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United Arab Emirates female entrepreneurs: motivations and frustrations

Hanifa Itani (Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)
Yusuf M. Sidani (Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)
Imad Baalbaki (Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 28 June 2011




This paper seeks to summarize the results of a study assessing the status of United Arab Emirates (UAE) female entrepreneurs and attempts to sketch the pattern of the UAE female entrepreneur. It aims to draw a profile of typical UAE women entrepreneurs and their characteristics, outline the makeup of their entrepreneurial businesses, identify some barriers that women face at the startup stage, and in addition – their entrepreneurial motivations and driving forces, satisfactions and frustrations.


An interview‐based qualitative method was used. Structured interviews were conducted with 16 women entrepreneurs over a two‐month period. The contents of the interviews were analyzed and recurring themes were identified and highlighted.


The interviewed women seem to experience no conflicts between their entrepreneurial life and their personal, family, social, leisure, and friendship lives. However, although satisfied from being in business, they face some barriers at the startup of their venture, emanating mainly from the lack of support, society and traditions, and personal and family reasons.

Practical implications

There is a need to establish an appropriate institutional framework in collaboration with the supporters of UAE women entrepreneurs to identify business opportunities available for women and develop adequate financial and management training.


This study opens a window into an area of the world that has seldom been addressed before.



Itani, H., Sidani, Y.M. and Baalbaki, I. (2011), "United Arab Emirates female entrepreneurs: motivations and frustrations", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 409-424.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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