DUBAI // A sense of inspiration filled the room yesterday during the launch of the eighth Emirates Women Award.
"Each and every one of us is extraordinary," said Raja al Gurg, the president of the Dubai Business Women Council. "Each one of us has the ability to harness our knowledge and skills. If you have strength, you can excel."
The award, which was founded in 2003 in collaboration with the Dubai Quality Group, is intended to acknowledge women for their successes and contributions to the community and encourage future generations of women to achieve their potential.
The award is open to Emiratis as well as expatriates who have been residents for at least three years. The selection criteria include leadership, financial performance and achievements, future goals, community contribution and innovation.
According to Ms al Gurg, there are 14,000 businesswomen, with 4,000 in Dubai, 3,800 in Abu Dhabi and the remainder distributed between Sharjah and Ajman. "Reaching the number one position regarding our work to enhance the value of the award or in our roles as businesswomen is not an easy task," she said. "[This] cannot happen without solid groundings, methods of action and assessment, and healthy and honest competition."
Judith Barton, the chief assessor of the award, said it was evident that women were striving for excellence as more women apply for the award each year.
"Since 2004, the Emirates Women Award has attracted applicants from approximately five per cent of the professional female population," she said. "This is the highest percentage anywhere in the world according to anecdotal evidence."
While healthy competition does foster progress, Ms al Gurg said it was important not to be preoccupied with comparisons but rather to focus on how this opportunity would benefit aspiring women and the community.
"We're not here to compare ourselves using figures - whether it be with men or with other countries," she said. "We're here to use this opportunity to nurture the talent that exists within the country and use this chance to create role models to inspire others."
Fatima al Jaber, the chairwoman of the Abu Dhabi Business Women Council, said that strong will and determination were the key ingredients to success for any entrepreneur.
"We must remember the first businesswomen pioneers who created the iron foundations of what we have inherited," Ms al Jaber said. "They began small; they possessed only limited finances and little entitlement. But they had fierce and unlimited ambitions, undaunted hopes, and above all, firm belief in their cause."
The deadline for applying for the award is April 7 and awards will be distributed at the end of May.