Doing Business in the Middle East: A star in the ascendant Fawzia Salamah
Middle East Business was very lucky to meet with the legendary Fawzia Salamah, media star of the Arab world and a role model for many women. She is one of four presenters of the most famous women’s talk shows broadcast on MBC, “Kalam Nawaem”(Sweet Talk).
Ms. Salamah has a Master’s degree in media and is a writer on women issues. Her novel, “The White Sheets”, tells of the challenges, injustices and horrendous difficulties women face in Egypt. Our guest was Editor-in-Chief of the famous magazine, Sayidati, and also Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. She has a daughter of whom she is extremely proud. During our meeting, Ms. Salamah discussed the importance of women’s economic empowerment and having full control of one’s finances. Here is an overview of what Fawzia told us.
Control over one’s money is a basic right for women which is guaranteed by Islam. There is therefore no religious controversy over this issue and should be accepted as a given.
Second, the main objective of economic empowerment for women is to have control over one’s life and cultural choices. Previously women had neither control of their own lives nor their environment (surroundings). When having marital difficulties – especially in cases where women are being abused or beaten – some women feel obliged to stay put, to live with the situation being imposed upon them. When they have full control of their lives they can make a choice to refuse to accept this behaviour and leave, or to accept the unjust situation and stay. To exercise one’s right of self-determination can be seen as “psychological training”, learning to make decisions about bigger societal issues.
Mothers are role models for their daughters, so it’s their duty to give psychological support and advice to their daughters about their careers and their lives – if asked.
Men might not want women to have such privileges granted to them, as some people say that strong women lose their femininity if they want equality with men. But religion binds men and women, with many verses of the Quran stating, “The believing men and women”, an implication of equal responsibilities between men and women. However, some men do not want to relinquish any of their privileges.
In addition, there are some professions that request women’s work and professionalism, for example architecture. Women spend more time in the house than men (as often they are primary carer for the household), and women have more sense of what a house might need within its structure and the type of space required for family use (living room, kitchen size etc.). Another factor that is required to enable women to run their own business or participate in the labour market is a surrounding ‘ecosystem’ of quality kindergartens and schools.
This right, for women to control their income or their money, is a basic right granted by Islam. Anyone that says otherwise is clearly mistaken.
Ms. Salamah concluded our very interesting and heartfelt discussion by saying: “Women’s economic empowerment is indispensable for the advancement of societies in the Middle East”.
Meeting and chatting with Ms. Salamah was no normal event: it was a journey we were lucky to be taken on through her friendly, enthusiastic and passionate words of wisdom straight from her heart.
Don’t forget to visit our website www.middleast-business.com or download our mobile application to listen to Fawzia Salamah talking to YOU and to US.