Dubai, August 29, 2009: 
From September 28-30, 2009, Dubai will host the first conference on "Arab Women in Science and Technology: Empowerment for the Development of the Arab World" (AWST). It will be held under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai and Honorary President of the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC). The conference is being organized by the Arab Science and Technology Foundation (ASTF) in conjunction with DBWC, a body working under the umbrella of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO).

On this occasion, Dr. Abdullah Abdul Aziz Al-Najjar, Arab Science and Technology Foundation (ASTF) President said: “The objective of holding the “Arab Women in Science and Technology: Empowerment for the Development of the Arab World,” which is the first-of-its-kind conference in the region, is to identify the level of scientific and technological research, the status of Arab women in this field, the outstanding role played by Arab women, and the creation of a template that will evolve into a system that gathers all Arab women working in the field of science and technology to increase the communication links, dialogue and interaction among them, and to establish a number of working groups to develop projects that serve Arab women.”

He stated that it was expected that more than 300 women would participate in the conference from various groups, including female scientists, researchers, inventors, businesswomen, entrepreneurs, and women occupying senior official positions. Those among the female participants include: Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya Bint Al-Hassan, Chair of the Board of the Princess Sumaya University for Technology and President of Royal Scientific Society (RSS) of Jordan; Dr. Farkhonda Hassan, Secretary General of the National Council for Women from Egypt; Dr. Moza Al-Rabban, Associate Physics Professor at Qatar University from Qatar; Dr. Nora Bint Abdullah Al-Fayez, Deputy Minister for Women Affairs at the Ministry of Education in Kingdom of  Saudi Arabia; Dr. Hayat Touchan, Professor of Botany - Field Crops Department, Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Aleppo, from Syria; Dr. Meshkan Al-Awar, Secretary General of Zayed International Prize for the Environment, from the United Arab Emirates; Dr. Amina Berraho, President of Hassan II Foundation for Ophthalmology, from Morocco; Dr. Samira Islam, Head of Drug Monitoring Unit King Abdulaziz University Hospital and King Fahd Medical Research Center, from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Dr. Nagwa Abdel Meguid Mohammed, Professor of Human Genetics at the National Research Center in Egypt and Coordinator of “AWARD” Network at ASTF; Dr. Nibal Idelbi, Chief of  ICT Application Section at the ESCWA, Lebanon; Dr. Rim Turkmani, Royal Society Research Fellow in Astrophysics at the Imperial College in London, United Kingdom; Dr. Linda Shepherd, author of "The Feminine Face of Science," from the United States of America; Dr. Fayzah Al-Kharafi, Al-Kharafi Group, from Kuwait; Dr. Sefat Salama, Science Journalist, Communicator and Researcher at the University of Glamorgan, United Kingdom, among many others.

Dr. Abdullah Abdul Aziz Al-Najjar affirmed that present period is witnessing a tremendous development of women's capabilities in science, technology and society. According to him, this was the reason that encouraged many private sector companies and institutions and organizations of civil society to undertake investment in female human capital on the training level to assist them occupy leadership positions, especially since many of the women have proven track records of high efficiency. Some experts, he said, have even named the economic sectors that are run by women "the economy of wisdom." This included the some of the most competitive sectors, which made the participation of women a real value addition. Dr Abdullah stressed the importance of exchanging expertise and experience for strengthening the female role in building the society of knowledge, to focus on vital issues and to close the knowledge gap between men and women, in line with the commitment of Arab States in the implementation of sustainable development plans, by strengthening the role of women and by enabling them to fully participate in the society of knowledge and decision-making areas at various levels. These are also some of the main topics that will be focused on in the conference. Dr Al-Najjar stressed that scientific and technological progress and upgrading the status of women are among the main pillars of development. "The importance of taking into account the gender dimension and including it in the field of knowledge and technology, in addition to the interest and support of the media in spreading awareness of the importance of the role of women in the development process and building the society of knowledge, cannot be overemphasized," he averred.

He added that the conference was an opportunity for the exchange of academic views and practical scientific experiences between women and men. The roll call of well-known Arab scientists and researchers taking part in the conference include Dr. Farouk El-Baz, Research Professor and Director at the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University, from the United States of America; Dr. Fathi H. Ghorbel, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Bioengineering at Rice University of Houston, from the United States of America; Dr. Fakhreddine Karray, Professor in the Department of  Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Waterloo, from Canada; Dr. Ibrahim El-Fadel, Senior Scientist at IBM System and Technology Group, Yorktown Heights in the United States of Amercia; Dr. Aly Zain El-Abidin Abdel Salam, Dean of  Faculty of Biotechnology at Misr University for Science and Technology (MUST), from Egypt; Dr. Mohammed H. Hassan, Executive Secretary of the Third World Academy of Scientists, from Italy; Dr. Eduardo Martinez, Chief of Science and Technology Strategic Planning Section at UNESCO, from France, besides a galaxy of other dignitaries.

Mrs. Raja Easa Al-Gurg, DBWC President, stressed on the importance of this unique conference, which reviews the progress of Arab women in a vital zone, that is the science and technology sector, at a time when women have made a name for themselves in spheres like education, medicine and business. Since Arab women are key partners in the development of their communities, they will succeed in creating new landmarks in the field of science and technology, just as they have managed to break into other areas. This is a result of their assuming responsibilities and fulfilling assigned tasks, she said. “Arab women have always shown and proven their abilities and efficiencies in every field,” she noted.

Al-Gurg said that the DBWC was always keen to have a permanent presence at conventions and conferences that contribute to the consolidation of the status of women and highlight their contributions in various areas. Therefore, she said, it is participating in organizing this conference. “It is a good opportunity for all businesswomen, whether from Dubai or from outside, to take advantage of the conference and access the latest studies, research and issues related to the technological and scientific sides of life. Businesswomen can also become connected positively to those involved in the technology sector to achieve the best knowledge and financial results," she noted.

Al-Gurg emphasized that businesswomen and entrepreneurs, prominent Arab female scientists, inventors and researchers in Arab countries and overseas, would attend the conference besides representatives of Arab, regional and international organizations. "This reflects the breadth of the thinking, the farness of the vision and the sincere desire that Arab women have to participate in the development process," she concluded.