to provide UAE women with the same options as men have in business.

What is necessary is the development of better policy initiatives in not only removing gender barriers in entrepreneurial activity, but also in developing the necessary networks for female entrepreneurs to thrive [65], [66], [67], [68].

Furthermore, there are organizations that enable female entrepreneurs find experienced mentors. For example, one can mention Ro’Ya. Secondly, it is possible to mention the organizations that assist females in developing their leadership skills. In particular, one can refer to Dubai Business Women Establishment.

Research Plan


The methodology that will be utilized within this particular research will be, a serial of questions sent to a variety of female entrepreneurs within the UAE. In order to determine the various difficulties they experience on a daily basis when it comes to entrepreneurial activities.

To achieve statistical significance results and conclusions, we chose the initial number of surveys distributed to be 200 with the goal of obtaining 100 useful responses.


In women business owners in the United Arab Emirates, 2007 paper, 44 survey questions were analyzed in their study [21]. Haan conducted a survey of 30 questions in his UAE women entrepreneurs’ paper [13]. In this research a similar set of questions will be incorporated in the survey.

To provide solid and statistically useful data, around 200 candidates will be asked to answer these questions. Then an analysis of the results obtained in this step will be made. This all will help us perform a sampling campaign for candidates of the next step.

Personal Interviews

Thenwe will narrow down the number of candidates, to a reasonable number of candidates from UAE women business owners, to conduct personal interviews with them in order to obtain qualitative assessments of the factors explored in the survey. We will be choosing candidates who follow a certain pattern, to better measure the problem in hand.

The candidates will be sharing their experiences before and after they started their businesses. For instance they will talk about the challenges, opportunities, and the support they needed to make their businesses a success. Mentioning strategies that helped them succeed as entrepreneurs, despite the constraints that acted as barriers. Again all information gathered will be analyzed for the in depth interviews.

In Depth Interviews

This will be the last step on the methodology, and the number of candidates will get even smaller than step 2, because the questions in this stage will get more specific and detailed and more personal. All information that will be obtained via any method of the data gathering will be kept strictly confidential.. Their feedback would give a huge impact on the recommendation section of this research.

The Gantt chart demonstrates the monthly milestones of the research for spring semester.

Gantt Chart

Gantt Chart


The initiatives of the UAE Government

Name of the Initiative Intention
Khalifa Fund This initiative is aimed at providing investment opportunities for the owners of small businesses
Abu Dhabi Business Women Council This organization strives to help women better cope with the role of entrepreneurs
Ro’Ya This program has been launched to enable female entrepreneurs showcase their business projects and find mentors.
Dubai Women Establishment The goal of this organization is to assist women with the development of leadership skills.
International Business Women’s Group This organization supports the networking of female entrepreneurs.


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