Posted on March 24, 2014

Wendy Alexander, Associate Dean, Degree Programmes and Career Services, London Business School, says: “Women’s leadership is entering a new age in the GCC and the wider Middle East. In recent weeks, several high-profile appointments have been made - Hala Shukrallah, who became Egypt’s first female political party leader, for example, and Somayya Jabarti, who became Saudi Arabia’s first female Editor-in-Chief."

“Business leaders in the region are increasingly recognising that women are at the heart of high performing teams delivering growth, and are taking bold moves to promote them into senior positions. Yet, whilst progress is being made, women in the GCC represent one if its greatest untapped talent pools. Women in the GCC make up the majority of its university graduates – Kuwait (67%), Qatar (63%), and Saudi Arabia (57%) respectively. Yet women are still comparatively few in the labour force. Whilst 57 per cent of all Saudi national graduates are women, just 17 per cent of the Kingdom’s labour force are female."

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“Nationalisation policies and board targets hold the potential to ameliorate that disparity, but there is still a long way to go before a balance is achieved. As regional economic activity ramps up, GCC businesses will have to identify the leaders most able to harness highly diverse, global teams. Women are well suited to these roles, with their approach to teamwork and inherent abilities at networking and relationship building. Women are already changing the face of business in the Middle East.  The reality of women in leadership roles, in comparison to the promise and potential of Arab women to become leaders, however, shows that the challenge of getting women into senior leadership is more than skin deep.”