Champagne, chandeliers and toastmasters might seem a long way away from the world inhabited by Arab women. Indeed, the City might seem an odd sort of place for Arab women to converge. And, as venues go, Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London, might seem stranger still. But it was to this grandest of Georgian houses that some 300 Arab women, not least Sheikha Lubna al-Qasimi, Arabia’s first female economy minister, repaired on Thursday for a ‘celebration dinner’. Their mission? Not only to foster links with Britain’s commercial heart but to prove that, from Morocco to Oman, women, in this field at least, are beginning to take the lead. ‘If you look at the history of Islam, even the Prophet Muhammad married a businesswoman,’ said al-Qasimi, who holds what is regarded as the most important cabinet post in the United Arab Emirates. ‘Khadija was her name, she was his boss and she recruited him to work with her,’ she smiled, as the likes of Cherie Blair worked the distinctly veil-less crowd. ‘The West always looks at the veil as a stigma and I think that’s the number one problem,’ she added, adjusting her […]

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