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Kuwait News Agency - March 6, 2007 by Mahdi Nimr Sheikha Dr. Hessa Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah asserted here on Monday the importance of exchanging expertise and information between the various economic blocs as well as taking advantage of the available investment atmospheres for women in Kuwait. Sheikha Hessa was speaking before the International Forum of Women Entrepreneurs. She said that today's economies heavily rely on the deep-rooted ties and cooperation in a world heading towards globalization based on open markets and mutual trade investment. The Kuwaiti businesswomen pointed to the role of women projects in the economic development especially for economic decision makers or those doubting the women's role in the economic growth in the societies. Sheikha Hessa pointed to the Kuwaiti economy which she described as being free and unbiased against women. She added that Kuwait is ranked 57th out of 161 countries having a free economy according to international specialized classifications. She said that Kuwait's economy had recorded nearly 63.7 percent among the other free economies according to an evaluation that was conducted in 2007 with a 1.1 percent hike. She said that Kuwait's exports had stood at nearly USD 33.5 billion of crude oil and other petroleum substances, as its imports recorded USD 18.5 billion. Sheikha Hessa said that the Kuwaiti economy has managed to found an enhanced monetary system according to the international standards, thanks to the banking services the country renders. She pointed to a number of obstacles hindering the women's projects including the weak government support, absence of appropriate mechanisms to secure such women participation, besides negligence of shedding light on successful projects. The theme of Sheikha Hessa's speech was "The Role of Women-Run Ventures in Economic Growth". Around 1,000 business meetings are expected to be held throughout the two-day forum, said Bonino, noting this was the first-time such a politics-free event was held. The forum is attended by some 450 businesswomen, at least 250 of whom are from southern Mediterranean countries and the Middle East. Eighteen countries are participating in the forum, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Turkey. Furthermore, the forum welcomed announcement of Sheikha Hessa to host the gathering in Kuwait next year. Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi described the initiative as "very significant". He said this initiative reflects keenness of the participants, especially those from the Mediterranean and Italy, on the importance of the main role of women in the development of societies. For her part, Italian Minister for International Trade Emma Bonino thanked the state of Kuwait for accepting to host the forum in Kuwait next year. She expressed hope the forum in Kuwait would also succeed in achieving rapprochement between the Italian and Kuwaiti companies owned by women.

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