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When it comes to powerful women, HE Sheikha Lubna
bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, the UAE’s Minister
for Foreign Trade takes some beating. Having studied
computer science at the California State University, this
influential Emirati national’s background may be in IT but
it is her role in government for which she is celebrated. As
a major player in the UAE business arena, she has pushed
the boundaries, challenging traditional perceptions about
women in business ever since her remarkable development
of a highly efficient system that impressively reduced cargo
turnaround at Dubai Ports Authority from one hour to
just ten minutes! This is just a small indication of the
determination to succeed that this remarkable woman
An Inspirational Role Model for Women
Positions of power call for great strength of character but
it is rare to see someone command such respect due not
only to their business savvy but also as a result of being a
generally pleasant and warm personality. She is extremely
well regarded in the UAE and admired by most women in
the country, who view her as an incredibly inspirational
role model. Highly regarded as the first woman to hold
a ministerial post in the United Arab Emirates, she has
received the high praise of ‘redefining what it is to be a
woman in charge and in control’. Such is the positive
power of her influence in the UAE that she has made it on
to the revered Forbes List of 100 Most Powerful Women
in the World – high praise indeed and very well deserved
given the difference she has made to the country and the
wider world.
The Motivational Journey of a Powerhouse
So who is this remarkable powerhouse who seems to have
captured the attentions of a nation? A member of the
ruling family of Sharja, Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna
bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, is the niece of His
Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi.
Having graduated from the California State University,
Chico, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science,
Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan al Qasimi also
impressively lays claim to an Executive MBA from the
American University of Sharjah and subsequently received
an honorary Doctorate of Science from California State
University, Chico. With her academic qualifications
under her belt in 1981 she returned to work in the UAE
as a programmer for software company Datamation. This
was followed by a position as Dubai Branch Manager
for the General Information Authority, the organisation
in charge of automating the federal government of the
United Arab Emirates. Following this role she then
spent the next seven years in the high profile position of
Senior Manager of the Information Systems Department
at the Dubai Ports Authority (DPA), the largest port in
the Middle East. Here she gained yet more invaluable
experience which is apparent in the manner in which
she conducts her business affairs today. Previously the
Minister of Economic and Planning, on 1 November
2004 she was appointed the UAE’s Minister of Trade and
holds the honorable distinction of being the first woman
to hold a ministerial post in the United Arab Emirates.
So she represents the first female to hold a ministerial
post in the UAE when she was appointed to the
UAE’s Minister of Economics and Planning, but that
was by no means the start of her aspirational business
journey. Before entering government service, Sheikha
founded Tejari, (meaning ‘commerce’ in Arabic) the
first Middle Eastern Business to Business marketplace
promoting private venture for online purchasing. This
came about following her significant contribution at the
DPA which, in 1999, prompted His Highness Sheikh
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai
and Chairman of Dubai Ports and Customs, to award
her the ‘Distinguished Government Employee Award’
and appoint her as Chief Executive of Tejari. Establishing
this visionary governmental organisation in Dubai in
June 2000 , Lubna worked hard to encourage e-business
between organisations and it was under her authoritative
leadership that Tejari went on to win the awards for the
World Summit for Information Society’s ‘Best e-Content
Provider in e-business’ (Geneva) and the UAE Super
Brands Council ‘Super Brand of 2003’. Achieving great
things in the world of commerce, as a result of Tejari, 70
percent of the Dubai’s government purchases are now
made online. The company has franchises across the
Middle East and despite its initial funding by HH Sheikh
Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of
the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, broke even in 2006.
There are many ordinary women in the world who achieve extraordinary things for the greater good.
When it comes to highly admired and esteemed executives, HE Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin
Sultan Al Qasimi certainly holds her own in the Arab business world. Demonstrating exceptional
business acumen for bringing about systematic change, 2011 saw Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna
bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Minister of Foreign Trade, become the number one ranked
woman in the UAE.