The Middle East's hospitality business is heavily reliant on expats. In the United Arab Emirates, people from 186 different countries live and work.
Thousands flock to the Middle Eastern countries searching for a tax-free haven and a comfortable life. Women have an edge in the hospitality sector since they can readily fit into various segments and roles.
Dubai has risen to prominence as a global shopping and tourism destination in the previous decade. However, other GCC nations are gradually preparing to compete for the top spot as a tourism destination in West Asia. In recent years, women have risen to the top levels in the organizations and are now operating thriving tourism SMEs in the Middle East.
Women are favored in a few departments in commercial organizations and the government sector. In the Middle East, 21 percent of tourism ministers are women, compared to 23 percent globally. Despite the fact that more women are moving into middle and senior management roles in tourism in the Middle East, men still outweigh women.
Tourism is an essential economic pillar in various Middle Eastern nations, with almost 61 million international visitor visits and over USD 80 billion in global tourism profits in 2019.
Because of its potential to provide productive employment and decent labor, particularly for women and youth, tourism is seen as a vital industry for supporting the economic transformation and inclusive development goals of many governments in the region.
Hozpitality.com contacted women Leaders in the hotel sector about the importance of International Womens Day, the income disparity between men and women, concerns about combating negative feminism, gender gap and barriers of being a woman.
Gender Balance Council under the leadership of H.H. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum declared they would soon be announcing a gender balance strategy to close the gap between men and women in the UAE.
Natalie Litowtschik works as Commercial Director at Intercontinental Ras Al Khaimah. She has 20+ years of service hospitality experience, predominantly as a Commercial Leader.
Natalie believes that celebrating and encouraging other women to be at their best every single day, is driving all to achieve more; hence it's important to mark International Women's Day.
Natalie believes the gender inequality and pay gap are slowly but surely moving in the right direction. She says, "I must admit that in the MEA, women often are ahead or in line with the package scale of men."
When asked about combating feminism and negative perceptions, particularly in the workplace, Natalie says, "Be powerful with friendliness. People like to support people that are kind and people they like. Kindness will always win without mentioning the word feminism but still getting what you want."
So far, Natalie has never faced any challenges in her career because of being a woman.
An essential piece of advice Natalie has ever received is, "Sometimes, it's better to sit out a situation and wait for reactions rather than rebelling."
When asked who she believes is in charge of addressing women's issues, Natalie says, "Every woman herself and everyone around her is responsible for that."
Diyana Chimlyarova is working as Operations Manager in GROMAXX Hotels Management. Her last role was Cluster Director of Sales and Marketing.
Diyana believes it's important to celebrate women and their role in Society on this occasion and every day. However, International women's day gives us an opportunity to highlight Women's achievements, the advantages of their diverse nature, and their pivotal role in the modern economy as a conquest against biases.
Diyana thinks Education is at the core of fighting biases in any form, including those related to cultural gender stereotypes. Women have been moving to key roles in different organizations in the past ten years, proving that gender stereotyping is nothing more than fiction. As a female leader, it is important to ensure that cultural stereotypes are explained and well understood at every level of the organization and that training is in place to explain to employees how to navigate their own cultural biases.
Diyana says, "I don't think that there are many negative stereotypes of feminism, but addressing stereotyping based on race, gender, and religion is a topic that all organizations of all kinds need to deal with on a daily basis. For me, the most effective way is Raising awareness and educating people about their own potential biases."
"As a part of the millennial generation, I believe that I have been lucky enough to live in a time where social media and mass communications allow women to confront many issues we are discussing todayallowing other women to benefit from their effort. I have been lucky enough to have the chance to work for an organization that values performance above all, and I believe that this is a recipe for success for any organization."
The most important advice to Diyana was given to her by her boss."My boss once told me something about the hospitality industry, which I very much follow in my daily life as well, and it has proven to be the best advice I ever received.
- Don't take things for granted; things don't just happen. You must make them happen!
Women themselves must learn yet to be more practical and speak up for themselves responsible for taking action on women's issues.
To address gender stereotypes, Diyana says, "Education will be my go-to tool to fight gender stereotypes. The most significant challenge will be getting the small organization to recognize the importance of gender equality to their bottom line. To get proof, you need to give it a try first."
Shashi Shetty works as Regional Director of Sales, Middle East, Africa Turkey, Sales Marketing for Ascott International Management in Dubai.
Shashi believes it's important to celebrate women's day to recognize the achievement of all women in this world when women face many challenges in areas such as gender gap, educational and career growth, raise awareness about women's inequality.
She says, "We are pursuing and strengthening our initiatives / will to promote and recruit more women in key positions. We also introduced transparency in compensation, recognition, rewards, and promotions."
Shashi believes Education, training, and motivation effectively can counteract the negative stereotypes of feminism.
When asked if Shashi has ever faced the gender stereotype, Shashi says, "Yes, I faced many times such challenges; for example, I came from a rural area of India. When I got an opportunity to work in the hospitality industry, I was told Hotel Industry is not the right industry for women. I better select another sector where I can work in the office where I don't face any customer or guest.
Shashi's advice for the women in the industry is to,"Be Fearless and convert every challenge into an opportunity."
Shashi says,"Every woman, man, and child is responsible for taking action on women's issues by supporting one another, raising their concerns, sharing the workload, and knowing their rights. At the same time, she believes the Society and a country's constitution are also responsible for the same.
To address the gender stereotype, Shashi says,"There should be an open discussion with family, friends, and even the workplace. All kids must be given equal opportunity in Education and every task. Ask questions if there are any issues. We need to raise voices and challenge events. I don't see many women representing or heading the family/society/workplace/community/Country. Therefore, I see the difficulties in decision-making, and women are still neglected in many areas.
Swati Anand works as H.R. Training Manager at Dusit Thani Dubai. She believes women have an advantage in hospitality. She says if they are capable, they can easily make their way to the top.
Not all women rise from a level playing field even today. The celebration is an excellent way to acknowledge those who thrive against the odds and remind ourselves to promote equality and equity.
The societal concerns contributing to the income disparity between men and women have reduced with time. The UAE just took a leap in the right direction by adding a provision to their labour law against discriminatory corporate practices. Patriarchy will continue to be frowned upon and become obsolete over time. CSR initiatives such as celebrating Women's Day helps to create awareness and further this cause.
If we talk about the most effective strategies for combating feminism's negative perceptions, particularly in the workplace, Swati says,"Statistics aside, I don't think the hospitality sector suffers from such stereotyping. If anything, women enjoy greater leverage in our industry. I see them on par with men in all departments."
Swati says she has not faced any barriers because of being a woman at all. "I have always been at an advantage for being one."
Swati says the essential piece of advice she has ever received,"It wasn't advice and unrelated to gender, just wise words that make more sense with each passing day - "what you fret over today will become trivial in hindsight."
When asked who she believes is in charge of addressing women's issues, Swati says,"Society as a whole. Governments, corporates, communities, families, and individuals. I have seen many men embracing the cause. I was raised by parents who treated their two daughters no different than the boys."
To address gender stereotypes, Swati says, "Women are shattering those conventions quite well across the board, and stereotyping has become pass and economically unviable. One runs the risk of missing and losing talent due to prejudice."
Gender bias still exists in certain cultures where it is deeply ingrained by religious beliefs, traditions, and societal pressure to confirm. Overcoming long-held faith and opinions are the biggest challenge.
Joy Oliva San Mateo works as Cluster Human Resources Manager ADNH Hotels. Prior to moving to Abu Dhabi, Joy has worked with prestigious brands like Jumeirah, Kempinski, etc.
Marking International Women's Day is important toacknowledge woman's power and to establish gender equality. Joy says, Here in the Middle East, we do not experience the cultural gender and pay gap. We receive equal opportunities, especially if you work in international brands with solid policies and procedures looking for and promoting equal and fair treatment.
When asked about how we can combat feminism's negative perceptions, Joysays, "Effective ways to counteract the negative stereotypes of feminism are by looking at them and treating each individual equally.
Joy,so far, did not face any barriers in her career for being a woman because most she has worked for is giving equal opportunity to all. Joy'sadvice to fellow women workers in the industry is: Making and Developing Great talents, create good leaders.
When asked who she believes is in charge of addressing women's issues, Joy says, "In the hospitality industry, especially in hotels, Human Resources is responsible for all associates, not only women, looking for fair treatment."
To address the gender stereotypes, look at all associates individual skills developing, polish and great talents.So far, we didn't have any challenges in our properties as we are looking for their welfare from time to time.
Sana Boukali works as Director of Sales Marketing at Grand Swiss-Belhotel Waterfront in Bahrain. Sana has over 11 years of experience in Starwood Hotels Resorts / Marriott International. A passionate professional with expertise in account management, market study, and creative selling.
For Sana, dealing with different types of people from different cultures and nationalities increased her market understanding and led her to meet most of my client's expectations.
According to Sana, "We celebrate women's day to honor women's accomplishments and raise awareness about the importance of gender equality, mainly in some countries where women are not granted the same rights and privileges.
Sana thinks that the gap is more cultural than financial, and gender discrimination requires a cultural change from the bottom up! Starting by rejecting any cultural or religious practice that violates women's right to putting in place a legal framework that recognize the gender equality in accordance with international standards.
The most effective way to counteract the negative stereotypes of feminism, especially in the workplace, is to empower the women by giving them a fair chance to compete, respect their opinions, and recognize their efforts.
Sana has not faced any barriers in her career due to being a woman. She says, "I am lucky to be raised by a strong woman who taught me how to be persisting and claim my rights at work. Additionally, I am grateful for working for multinational companies (Starwood, Marriott, Accor, and Swiss-Bel International) where women are empowered and encouraged to succeed.
The most important advice Sana has received is to chase her dream and never stop learning.
Sana feels the Governments have the primary responsibility, then companies, organizations, and people should take major actions to improve women's lives.
Unfortunately, Gender stereotypes continue to exist and negatively impact women's careers. However, self-improvement and self-discipline are key factors for women seeking empowerment and freedom.
When asked how the most significant challenges will occur in the workplace, Sana says, "Since the main issue is either cultural or religious (sometimes both), we should agree on the complexity of changing culture with individual beliefs and cultural values. I think by combining legislation with individual efforts of organizations associations, the only remaining challenge would be TIME."
Olga Alvarez, studied Accountancy, CHRMP and NLP. She's been in Dubai since 2005. She's currently working with Revier Hotels and has worked in local and international luxury chains like Rotana, Accor, Starwood, Melia, and Deutsche Hospitality.
For Olga, International Womens Day is to celebrate all the good work women do, both visible and invisible! For over 100 years, we still have had the same message: to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and mark a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
Some countries might still be far from this gender pay gap and my advice to address this matter is to Unionize workplaces. However, as an H.R.Practitioner in UAE, the employers and H.R. representatives here have taken steps to correct the gender pay gap within the workplace. We have a budget that indicates the salary for all the positions regardless of gender.
Olga believes Genderequality and diversity arethe most effective strategies for combating feminism's negative perceptions, particularly in the workplace. Olga has not faced any challenges in your career due to her gender. The essential piece of advice Olga has ever received was from her parents, "Everything will be ok."
"Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure." Oprah Winfrey
Olga believesAll of usare in charge of addressing women's issues.Support One Another. To Raise our voice. Create Awareness.
Olga says, By educating next generation, we can endgender stereotypes. The most significant challenges will occur when we stop child marriage and violence against women."
Hozpitality.com wishes Happy International Day to all the women in the world. May you be powerful. May you be successful. May you rise and lead today and forever!