The situation in the UAE is very different from in neighbouring Saudi Arabia where opportunities for women are quite restricted. For example, in Saudi Arabia women are not permitted to drive and men and women do not mingle in public.
However, there is an increasing sense of entrepreneurship amongst Gulf women, which means that conditions have changed considerably in the past ten years or so. The UAE is the leading country in the Gulf region in this respect.
There are quite a few female leaders/directors of larger companies and few are participating actively in politics and have been appointed Ministers in the Federal Government. For example, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, wife of the late President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has established and is President of the General Women's Union (GWU) and is chairperson for the Family Development Foundation. Another example is the Minister of State, Reem Al Hashimy who is also the managing director of Dubai’s 2020 Expo and chairperson for Dubai Cares, a charity for improving access to education for children in developing countries, the Emirates Competitiveness Council which aims to promote sustainable growth and prosperity for the UAE and the National Bureau of Statistics.
More profiles of successful women from the GCC and Middle East can be found on Arabian Business’ report, World’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Women: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/the-world-s-100-most-powerful-arab-women-541034.html