number of women in the cabinet of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates was
doubled to four on Sunday, in a reshuffle in which new economy and labour
ministers were named.
Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum, ruler of the affluent emirate of
Dubai, brought in two women as ministers of state, the official WAM news
They are Maitha al-Shamsi, assistant to the deputy head of UAE University
for scientific research, and Reem al-Hashemi, who served as deputy
ambassador to Washington and assistant to the foreign minister for economic
Sheikha Lubna al-Qassemi, a US-educated businesswoman who became the first
woman to join the cabinet of the conservative Gulf state in November 2004,
was moved from the economy portfolio to a newly-created external trade
The fourth woman, Mariam al-Rumi, stayed on as social affairs minister.
Qassemi was replaced as minister of economy by Sultan bin Said al-Mansuri,
who was in charge of public sector development in the outgoing cabinet.
The change comes amid high levels of inflation and spiraling cost of
living, with inflation officially put at 9.3 percent in 2006.
The UAE ambassador to Washington, Saqr Ghubash, was named minister of
labour, succeeding Ali al-Kaabi, who was dropped from government.
Labour is a key portfolio in a country where expatriate workers and their
dependents make up nearly 80 percent of the population of more than four
The UAE employs hundreds of thousands of mostly Asian low-paid workers
whose conditions have been the focus of international rights groups.
The board chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Obaid
al-Tayer, entered the cabinet as minister of state for financial affairs.
There was no change in the key ministries of energy, foreign affairs and
interior. The defence portfolio has long been held by Sheikh Mohammad bin
Rashed, who also serves as vice president of the seven-member Gulf