More than 100 Brazilian and Arab figures in business, diplomacy, and women’s development came together at a first-of-its-kind networking event in São Paulo, Brazil, hosted yesterday (Tuesday) by a leading UAE-based women’s organisation, the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA).
Held on the side lines of Sharjah’s participation as the first-ever guest of honour at the São Paulo International Book Fair, where the emirate is consolidating its efforts to strengthen bilateral relations with Brazil and Latin America with a specific focus on cultural exchange and the books trade, NAMA and its associates took the theme of Emirati–Brazilian cultural partnerships into the sector of women’s capacity building and increasing their participation in society and economy in both countries.
Titled ‘Sharjah Welcomes You’, the forum offered business professionals and decision makers first-hand insight into the primary functions of NAMA and its associates, and highlighted the comprehensive approach adopted by Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of NAMA, for the advancement of women in a variety of sectors.
The event also reviewed the efforts of the Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), the
UAE-based global humanitarian organisation, which offers aid and assistance to refugees and the internally displaced worldwide, with a special focus on women and children.
After keynote remarks by HE Ibrahim Salem Al Alawi, Consul General of the United Arab Emirates in São Paulo, a panel discussion to introduce the participating organisations from Sharjah followed. It featured Sheikha Hind bint Majid Al Qassimi, Acting Chairperson of Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC); Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA; Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF; and moderator Bel Pesce, Brazilian entrepreneur and author.
Attendees included HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA); Erum Mazher Alvie, Senior Advisor, The Executive Office of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi (HHEO) and NAMA executive board member; Nada Al Lawati, NAMA Executive Board Member
Since the early 1970s, Emirati and Brazilian relations have seen continuous and expressive growth. The attendees of the event met to explore new avenues of cooperation between the two countries, and explore possible partnerships in a variety of fields with a special focus on women-related areas of development.
The discussions were held with a view of the fact that the UAE is the third largest Arab trading partner of Brazil after Saudi Arabia and Algeria, and the total value of non-oil trade between the two countries spiked 3.5 percent since 2016 to reach AED 9.88 billion ($ 2.69 billion) last year. The visa exemption agreement signed by the two countries this June, allowing their citizen visa-free entry, is the latest in a series of efforts to promote and bolster bilateral relations.
Emirati–Brazilian Fusion Trunk Show
In an effort to open new markets and opportunities for its members, NAMA showcased works of three fashion and jewellery designers affiliated to the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, Shorouq Al Madfaa, Khuloud Thani, Amal Shalil, and Wafaa Al-Aswad from SBWC, to conclude the networking event.
These designers presented their works on Latin-inspired platforms designed by Brazilian designers, The Campana Brothers and Paula Torres. The show offered attendees a glance at the strong support mechanisms NAMA and its associates offer their members to expand their networks and promote them globally.
Al-Alawi: Honouring Sharjah is a celebration of the UAE’s development experience
HE Ibrahim Salem Al-Alawi said that Sharjah’s participation as the São Paulo International Book Fair’s guest of honor not just a celebration of Emirati culture, but an acknowledgement of the UAE’s economic, social and political stature. Emphasising that there can be no success for isolated experiments, Al-Alawi stressed on the need for openness to others’ experiences and frequent exchange.
“When a country celebrates the culture of others, it shows the depth of their civilisation and the extent of their interest in accumulating knowledge as the primary fuel for civilisational progress. Perhaps the strongest proof of a truly progressive culture is when a delegation representing an organisation dedicated to enhancing women’s roles and contributions in society is part of a bigger cultural delegation to another country. The presence of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment in Brazil on the sidelines of Sharjah’s participation at the São Paulo Book Fair communicates a message of love and underscores that for any segment of society to develop, knowledge will have to be used as a compass to keep us on the right path of national development and protect past achievements.
His Excellency the Consul General of the UAE in São Paulo said: “By driving social empowerment, Brazil has achieved remarkable successes over the past decades to become the sixth most powerful economy in the world, enhancing social empowerment, supporting healthcare and education, and furthering equality of access to education and employment, as well as highlighting the importance of the family as the nucleus of society. In these respects the UAE and Brazil share many similarities, especially with regard to empowerment of all community groups, and to consider culture as the strongest tool to build a productive and creative society.
Reem BinKaram: Securing our present and future by strengthening women’s roles
“The Global Gender Gap Reportof the 2016 World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked the United Arab Emirates as the region's leading gender equality leader. Since the UAE’s inception and until today, these efforts have stemmed from the belief of our wise leadership that women and men are equal partners in society, and ensuring women have opportunities to express their unique abilities is in the interest of the nation building process.”
“Women's issues, their integrity, their right to education and sustainable income are among global concerns that can be addressed through strong global partnerships and the sharing of the knowledge and expertise. Sharjah and NAMA pledge to make every effort to further this cause by paying more attention to the enhancing educational opportunities and empowerment of women and children in all walks of life. Their role in building societies and nations and maintaining peace and competitiveness is irreplaceable.”
She pointed out that a according to the UAE’s education statistics, women rank first in the literacy index with 95.8%. She also said that 77% Emirati women enroll into higher education after secondary school and make for 70% of total university graduates in the UAE, and then go on to occupy two-thirds of public sector jobs in the country.
“The efforts of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, GWU, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation in the United Arab Emirates, have translated into hundreds of initiatives and development projects for women across the UAE,” BinKaram said.
“Advancing the role of women in society is a priority for His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, and Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, who are keen make these roles to indispensable for every aspect of community development.
During her speech, BinKaram also reviewed the common characteristics of the UAE and Brazil. She said: “Of the many traits that the UAE and Brazil have in common, the two nations’ unwavering commitment to advancing women and assist them with the necessary tools to realise full potential on all fronts is, what we believe is going to herald a new era of partnership between the two nations.”
Reem BinKaram said that the forum taking place on the side lines of Sharjah’s celebration as guest of honor at the São Paulo International Book Fair, clearly points to the strong relationship between culture and development – no development without culture and vice versa.
Sheikha Al Qassimi: We are working to strengthen partnerships with Brazilian businesswomen
“Fully integrating women-owned businesses into the global economy contributes not only to increasing their opportunities to excel in various commercial markets around the world, but also increasing the nation’s opportunities to excel and boost their overall GDP.
“Through our efforts, we aim to strengthen Sharjah's vision as an incubator for businesswomen in Sharjah and around the world. We rely heavily on establishing and strengthening ties with countries around the world in our pursuit to supporting women and advancing their roles on a global scale, and we are very excited to add Brazil to our network of partners.”
Sheikha Hind bint Majid Al Qasimi added: “The council's membership is formed by 1,515 businesswomen, professionals, university students and graduates, representing 21 sectors including real estate, legal advice, education, event management, arts and crafts, information technology and cosmetics. It is quite clear from these statistics that women are represented in almost every sector in the UAE; something we are proud of and want our Brazilian friends to know.”
Maryam Al Hammadi: Protecting the rights and interests of women, children and youth is a humanitarian priority
“All efforts of The Big Heart Foundation are aimed at realising the holistic vision of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, and his Wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of TBHF, UNHCREminent Advocate for Refugee Children, about the creation of a society in which the protection of the rights of women, children and young adults is a national and humanitarian priority and is a precondition to achieving long-term sustainable development.”
"The Foundation works with various international partners who share the same mission to achieve the goals we seek to ensure access to as many beneficiaries as possible. Through our presence in Brazil, we are keen to open more avenues of dialogue, provide access to decision makers around the world, and identify different areas within the humanitarian framework, thereby achieving a lasting partnership based on the spirit of humanity and community development between Brazil and the UAE. "
Al Hammadi pointed out that since the establishment of the UAE in 1971 and until 2014, a total of 178 countries across the world have benefitted from humanitarian projects and initiatives led by the UAE and amounted to AED 173 billion. Humanitarian support offered by TBHF reached about US $ 48 million benefiting 19 countries around the world, including Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia.