by Maha Al Gargawi
  • 3 minute read
  • July 06, 2023
Leading The Way: Maha Al Gargawi, Vice President Of Business Advocacy At Dubai Chambers, On Empowering The Next Generation Of Female Business Leaders

Growing up in a family where I was the only sister to three brothers, my biggest inspiration was my father. As my main advocate and supporter, he taught me many valuable lessons in life. The most important was to paint my own story and, guided by the values he instilled in me, I’m proud to have become the strong and confident woman I am today.

Having chosen to study in the United Kingdom, I earned my Master’s Degree in International Commercial Law at University College London in 2009, and began working for a prominent global law firm in the city. However, I was keen to come back home, and joined the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation as a legal counsel when the UAE was implementing its nuclear power programme—the first of its kind in the region. From there, I climbed the corporate ladder until I was appointed Deputy General Counsel.

Throughout my career, I’ve been drawn towards impactful projects that embody the UAE’s vision and contribute to Dubai’s development. I was thrilled to be recruited by Expo 2020 Dubai as Director of the International Participants team that engaged with the 192 countries and global organisations that were part of the landmark occasion. Working directly with such a huge portfolio was a remarkable experience that offered a level of exposure like no other.

After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the event was delayed, it became more important than ever to bring the world together in the spirit of unity. Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, one of the female role models I’ve learnt so much from, entrusted me with the position of Senior Vice President of Political Affairs at Expo 2020 Dubai. When I look back at what we were able to achieve, it fills me with pride to have been a part of the team that brought this incredible event to life and reaffirmed Dubai’s position as a leading destination.

Having visited over 65 countries, I consider myself to be an avid traveller. My exposure to diverse cultures has helped shape my outlook, as well as my personal approach to leadership. The varied perspectives I’ve gained by interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds have enriched my decision- making process. I believe that being open to other points of view has a direct influence on one’s ability to affect change.

During my time at Expo 2020 Dubai, I collaborated closely with private sector representatives from many countries. This rewarding experience equipped me for the post I hold today at Dubai Chambers. As Vice President of Business Advocacy, I oversee a team that works with key government stakeholders to impact policy changes that enhance Dubai’s position as a place to do business and ensure its global competitiveness. It’s fulfilling to work on impactful projects that contribute to the sustainable success of the city’s economic strategy and support the ambitions of the UAE’s wise leadership.

In recent years, Dubai has witnessed a wave of changes, with more women entering the workforce. This has been led by a top-down approach from the government, which has been a key proponent of equality and female empowerment. With the ongoing rise of local businesswomen, it’s vital that Dubai Chambers’ policy framework supports and advances the interests of women-led SMEs by enhancing access to finance, opportunities and resources.

On a personal level, it’s always been important for me to make a difference, contribute, and be a part of this proud nation’s journey. It’s also humbling to be considered as a role model for the community because I believe there’s something to learn from every woman, irrespective of her position and title.

Here in Dubai, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by so many inspirational women. Whether they choose to advance their careers or embrace their entrepreneurial spirit, we at Dubai Chambers are proud to support businesswomen as they follow in the footsteps of the generations of Emirati women who brought our nation’s story to life.

Visit and follow @Dxbchambercomm on Instagram.

Photography by Aasiya Jagadeesh

This article was originally published in Villa 88’s Summer 2023 edition. Subscribe here.

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