Every listed firm in the United Arab Emirates has been directed to have at least a female director on its board following a meeting on Sunday by the Securities and Commodities Authority.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai twitted immediately after the meeting.
“Women proved themselves in many workplaces and today we want them to have a strong presence in decision-making positions in our institutions,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted.
The regulator’s Chief Executive Officer Obaid Saif Al Zaabi, “We previously used to accept explanations if there wasn’t compliance, but now we are moving to make female representation compulsory.”
“So now there must be at least one female member on the board of any listed company,” added Obaid Saif Al Zaabi.
The move comes after the Gulf nation’s central bank signed a memorandum of understanding with Aurora50, a firm focused on gender-balanced boardrooms, to work toward raising the number of women on the boards of both public and private companies in the UAE.
The Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) held a conference last month on the topic, discussing how to increase female representation on boards; women hold only 1.5% of board positions in listed companies in the GCC.
Shamsa Saleh, the DWE chief executive, said the Cabinet decision was “the most important news in the history of Dubai Women Establishment”.
“We recommended this policy last month in our forum and it’s been implemented this month,” she said.
“It means that we have succeeded and Sheikh Mohammed is very happy about it.”
The decision was made at a Cabinet meeting to approve a draft law on small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
As well as tweeting about women’s representation on company boards, Sheikh Mohammed also used the social media tool to outline various other components of the new law.
He said it included the establishment of a SME council and the provision of incentives in several areas to business owners. He did not say what these were.
The law also aims to “prepare a new generation of financially independent Emirati businessmen so they can contribute to our economy,” he tweeted.
Addressing the young people of the UAE, he said he held big ambitions for them.
“Your small businesses will grow and you will be the future leaders of the private sector,” he wrote.