She was raised in a family that respects and appreciates women, and believes that a girl’s education is as important as a boy’s if not more so. She is Malak Al Shibani the Director General of the National Business Center in Oman.
Arab Woman Mag had the honor of meeting her and placing her among our inspirational woman.
Tell us about your family and upbringing and how it played a part in building your leadership personality?
I was raised by a man who believes in a woman as a partner; taking on from my grandmother (may she rest in peace) as she was a source of pride for her children. I learned from my father that marriage is a partnership in every sense of the word. My mother was a working woman, and I was raised in the house where the father’s role is as important as the mother’s role in parenting. My father raised us on the basis of religion, morality and instilling in ourselves confidence, his main priority was in our education, he always said “my children’s education is my only investment.”
Where did you complete your education? And how did you work up in your career till you’ve reached Director General of the National Business Center in Oman?
After earning a scholarship I traveled to the USA to study Business & Finance, during that time I got married and after I earned my degree I moved back to Oman, and from there my career which is filled with achievements commenced.
From the public sector in the Ministry of Industry and Trade, to the Director of Research Department, to General Manager of Promotion Investment till I moved in 2005 to the private sector; for my desire to try a new experience and new challenges in my career, I wanted to challenge myself. It was a great experience that lasted for seven years until I returned to the public sector again in 2012.
After enriching my professional life with new experiences and skills I headed a business incubator that adopts through its program business pioneers and entrepreneurs to help them start their projects and provide all the services and facilities, also promoting their projects; to create job opportunities for the youth.
During my career journey I used to make my choices by weighing my priorities, which always was my family and children. I turned down many opportunities that were offered to me that would have helped to excel my career further, but that collided with my personal circumstances as a mother, but I always made up for such lost opportunities at a later time when circumstances where in my favor.
My husband was my biggest support, as raising our boys was a dual responsibility between the both of us, my boys were always taught to be independent and responsible, and being part of a collaborating family unit surly played a part in my success allowing me the opportunity especially in circumstances when I had to travel or study, or train.
Many get the impression that a woman is selfish if she thinks of working and pursuing a career, and assume that it is conflicting with motherhood and it is not in the best interest of the children, what do you think about that?
This is a completely wrong way of thinking, the problem is that in the Arab world many assume that raising children is only the mothers responsibility, where is the father’s role as a parent? Where is the father to guide between wrong and right? The responsibility for the family unit should fall upon both parents, the father’s role is significant in the upbringing of his children on morality, children need their father’s guidance and care, and unfortunately some believe that the dad’s duty is only as a provider, so we find that the man spends the majority of his time away from his home and places any incompetency or failure on the mother. Society should stop laying the guilt complex on the woman for every family fault; she is not the only one to be held accountable.
In your opinion what are the main disadvantages in our Arab societies? And how could we improve ourselves?
We should stop judging others; we have to realize that religion is spiritual as well as how we treat others, we have to be open to discover other cultures and civilizations and not be afraid of our differences, when someone is sure of his morals, ethics and convictions and not be afraid to deal with others, on the contrary we should portray ourselves to others with pride. Some are afraid of losing themselves and close up on themselves and this shows lack of confidence.
The main developer for society is governed by women; we have to unite on educating them and empowering them.
A message you would like to convey to Arab women?
I tell the Arab woman that she has to own her choices; no one should enforce anything on you. Choose what is suitable to you according to your priorities, do not try to imitate others, and do not compare yourself to others either; we all have different lives and different circumstances. You will be faced with certain sacrifices and that is normal, just keep in mind that priorities change according to time and place, even if this means giving up on some of your dreams and aspirations for the sake of motherhood but this in no way means giving up on yourself and neglecting yourself. Work on self-developing with all available means. Don’t waste time; you are lucky to be living in a time where you have what you need to educate yourself even when you are at home, make use of the internet. Education and freedom of choice are two of your rights that you should never ever give up on..
Translated from Arabic
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