Volunteering at Global Women’s Forum Dubai

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By Sarah Abdulsalam and Tarifah Bin Sulayem

Background on Global Women’s Forum Dubai

The Global Women’s Forum is a yearly event, almost always held in Deauville, France with micro-events in countries like Italy and Mexico. However, GWF Dubai was the first of its kind in the Middle East. The Dubai Women’s Establishment sought out volunteers, exclusively media students at ZU, giving us the opportunity to be a part of this high-profile event. This was also the DWE’s first time hosting an event, especially a large scale one. The event aimed to empower women and acknowledge women’s contributions to global development.

The Global Women’s Forum Dubai welcomed respected female leaders like Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, the Honorable Christine Lagarde and H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi to speak about women’s achievements and developments in media, energy production, government, space exploration and medical sciences.


The Art and Culture Hub at the Global Women’s Forum featured several interactive activities and artists. One was an innovative art mural done by artist Suzanne Mahfouz, a graduate from the American University in Sharjah. The innovative mural used art and technology to tell a story of Emirati women excelling in different fields, such as medicine, sports, aviation, media and law. By touching the lit-up points on the mural, you activate that part and it comes to life through sound and animation.

The second feature of the hub was coloring therapy books done by local artist Maryam Al Zaabi. Throughout the forum, guests would pop in and try out some coloring therapy. The hub also featured an infographics session, “Draw to Innovate,” with Maja Rottbøll, an illustrator. The session was very interactive as Rottbøll taught the basics of infographics and how to make them artistic, interesting and innovative.

Personally, as a volunteer, I really enjoyed working under the Cultural Office. Our leaders guided us and helped us throughout the event. I met so many people and representatives of companies that offer internships for students. Volunteering helps students enhance their work experience and get internship or work opportunities.


The gala dinner at Al Bastakiya introduced our international guests to the Emirati culture with five booths. Each booth highlighted a traditional aspect of the Emirati culture, such as bridal ceremonies, arts and crafts, dihn oud and perfume, pearls and clothing. The dinner also featured traditional sand art accompanied by Emirati music and dance.

I was stationed at the clothing section, which also served as a photo booth where the guests could dress up in traditional clothing and accessories and hold a live falcon in their photos. It was such a great experience meeting so many people from different cultures, wanting to learn about mine.

Working with the Cultural Office gave me the opportunity to meet interesting artists, innovators and leaders. Networking was also a great benefit to volunteering at events like Global Women’s Forum Dubai. As long as you were sociable, you could collect business cards and make connections.

What’s Next?

Sarah – If the event were to be held again, I would definitely volunteer.

Tarifah – Personally, I feel like I have enough experience with events. However, if something interesting comes my way, I would go for it.


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