Majid Al Futtaim, the Middle East’s largest mall operator, launched a new computer coding programme in the UAE that aims to train more than 5,000 women in advanced software technology development in the next five years.
The move is in line with the UAE government-led Projects of the 50 initiative that intends to attract 100 coders every day to the country’s workforce and achieve the highest percentage of female coders per capita in the world in the next five years.
“The technology sector has tremendous opportunity for gender parity and by creating the first corporate-led coding programme for women in the UAE, we are committed to developing and nurturing the untapped potential that exists locally,” said Alain Bejjani, chief executive of Majid Al Futtaim Holding.
The programme will target university students, recent graduates, mid-career women and Majid Al Futtaim's own staff. This will enable the mall operator to achieve its goal to have women fill more than 35 per cent of roles in advanced technologies and digital by 2023.
This scheme will increase the participation of women in the tech industry, Mr Bejjani said. There are many “invisible barriers”, he said, that discourage women from pursuing a career in the digital world that further widens the skills and gender gap.
“Research suggests that women make up only 28 per cent of the global tech sector's workforce and with the industry booming, now is the time to change this trajectory,” he said.
The UAE, the Arab world’s second largest economy, is already attracting technology talent through various initiatives.
Besides offering long-term visas to technology entrepreneurs and professionals from around the world, the Emirates recently signed pacts with companies such as Google and Amazon to train 100,000 programmers and coders within the next five years and create 1,000 digital companies to boost its economy.
This week, it also launched the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network that will grow 500 national companies through the application of advanced technology over five years.
Majid Al Futtaim, founded in 1992, will roll out several initiatives to encourage women to take up tech subjects, providing opportunities to enhance their skills and support them to secure senior positions.