UAE, Dubai-: The Arab International Women’s Forum (AIWF) is proud and delighted to announce that AIWF’s President & Founder Haifa Al Kaylani has been appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in King Charles’ New Year 2024 Honours List. This honour is in recognition of her services to Women, Young People and to Cultural Relations between the UK and the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Haifa founded AIWF in London in 2001 and under her leadership, it has become a leading non-profit development organisation devoted to bringing women and young people from the UK and the MENA region together to support economic inclusion for women and young people. Haifa has always worked at the highest levels and in collaboration with global networks of governmental, corporate, and institutional advocacy partners to advance momentum for women’s leadership in all sectors and spheres. As the Chair of AIWF for 20 years, Haifa has led tirelessly and from the front on salient economic and societal issues as well as structural and sustainability challenges that have greatly impacted women and youth in the Arab world and internationally. Her global advocacy both on behalf of AIWF and in her personal, independent capacity is held in the highest possible regard in the international business, development, and policy circles.
In recent years, Haifa has become an influential voice promoting the achievements and influence of women and youth in sustainability in the UK and the Arab world, with special focus on climate action, sustainable agriculture, food security and water resilience in the MENA region and beyond. She has worked in close co-operation at the highest levels of the UK government, with the City of London Corporation and successive Lord Mayors of London, the Diplomatic Corps, and with the FCDO since 2001 to champion the economic inclusion of women and young people. In 2010, she was welcomed at 10 Downing Street for a special reception recognising the work and achievements of AIWF in bringing British and Arab women entrepreneurs together for experience exchange and cross-cultural collaboration in business, development, sustainability, and education.
In the Arab world and internationally, she has worked closely with the League of Arab States, the International Labour Organization and the World Bank, as well as with UN agencies such as ESCWA in Beirut and the FAO in Jordan. She has also worked to support governmental organisations in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and many other MENA states on high-level initiatives to support women’s leadership and entrepreneurship, youth empowerment and skills-based capacity development for the future of work in the Arab region and beyond.
Haifa is renowned worldwide as an eloquent and compelling change agent, a high-impact speaker and thought leader who is widely sought after by governments, the international institutions, the private sector, and civil society for her advisory support on social and development issues and for her input and leadership on the future of work and the role of women and young leaders in climate action, sustainability and STEM. She is greatly respected for her work to build bridges of business and opportunity between the UK, which became her home in the 1970s together with her late husband HE Ambassador Wajih Al Kaylani, and the Arab world, where she is regularly recognised as one of the region’s most prolific, accomplished, and inspirational women leaders in business, education and sustainability.
Haifa is and has always been a convenor of people, a believer in coalition-building and in the power of partnership, having herself built invaluable institutional links for AIWF and the many London-based and international charitable organisations she has championed through the course of the last three decades. She made us all proud in 2017 when she became a Fellow of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative, and again in 2017 when she became the only Commissioner from the Arab world to serve on the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work.
Haifa holds senior roles in several cultural, educational, non-governmental UK, MENA and international organisations. She is a Board Member of the Arab British Chamber of Commerce in London, where she has for over a decade worked to foster closer trade relations between women business leaders in the MENA and the UK. Haifa is also a Member of The Stimson East West Council on Track II Diplomacy, a Global Advisory Committee Member of QS, a member of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative Director’s Advisory Council and a longstanding Harvard Women’s Leadership Board Member. Haifa was also recently appointed to the Board of Medurable, a Paris-based non-profit of Water Champions committed to advocating for peace and sustainable development.
Haifa is also an Advisory Board Member of the Global Thinkers Forum, a former Director of the East-West Institute in New York, former Advisory Board Member of the Imperial College Business School, and also served as an Advisory Board Member of the London Middle East Institute at the SOAS University of London. Haifa served in 2012 on The Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance chaired by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She was also the first Honorary Member of the Euro Mediterranean Association for Cooperation and Development (2012).
The awards and honours that Haifa has received during her voluntary service speak to the high regard in which she is held in the UK, Arab and international business, development and sustainability spheres. Haifa is honoured and humbled to receive this esteemed recognition of His Majesty King Charles III and the FCDO, and she remains a resolute and compelling champion for women’s voices and inclusion in the UK and the Arab world ensuring that their economic contributions are recognised and their social equality prioritised in the leadup to the 2030 watershed for the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.