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Forum encourages Emirati entrepreneurs

After opening a shop in the capital this month, Maryam al Romithi plans to expand her business to Dubai, the rest of the Emirates and across the region.

ABU DHABI // After opening a shop in the capital this month, Maryam al Romithi plans to expand her business to Dubai, the rest of the Emirates and across the region.

Although the 35-year-old Emirati mother of two is already a procurement officer at the National Drilling Company, she decided to start a business last year.

"I wanted to be my own boss," said Mrs al Romithi, the proud owner of Wall Arts Decoration, which specialises in wall decoration and stickers.

She deals with five companies in the UK and the US, and two manufacturers in China. She started out with a kiosk in the Al Wahda Mall in November 2009, and opened her first shop there several weeks ago.

Yesterday, Mrs al Romithi and other small business owners got a boost from an event organised by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development and the Khalifa Fund.

At the Abu Dhabi Forum for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), it was announced yesterday that the Ministry of Economy was working on preparing a new law for SMEs that would enhance competitiveness, augment their ability to perform in the industrial, technological and service fields, and encourage more citizens to participate.

Although no details were offered, Dr Ahmed Khalil al Mutawa, chief executive of the Khalifa Fund, said his organisation would work with government agencies that co-ordinate various stakeholders, local and federal organisations.

In this way, he said, small and medium-sized businesses would be encouraged to thrive. The organisation had granted Dh410 million to 233 projects since launching three years ago, Dr al Mutawa said.

"We also try our best to nurture and develop an atmosphere that supports the competitive advantages of small and medium-sized national projects," he said.

For example, the fund's Electronic Gate offers a platform for selling and marketing various projects.

Mrs al Romithi applied for a grant from the Khalifa Fund, but her application was rejected on the ground that any products needed to be produced locally.

Nevertheless, during yesterday's event at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr hotel in Abu Dhabi, she said she was pleased that the Government provided a platform to support Emirati entrepreneurs like herself.



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