Thursday, March 31, 2005

Women as Global Leaders Conference: Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Weston Town Crier

During my high school spring break, I went with my mother to the Women as Global Leaders Conference held by Zayed University, a girls' college, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I was somewhat nervous being the youngest of the 700 delegates from over 40 different countries. But age did not make a difference, I discovered once I arrived. I found it relatively easy to speak to a Nigerian woman whose daughter started a nonprofit organization in Nigeria, a California woman looking for a new job abroad, an Italian woman living in Abu Dhabi teaching at the university, a Moroccan woman who is a noted filmmaker, or a Harvard student in a PhD program presenting complex ideas at the conference. Of course, it was fun to watch their eyes enlarge as they smiled while simultaneously choking on pomegranate juice and a croissant when I revealed my real age.

The conference was held in a beautiful ancient trade city type resort right on the water of the Persian Gulf, beside the Barj al-Arab. Palm trees, traditional Islamic star-tessellations in lanterns and doorways, bridges, fountains, flowering vines and ocean water wound their way around this mini-village resort.

Among the speakers were the former prime ministers of Canada and Norway (both women) and Tipper Gore, wife of former Vice President Al Gore. First to speak at the opening ceremony was his Excellency, Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, minister of education for the country, and the president of Zayed University. Upon entrance of the Sheikh, everybody stood up, and his entourage of about 10 to 15 photographers and cameramen, as well as two companions, entered the room amidst everybody's clapping. I actually had the chance to talk with him at dinner and shake his hand; he was very eager to meet and talk to all of the delegates. He also attended my mother's presentation at the conference and asked her questions about her research.


The author, Alexandra Rahman, is a freshman at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.

For my more jaded take on the conference see my post here.


Anonymous Rhoda said...

Quite useful piece of writing, thanks for this post.

8:53 PM  

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