Muna Al Gurg, the director of retail at Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group LLC defines herself as a businesswoman rather than an entrepreneur. She is part of the second generation of the business conglomerate that was built in 1962 by her father. He has been her prime source of inspiration as he started his life in a post office in Dubai – his story has always left the family in awe. Of how much a person can accomplish if they truly believe in their dreams and work hard to achieve them.

But being a woman in a vital position of power in the middle-east comes with its own set of hurdles – an inherent cultural constraint being one of them.

“Although the country has grown incredibly and our leaders are huge advocates of women’s rights, this does not always resonate to all households.”

“Women have it tough quite often as their families may allow them to study and work, but with certain limitations. Although the country has grown incredibly and our leaders are huge advocates of women’s rights, this does not always resonate to all households. This, however, is slowly changing and we all must put an effort to help one another as women,” she elaborates, on a positive note.

Muna is the chairwoman of Young Arab Leaders UAE and under her leadership, the team has impacted over 700 entrepreneurs within Young Arab Leaders through their workshops. She feels mentorship is not just important but crucial to an entrepreneur.

“I’m deeply gratified when I see a young entrepreneur start from scratch and see their business grow exponentially. We’ve seen the impact of successful people guiding young entrepreneurs, it helps to have someone out of your circle with the right expertise guide you.”

The alumnus of London Business School is also a philanthropist on the board of several non-profit organizations.  As a child, she remembers hearing her father discuss philanthropic projects and ideas with the family. They would usually be about digging wells in villages where people suffered water shortages or building schools in remote parts of the world. These shaped her adult perceptions of the importance of giving and developing a solutions led mindset.

“My baby project was the building of a school for primary children in a village in Zanzibar, Africa – to start with the children did not have a school to go to. We now have 300 students in the school.”

She adds, “I’m now fortunate to be part of the Al Gurg Foundation’s board where we develop our global strategy to maximise our philanthropic impact. My baby project was the building of a school for primary children in a village in Zanzibar, Africa – to start with the children did not have a school to go to. We now have 300 students in the school.”

Muna Al Gurg at Zanzibar
Businesswomen Muna Al Gurg at Zanzibar

Working in one’s family’s business group inevitably means leaving one’s feelings at the door. Muna’s policy has always been that diplomacy gets you places. In her 15 years with the Al Gurg Group, she has set up a full-fledged marketing team with in-house social and digital media. She also works closely on their CSR initiatives and employee training.

She informs, “My love for branding has left me in awe of brand Dubai, quite honestly. I have a great deal of respect of the way Dubai has put itself on the map both regionally and globally. At the Al Gurg Group we recently signed a contract to take on a space at the hub of design ‘D3’ – Dubai Design District. This space, we believe, will put us on a global footing when it comes to design for our home lifestyle brands.”

Her one word of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs is to listen – “you can learn so much by listening to what others have to say, particularly the people you look up to.”

The Muna Al Gurg scholarship stems from her belief in the incredible potential of Arab women.

Muna’s personal experience of studying for her MBA at London Business School was so rewarding that she thought why not allow other women to learn and grow. The Muna Al Gurg scholarship stems from her belief in the incredible potential of Arab women.

“I am very proud of the first graduate Shayma Al Terkait who works at Microsoft and has a dream to become the first female CEO of Microsoft Middle East. Her ambition and drive have made me realise how much more I’d like to do for Arab women. In the future, I aim towards building an education fund that impacts more women globally.”

Image Credit: national.ae

Read More by Amrita Paul