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MENA Female Empowerment: The UK tech business helping to break the bias for women in the Arab world and diversify the region

MENA Female Empowerment: The UK tech business helping to break the bias for women in the Arab world and diversify the region 1

By Katherine Ellis, COO, WOLF (The World’s Online Festival) explains how female empowerment can play its part in the diversification ambitions of the Middle East and North Africa

MENA Female Empowerment: The UK tech business helping to break the bias for women in the Arab world and diversify the region 2

Katherine Ellis, COO, WOLF (The World’s Online Festival)

This International Women’s Day, we want to put the spotlight on women, in particular those living in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In this region, there is a positive shift happening in cultural attitudes, while concurrently the area is actively looking to move away from traditional revenues in its economy. This makes the region an incredibly interesting proposition for new opportunities – and embracing the female talent there is crucial. 

Although we are a UK tech company, we operate our core business across the MENA region. For many it may not be the most obvious territory to start with, but for us it’s been a decision that has led us to exceed our business ambitions after launching our new brand two years ago.

MENA is undergoing a number of commercial and societal changes as it strives to diversify away from oil. You can see this in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with its ‘Vision 2030’ project that focuses in part on investment in entertainment. A report by PwC highlighted that digital revenue is expected to make up 46% of total entertainment and media revenue in MENA by 2024.

Internet access and mobile technology have become more freely available, generating awareness and expectations for the youth demographic which is leading to a huge change within the region. This is particularly true for women, who were only permitted to have a driver’s license in Saudi Arabia four years ago. This is a region now starting to burst with creative energy.

A key component of our offering is that WOLF facilitates female empowerment. Technology has enabled women to have a voice, be part of a community, create meaningful relationships and have fun – all whilst abiding by their local customs and laws. These societal changes are helping drive an increasing appetite for women to have a platform for self-expression as well as support fellow females.

We are seeing this being embraced by the women in Saudi Arabia with females making up 58% of WOLF’s users and more than half of our MENA workforce. We are living proof that progression is happening in the region – it’s not just a discussion. This change is having a meaningful impact on women. WOLF is passionate about the advancement, celebration and empowerment of women and wants to play its role in helping to remove parity barriers.

The Empowering Women’s Festival that Breaks The Bias

This International Women’s Day we wanted to create something that helps break the bias – this year’s theme – and celebrate the changes women have achieved to date.

WOLF’s  ‘Alhan Women’s Talent Festival’ – which launches on International Women’s Day – is the first festival of its kind in the Arab region that highlights the talents of MENA women in the fields of singing, poetry, and podcasting, while in a safe environment.

The festival aims to put a spotlight on MENA women; celebrating the contribution that women in the region can make in a journey of self-discovery as performers and entertainers. The Alhan Festival provides female singers, poets and podcasters in the region with an opportunity to pursue their dreams of becoming audio content creation stars.

The winner, depending on their category, will win the opportunity to publish their own poetry book, produce their own song or set up industry-leading podcast equipment in their own studio.

This is the second festival of its kind. In 2021, the festival attracted almost 1,000 entries and the winners went on to perform on a stage in the app with Arab superstar singer Yara.

The future of MENA is incredibly exciting. It presents a whole spectrum of opportunities for both foreign and domestic investment but more importantly for women who live there and want to celebrate their increasing freedoms. With the government-backed investment in entertainment and female empowerment in Saudi Arabia, the next decade will be compelling for those looking to expand into the area – and for women, this is just the start.

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