Habiba Al Marashi - The Social Entrepreneur

Habiba Al Marashi

President - Arabia CSR Network
Chairperson – Emirates Environmental Group


A die-hard optimist, Habiba Al Marashi is an advocate of Sustainable development and Corporate Social Responsibility. Formed in 2004, the Arabia CSR Network (ACSRN) is the first multi-stakeholder platform that engages small and large businesses and government institutions to strengthen their commitment to sustainable development across the Arab world.

How did you reach where you are today? What drove you to success?

First and foremost it is the blessings of Allah to clear ones path and vision to understand the purpose of our existence,  what is expected of us as human beings , combined with sheer hard work, dedication and perseverance that have helped me to scale new heights all the time.  When I started out I was not concerned about where it would lead me. I marched on, driven by my conviction that someday the fruits of my labour will definitely be visible. I have helped to found and grow four NON Profit Organisations. There have been challenges and every day struggles which have not pulled me down. A die hard optimist, I have always looked for the silver lining to every cloud I encountered. My unshakable belief in being able to do good for my country and my people drove me to channel all my efforts into my work, and that is why I believe success came to me.

What advice would you give a young woman starting her career today?

I would say that the world is your oyster. There is no challenge that is insurmountable if you push yourself hard enough in the right direction. As a young woman starting on a career, there are ample opportunities to grow and be successful, and we have the blessings of our visionary leadership that actively promotes women empowerment. The choice of career is critical and has to be based on what you are good at and not what is good for you. Find the right calling and put all your faith and strength behind it. Grab every opportunity that comes your way and create new opportunities for growth. Remember as you grow, society grows with you.

What brings you joy?

Nothing brings me greater joy than seeing my country being recognised around the world for its amazing feats. Today the UAE is firmly positioned on the global map and as an Emirati I am immensely proud of what we have achieved and how far we have come. From an insignificant past to becoming the epitome of modernisation and progress, the UAE has become a benchmark in the Region. And I am doubly pleased that our leadership is deeply committed to sustainable development. Nothing would give me greater joy than being the resident of a country that has achieved sustainable development.

Why is the UAE a great place for women leaders to succeed?

The UAE is an exemplar when it comes to women’s issues. And the reason behind this is undeniably the support of the leadership. From our founding father the late HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to the current President HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum – Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and all the Rulers of the other Emirates.  They have all steadfastly promoted women in all spheres of life. We are able to fulfill economic, social and political roles primarily because our rulers have considered us an asset and have tried to weave us into the fabric of the nation. With this mandate it is no wonder that women leaders have grown and succeeded in this country for many years now.

What more can UAE Government do to promote women in business?

A special focus on the private sector’s role in women’s economic, professional development and empowerment would be very beneficial. The public sector has traditionally absorbed the bulk of the demand for female employment. However the private sector has lagged behind and there are fewer UAE National women working and leading in the private sector than in public sector jobs. The private sector has to offer the same opportunities that public sector does, and more. More support to women at entry level, more avenues to grow to mid and top management levels, more personal development and more professional experience are very essential to enable women to have a meaningful role not only in private sector, but in business as a whole. This is where the government could encourage the private sector to promote women, train and mentor them in leadership roles, as well as also enact regulations in support of female entrepreneurship and women in business.

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