Massive Change Ahead in Middle East: Women Control $700 Billion and Counting

Middle Eastern women

Wealthy female investors in the Middle East are increasingly focused on the environmental and social returns of their investments–not just financial returns. According to Gulf News, women control 22 percent of the region’s assets, amounting to $700 billion–an amount expected to grow by 8% in the next four years–and $70 billion of that is their own personal wealth.

“You’re seeing women being much more confident about their wealth. They are not flaunting it, but it’s not just about buying designer bags and watches,” said Shimi Shah, Chairman of Carousel Solutions, in the Gulf News report. “They want to do good, they are a lot more savvy about the region, and they’re talking about corporate social responsibility–that’s a very powerful message coming out now.”

In addition to an increasing focus on the role and preferences of women investors in the Middle East, a focus on developing a culture of entrepreneurship among young people in the region is also emerging.
The Dubai Women’s College today kicked off the Innovative Entrepreneurship Education Conference, with a focus on young entrepreneurs.

“There is no greater way to effect economic change in the region than a properly functioning ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs and Small Business Enterprises (SMEs)” said Abraaj Capital’s Riyada Enterprise Development CIO, Tom Speechley. “The best chance of creating jobs in the region is through entrepreneurship.” According to a press release, the unemployment rate among Arab youth under 30 is 30%.

So with an increased focus on entrepreneurship and the financial values of Middle Eastern women, the region could be in store for even more massive changes in the coming decades, likely to include more input from youth and from women.

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[Image: Flickr user Rennett Stowe]