Bahraini royal-UAE businesswoman looks to invest €50B in the Indian market
Believing in the philosophy of business for good, Shaikha Jawaher Al Khalifa—a Bahraini royal and businesswoman from the UAE—recently announced a €50 billion fund to invest in different projects in India with a larger aim of empowering women.
Part Bahraini, part Emirati—HH Shaikha Jawaher Al Khalifa believes she got the best of two worlds. A member of the royal family of Bahrain, Shaikha Jawaher grew up in the UAE and is aware of the immense privilege and opportunities her title has brought her.
She is the Founder and Chairperson of Dubai-based, with interests in real estate, commodity trading, oil and gas, footwear investment management, startup support, marketing and advertising, trade, and product distribution, along with ecommerce.
“I was blessed to be born with a name that gives me value. It’s also my duty to use this name to help others,” she says.
However, her privilege as a royal did not make entrepreneurship an easy choice. Shaikha Jawaher has always been an outlier, moving away from the path that was “drawn out for her”.
She explains, “Coming from a conservative Arab family, a path was drawn for me to follow. I was supposed to either choose medicine, architecture, or law at university. I rejected all three and chose political science in the beginning, hoping for a career as a diplomat.”
However, she had to finally tread different paths, changing her major to international relations, then public relations, and finally, business management.
“I was fighting to prove that I wanted to be my own self,” she adds.
In the meantime, she volunteered at different local events and turned her passion towards women and youth empowerment.
Besides her business interests, Shaikha Jawaher believes empowering women translates into empowering entire families to succeed. For the youth, she initiated an innovation centre in Abu Dhabi to facilitate the translation of new ideas into businesses.
“We hear their ideas, help them raise funds, and provide them with access to mentorship, skilling, and guidance. I am also part of the Global Youth Business Club, which introduces young entrepreneurs and their businesses to the global market,” she says.
According to Shaikha Jawaher, in the beginning, her “name and connections” have helped open doors for people to succeed. Her job is to stay with young entrepreneurs until the connections are made and a business partnership is forged, post which, her role is over.
In the UAE, she has helped young innovators work with entities like the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and Dubai Tourism Authority, among others.
Business and social change
Shaikha Jawaher, who believes business and social change must go hand-in-hand, was recently invited to invest in the Philippines by Vice President Sara Duterte.
She will also help women in the country’s prisons with skills to make clothes and bags. “We will sell whatever the women make and use the money to support their families,” she adds.
Now, she is extending her “business for good” philosophy to India and has announced a €50 billion fund to invest in various projects and initiatives.
“I believe in partnering with strong, like-minded women entrepreneurs who step beyond their family legacy and want to create a difference in the lives of women,” she says.
“Among them is Dipika Patel of the Patel Family Office. Patel supports various women’s initiatives, and I believe the country will open the right doors for me to invest,” Shaikha Jawaher adds.
She also emphasises that her vision for India will include uplifting women and families through various projects while investing in government projects, education, water conservation, and environment-related ventures.
After her initial visit in February, Shaikha Jawaher is planning to visit India again in May to travel to different cities to understand first-hand what women need and how best her fund could help them.
She’s also thankful for the opportunities afforded to the women in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
“We are seeing so many women achievers in the region because they have numerous opportunities, support, and the right tools to succeed. Most importantly, the government’s respect and belief in women are taking them places,” she says.
Shaikha Jawaher aims to take every capable woman to a global stage, see her succeed, and explore how women entrepreneurs from all over can forge fruitful partnerships.
“My expertise lies in connecting people… and this is what I will continue to do,” she adds.
(The copy has been updated to add another designation - Chairperson)
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Edited by Suman Singh