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Dubai Business Women Council Comes Together To Support Members During The COVID-19 Crisis Many DBWC members came to the financial and emotional rescue of their fellow members during the COVID-19 crisis.

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

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You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Established in 2002 under the umbrella of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC) has been continuously committed to launching important initiatives to help women gain a competitive edge in the business community.

Only in 2019, the council ventured into several successful partnerships that led to it hosting over 50 workshops, three major forums, monthly training courses on topics ranging from financial planning to cyber security, as well as an #IamRemarkable Google initiative that discussed inclusion and diversity in the workplace. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has effectively negated the occurrence of all such forums and activities for the foreseeable future, but DBWC President H.E. Dr. Raja Al Gurg hasn't let that dampen the organization's mission. "DBWC members will be provided with all forms of support and assistance, and will be equipped with necessary knowledge and skills to help them get through this critical period," Al Gurg said.

It is this ethos that has underlined the efforts made by DBWC Business Development Manager Nadine Halabi and her team for the organization's members over the course of this pandemic. "At the earlier stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, many of our members kept asking us if we were going to cancel our major events for March and April," Halabi said. "For the safety of our members and the business community at large, we decided to postpone all our activities until further notice. We kept our communication with our members clear and transparent, and avoided any messaging that generated any panic. We replaced all our face-to-face meetings with video or tele conferences, and followed all the precautionary steps imposed by the government." At the same time, the DBWC team came up with new initiatives to continue supporting its members. ""We reached out to our partners, and asked whether they were interested to provide support and online webinars to our business community," Halabi explained. "We worked closely with our partners and thoroughly selected content that would appeal to a diverse audience, and ensured coverage of practical as well as soft skills material. In this way, everyone would benefit from what is being offered.''

DBWC Business Development Manager Nadine Halabi
Source: DBWC

This has led to DBWC cooperating with a number of industry partners, such as Women@Work, Emirates Literature Foundation, and Entrepreneur Middle East to provide business resources and special offers to its members, while also entering into into four new strategic partnerships with Edelman Middle East, American University of Dubai – EMBA, The Ameliorate Group, and Kompass Consultancy. These efforts have resulted in DBWC organizing a total of 51 webinars scheduled to be implemented throughout March, April, and May. On a more holistic level, the unbreakable bond of family and community created within DBWC has never seemed more imperative. With many of its own members coming to the financial and emotional rescue of fellow members, the sisterhood that prevails within the council is an aspect that shines through during such bleak times, Halabi said. ""Many of our members, who own startups and SMEs, have come to us, willing to offer support to other businesses," she noted. "Some shared articles, while others offered free webinars on different types of business support topics. We have seen so many trailblazing and successful business women come to us with their willingness to share information and best practices that could support their fellow businesswomen who are struggling in that space. It has been engaging and very uplifting to see such positive and hopeful actions come through."

Related: Reaping The Rewards: The MENA Region's Female Entrepreneurs

Halabi also point out that this surreal phase has brought DBWC members closer than ever. ""It has brought families together, and made many of us more appreciative of all the things we had, but never valued," she said. "Personally, I think that virtual tools such as Microsoft Teams and apps such as Zoom, which are being used by most of us these days for personal and professional purposes, did bring us all together on various levels. These tools have become a resource for our day-to-day communication at work, and a support system for many of us on a personal level. Videos of many of us working remotely with some featuring our children and pets have added a positive touch to our virtual meetings, and gave everything we do together a more empathetic feel to it. We exchange recipes, jokes, news alerts, and music, all of which provide some kind of emotional support and connection.''

The manner in which DBWC has performed amid the COVID-19 crisis can be seen as a blueprint for other businesses and organizations to take to heart, especially when considering its focus on human connections forged over the years, and on creating an environment of trust and goodwill. ""Our employees and team members want to feel heard, and they want to know that they matter," Halabi noted. "As managers and bosses, it is our duty to make them feel that we trust them, and that we support them despite these challenging times. A simple reminder of letting them know that they are doing a great job and still making an impact on our members, partners, and community at large is more than enough to keep them motivated during these testing times.''

Related: Entrepreneur Middle East's Achieving Women 2017: Dr. Raja Al Gurg

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is particularly keen on writing stories involving people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.

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