Amanda Perry, Managing Director, Licensing & Structuring, Vitality.

(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

Reporter: Krysia McKechnie
Section: BZ
Amanda Perry identified a need for a female-only business accelerator. Reem Mohammed/The National

A female-only business accelerator wants to harness women’s innate teamwork

While huge strides have been made towards achieve equality at work, there were many depressing signs in 2017 that the level of sexism in business remains high.

From revelations about the BBC gender pay gap to claims of sexual assault by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, it seems women are still having to work harder and overcome more hurdles than their male counterparts.

Amanda Perry, a British expatriate living in Dubai for over 10 years, was already running a successful business helping entrepreneurs with the legalities of setting up a business in the UAE when she noticed a gap in the market for a female-only business accelerator. Amanda, 42, says her clients were finding it hard to set up businesses because of a lack of support.

“I realised that instead of just helping clients with the legal aspects of business set-up, what female entrepreneurs needed was a holistic system in place to assist them on a continued basis,” she says.

Along with her business partner, Zag Asghar, Amanda set up Vitality, an enterprise offering business advice and support purely to female business owners.

Amanda says what sets them apart from their competitors is their long-term assistance, networking and access to specialists. Her company and clients sign up to a 12-month commitment to work together.


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Amanda is convinced this combination of support and accountability to someone is the reason for Vitality’s success so far. “So many clients have said that this intensive support is the reason they are able to keep going with their ideas,” she says.

In April this year, a study published by Crunchbase, the data collection company, reported that only 17 per cent of startups have a female founder. When compared to earlier data, this appears to show a plateau, with no increase over the last five years. In the UAE, conditions for female entrepreneurship are favourable, but they still lag behind male rates of business ownership.

Amanda and her partner are out to change this and channel the natural side effects of women working together into a creating successful businesses. Amanda says: "Women work differently to men. They are more collaborative and supportive of each other in business.

“We want to harness this innate teamwork to help female entrepreneurs succeed.”

There are charges for Vitality’s services, but they try to structure them in such a way that it doesn’t deter would-be entrepreneurs. Applying a sliding-scale approach allows businesses to get off the ground without being charged heavy fees in the early stages.

“Once our clients start to see an increase in turnover, the fees increase accordingly up to a fixed level,” she says.

“We only take on clients that we feel have a strong chance of success as we’re also invested in their business.

“If they don’t make money, we don’t get paid.”

Vitality is currently working with 11 female-led businesses, both start-ups and more established companies, as well as foreign companies branching out to the UAE. They project that they will have 25-30 entrepreneurs in residence by the end of the first quarter of 2018.

At full capacity they have space for 50 clients. But finding the right premises was much more difficult than the founders anticipated.

“We needed to make sure we had space for all the specialist services we are bringing together under one roof and for our clients to come in and work with us,” Amanda says.

The team also have a play area on site where kids can be entertained if childcare falls through. While being clear about the fact they are not a substitute for regular childcare, Amanda takes a pragmatic approach. “We’ve made provision for the times when there’s a clash between being a mum and being an entrepreneur,” she says.

“We want to make this work for women, as opposed to making women fit into a corporate box. The two can coexist.”

Gender balance in the workplace is a hot topic right now in the UAE, with the creation of a Gender Balance council and backing from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the recent launch of the Gender Balance guide.

But achieving this balance can be difficult.

Veronique Ademar, executive coach and partner at Dubai-based career development and executive coaching practice The Pathway Project, points out that while both sexes can benefit from mentoring, it's more often women that can suffer from self-doubt and who can therefore gain a lot from coaching.

“As women, we usually have to juggle many things at the same time and on top of that we are constantly ‘eaten up’ by self-doubt and asking ourselves, ‘am I good enough?’, ‘can I really do this?’,” she says. “Mentoring will help [women] with their decision-making process and reduce their feeling of isolation, helping to avoid the many pitfalls of having a newly established business.”

Do women really need this extra help? “Starting a business is a lonely and often isolating experience, this is the same for men and women. But women are often more likely to reach out for help unlike their male counterparts. We’re choosing to focus on women as this is where I feel we can make the most the difference,” Amanda says.

UK - UAE Trade

Total trade in goods and services (exports plus imports) between the UK and the UAE in 2022 was £21.6 billion (Dh98 billion). 

This is an increase of 63.0 per cent or £8.3 billion in current prices from the four quarters to the end of 2021.


The UAE was the UK’s 19th largest trading partner in the four quarters to the end of Q4 2022 accounting for 1.3 per cent of total UK trade.


Display: 6.7” flexible Amoled, 2412 x 1080, 394ppi, 120Hz, Corning Gorilla Glass 5

Processor: MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro, 4nm, octa-core

Memory: 8/12GB

Capacity: 128/256GB

Platform: Android 14, Nothing OS 2.5

Main camera: Dual 50MP main, f/1.88 + 50MP ultra-wide, f/2.2; OIS, EIS, auto-focus, ultra XDR, night mode

Main camera video: 4K @ 30fps, full-HD @ 60fps; slo-mo full-HD at 120fps

Front camera: 32MP wide, f/2.2

Battery: 5000mAh; 50% in 30 mins w/ 45w charger

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Google Pay)

Biometrics: Fingerprint, face unlock


Durability: IP54, limited protection from water/dust

Cards: Dual-nano SIM

Colours: Black, milk, white

In the box: Nothing Phone (2a), USB-C-to-USB-C cable, pre-applied screen protector, SIM tray ejector tool

Price (UAE): Dh1,199 (8GB/128GB) / Dh1,399 (12GB/256GB)

The biog

Name: Mariam Ketait

Emirate: Dubai

Hobbies: I enjoy travelling, experiencing new things, painting, reading, flying, and the French language

Favourite quote: "Be the change you wish to see" - unknown

Favourite activity: Connecting with different cultures

Company profile

Date started: January 2022
Founders: Omar Abu Innab, Silvia Eldawi, Walid Shihabi
Based: Dubai
Sector: PropTech / investment
Employees: 40
Stage: Seed
Investors: Multiple


Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Match info:

Portugal 1
Ronaldo (4')

Morocco 0

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home. 

Diriyah project at a glance

- Diriyah’s 1.9km King Salman Boulevard, a Parisian Champs-Elysees-inspired avenue, is scheduled for completion in 2028
- The Royal Diriyah Opera House is expected to be completed in four years
- Diriyah’s first of 42 hotels, the Bab Samhan hotel, will open in the first quarter of 2024
- On completion in 2030, the Diriyah project is forecast to accommodate more than 100,000 people
- The $63.2 billion Diriyah project will contribute $7.2 billion to the kingdom’s GDP
- It will create more than 178,000 jobs and aims to attract more than 50 million visits a year
- About 2,000 people work for the Diriyah Company, with more than 86 per cent being Saudi citizens


Barcelona 4 (Messi 23' pen, 45+1', 48', Busquets 85')

Celta Vigo 1 (Olaza 42')


Scotland 59 (Tries: Hastings (2), G Horne (3), Turner, Seymour, Barclay, Kinghorn, McInally; Cons: Hastings 8)

Russia 0

'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore'

Rating: 3/5

Directed by: David Yates

Starring: Mads Mikkelson, Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, Jude Law

The Specs:

The Specs:

Engine: 2.9-litre, V6 twin-turbo

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Power: 444bhp

Torque: 600Nm

Price: AED 356,580 incl VAT

On sale: now.

Francesco Totti's bio

Born September 27, 1976

Position Attacking midifelder

Clubs played for (1) - Roma

Total seasons 24

First season 1992/93

Last season 2016/17

Appearances 786

Goals 307

Titles (5) - Serie A 1; Italian Cup 2; Italian Supercup 2

Family reunited

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was born and raised in Tehran and studied English literature before working as a translator in the relief effort for the Japanese International Co-operation Agency in 2003.+

She moved to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies before moving to the World Health Organisation as a communications officer.

She came to the UK in 2007 after securing a scholarship at London Metropolitan University to study a master's in communication management and met her future husband through mutual friends a month later.

The couple were married in August 2009 in Winchester and their daughter was born in June 2014.

She was held in her native country a year later.+


England 458
South Africa 361 & 119 (36.4 overs)

England won by 211 runs and lead series 1-0

Player of the match: Moeen Ali (England)


Company name: Clinicy
Started: 2017
Founders: Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman, Abdullah bin Sulaiman Alobaid and Saud bin Sulaiman Alobaid
Based: Riyadh
Number of staff: 25
Sector: HealthTech
Total funding raised: More than $10 million
Investors: Middle East Venture Partners, Gate Capital, Kafou Group and Fadeed Investment


5pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 1,200m
Winner: Ferdous, Szczepan Mazur (jockey), Ibrahim Al Hadhrami (trainer)
5.30pm: Arabian Triple Crown Round-3 Group 3 (PA) Dh300,000 2,400m
Winner: Basmah, Fabrice Veron, Eric Lemartinel
6pm: UAE Arabian Derby Prestige (PA) Dh150,000 2,200m
Winner: Ihtesham, Szczepan Mazur, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami
6.30pm: Emirates Championship Group 1 (PA) Dh1,000,000 2,200m
Winner: Somoud, Patrick Cosgrave, Ahmed Al Mehairbi
7pm: Abu Dhabi Championship Group 3 (TB) Dh380,000 2,200m
Winner: GM Hopkins, Patrick Cosgrave, Jaber Ramadhan
7.30pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Conditions (PA) Dh70,000 1,600m
Winner: AF Al Bairaq, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

The specs: 2017 Lotus Evora Sport 410

Price, base / as tested Dh395,000 / Dh420,000

Engine 3.5L V6

Transmission Six-speed manual

Power 410hp @ 7,000rpm

Torque 420Nm @ 3,500rpm

Fuel economy, combined 9.7L / 100km

The biog

Favourite food: Tabbouleh, greek salad and sushi

Favourite TV show: That 70s Show

Favourite animal: Ferrets, they are smart, sensitive, playful and loving

Favourite holiday destination: Seychelles, my resolution for 2020 is to visit as many spiritual retreats and animal shelters across the world as I can

Name of first pet: Eddy, a Persian cat that showed up at our home

Favourite dog breed: I love them all - if I had to pick Yorkshire terrier for small dogs and St Bernard's for big

The specs

Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 620hp from 5,750-7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm from 3,000-5,750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh1.05 million ($286,000)


Favourite author - Paulo Coelho 

Favourite holiday destination - Cuba 

New York Times or Jordan Times? NYT is a school and JT was my practice field

Role model - My Grandfather 

Dream interviewee - Che Guevara


Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Stars: Gerard Butler, Navid Negahban, Ali Fazal

Rating: 2.5/5

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