In order for a woman to succeed in a world, where the rules are dictated by men and age-old traditions, she must be a real professional. Today we are interviewing just such a specialist and, using her example, we want to show how professionalism and striving for success help to achieve heights despite unequal conditions.
Layal, please describe the problems women face in the Middle East? How do these problems prevent women from developing and achieving success in their careers?
"Unfortunately, in the majority of the Middle East countries, women cannot have equal rights with men. What is more, development in the professional sphere is complicated for them. All the leading positions in the majority of spheres of life are occupied by men - and it is the main problem and inhibitory factor for women's career progress. As a rule, each woman entirely depends on her husband. Her life is locked in the household. Of course, such a dishonorable role affects the options in general development in social, professional, and cultural dimensions exceptionally negatively.
You are one of the few who have truly reached impressive heights in your professional career. What qualities do you think have helped you to succeed in the specific world of business and finance, where men traditionally rule?
Of course, every rule has exceptions. I think I was fortunate to manage the escape from this vicious circle of dependencies and become an example for many women willing to live, work, and develop a fascinating career. Luck is far from a determinant perk here. I work a lot and constantly improve myself as a professional. A woman in the Middle East can be successful if she is head and shoulders above men in a professional dimension.
Your story is a success story. What are its reasons?
"As I've mentioned before, the fundamental cause of success is persistence. I put back into work and continually learn. In the financial sphere, one must not only know much but swiftly react to the market changes, as the apparent prosperity can give place to a crisis in a moment.
Tell us about your experience. What challenges did you face in Euromena and how important is your role in the company's operations and its success?
During the days of employment in Euromena Funds, an international investment company based in Lebanon, I could prove out myself maximally. There I got significant experience in investments and affected mutual success and company development equally with men.
My duties included the workflow organization within a company and consulting in the field of taxation optimization.
How do Lebanese and international partners and clients rate your work?
"Their feedback was very positive. Their support and appreciation, in particular, have become proof of my professionalism and motivated me to move further in my career and professional knowledge and never stop at what has already been achieved. At the rapidly changing world of finance you always need to move forward.
At the end of 2019, a banking crisis began in Lebanon, from which the country has not yet been able to recover. Tell us how you managed not only to work, but also to maintain high efficiency during this difficult time?
During the October 2019 banking crisis, a pretty severe period for Lebanon, I had to run the financial flows of the whole Euromena Group.
Besides that, in the meantime, I was lucky to cooperate with financial development institutes in the spheres of ecology betterment and social relationships. The institutes still promote the development of the Lebanon private sector forming after a crisis and the region's economic stability.
Answering your question, I can add that the system approach and a habit of learning and work much helped me solve those tasks. Years of practice gave birth to a strong habit not to sit idly even if I had spare time.
In addition to finance, what other areas have you managed to become a professional and succeed in?
"Yes, finances are not half of it. I conducted the transfer of the data belonging to all 18 companies forming the Euromena Group from old software to new. Despite the significant amount of work, I managed to complete it successfully. That assignment captivated me, as it demanded great attention to detail. I think the more difficulty means the more excitement.
How do you manage not only to work fruitfully, but also to study in parallel, to combine this with the role of mother and wife?
Here everything is relatively easy. I wouldn't say I like sitting idly so much that any professional or common obstacle cannot frighten me. They are just tasks, and one should fall in love with them. Then, everything is possible! When you feel the responsibility for others, you feel up to do it!
What advice would you give to women in the Middle East and around the world to achieve their goals?
The main peculiarity of women is their ability to create the world around them, change it, and care about it. It concerns the professional sphere completely. Yes, often, a woman has to work twice more than a man to prove her competence. But it will make you a true professional. It will highlight you among other co-workers and let you accomplish all the career goals.
Unique conference reflects unity against Iran’s extremist policies by moderate Muslims and other faithful.
In an online conference this week political, social, and religious leaders from various Muslim countries, Europe, and the United States stressed the need for a unified response to Iran’s role in regional crises and its practice of fomenting sectarian conflict and threatening its neighbors.
The conference, "Islam, Religion of Mercy, Fraternity, and Equality; Solidarity of All Faiths against Extremism," was chaired by former Algerian Prime Minister Sid Ahmed Ghozali and moderated by the prominent Algerian author Mr. Anwar Malikwas, and was held on the advent of the holy month of Ramadan by the International Islamic Committee in Defence of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK) and the Iranian Resistance.
The virtual gathering connected over 2,000 locations in 40 countries and featured dozens of dignitaries, including former government ministers, members of parliaments, and religious leaders from some 30 countries. The joint presence of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religious leaders underscored the fact that the Iranian regime is an enemy of all these religions.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), who joined the conference from her residence in Auvers-sur-Oise, focused on the notion that “the ruling clerics of Iran are hostile to all Abrahamic religions and all religions of Islam.”
She also noted that this Ramadan is taking place at a time of high prices, mass unemployment, and economic deprivation for millions of Iranians. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has refrained from spending even a tiny portion of his trillions of dollars of assets to the fight against the Coronavirus to provide for public health.
“In reality, the Iranian people simultaneously face two monsters: the virus of religious fascism and the Coronavirus,” Rajavi said.
Emphasizing the fact that the ruling religious fascism in Iran has stepped into a phase of failures and defeat despite all the bloodshed and clampdown that it has committed, the NCRI President-elect added: “So long as the clerical regime has not been overthrown, it will not abandon repression, religious discrimination, and misogyny. It will not abandon its meddling and crimes in Middle East countries because it relies on these policies for its survival. But there is a solution to this ominous calamity that has taken hostage the destinies of Middle East countries and poses the greatest threat to global peace and security. The solution is to overthrow the mullahs' religious fascism by the Iranian Resistance and the uprising of the Iranian people. And today, the MEK, the people of Iran, and their courageous children have risen up to bring down the rule of religious dictatorship.”
Mrs. Rajavi urged all anti-fundamentalist Muslims, and all countries in Europe and the Middle East, to stand with the Iranian people and their struggle to overthrow the regime. This struggle to establish a democratic and pluralist republic will herald the tolerant and peaceful coexistence of followers of various religions and denominations, she said.
Mr. Ghozali echoed this call to action, concluding that the fight against dictatorship by the Iranian resistance will serve not only the Iranian people but also peoples in the surrounding region. “The Iranian Resistance provides an alternative to dictatorships,” he said. “This is the specific characteristic of the Iranian Resistance. It has enormous experience and has made enormous sacrifices for the Iranian people. Even those who are not Iranian wish success for this noble cause. And this is why we consider it as our shared cause.”
Rt. Rev. Bishop John Pritchard joined the conference from the UK and condemned the Iranian regime for misusing religion to carry out atrocities. He noted that activists of all sorts are being arrested and sentenced to long prison terms or even execution based on vague, religious-sounding charges like “waging war against God.”
“Christians are not allowed to observe their faith in public. Their homes are raided and belongings are confiscated simply because they are Christian,” he said. “We reaffirm our belief in freedom of religion in Iran, which is enshrined in Madam Rajavi’s ten-point plan. We call on the international community to take action for the release of all those who are being held in Iran’s prisons unjustly.”
Rabbi Moshe Lewin, spokesperson of the Chief Rabbi of France stressed the need for inter-religious dialogue, especially at a time when much of the world is threatened by fundamentalism. “You are all dear to me and I know how hard you work to have Iran become a democratic country, and how hard you fight against fundamentalism,” he told the global audience of Iranian activists. “And this is why I will always be at your side. Iran needs a society at peace that enables each Iranian citizen to live decently.”
Azzam Al-Ahmad, head of the Fatah faction in the Palestinian Parliament, said, “Palestinians are paying attention to what you are suffering in Iran because of the killing and arrests that the regime is doing. We are also suffering the same killing and capturing and occupation. We will stand together against the dark forces that spread destruction in the Middle East. We support you and our friends in the Iranian nation to achieve the security and noble values that the MEK represents.”
Elona Gjebrea, Secretary of the Albanian Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee and former Deputy Minister of Interior of Albania pointed out that for decades, the Iranian regime has oppressed its people and stripped its citizens of their rights. “We are concerned about the continued use of torture against Iranian protesters and support the human rights of the Iranian people and to support the cause of the MEK.”
Bassam Al-Omoush, former Jordanian Minister and former Ambassador to Iran raised the question, “Why does the Iranian regime need to kill Syrians and Iraqis and Yemeni people?” “This is not Islam. They are using Islam to control the people and this is not acceptable.”
Riad Yassin Abdallah, Former Yemeni Foreign Minister and Ambassador to France stressed, “The Iranian regime’s militias show no mercy toward the people. They are not looking for peace. No one can trust them,” he said. “They are butchering thousands of people. They are planting bombs and depriving the people of food. I invite all our brothers and friends to support and pray for our nation. We need to understand that what they are doing is not supporting peace and security and is not related to any religion.”
Dr. Walid Phares, foreign policy expert and Co-Secretary General of the Transatlantic Parliamentary Group, underscored, “The truth is the militias of the Iranian regime are spreading terrorism across the Arab and Islamic countries. The regime is not the protector of Shiites. They are the oppressors of Shiites. After all these decades of bloodshed, how can we say that this regime represents Islam? We must help bring an understanding of the realities on the ground. Most of the people in the region know the danger of this regime. We wish this resistance movement to be successful in bringing peace and stability to the region.”
Marc Ginsberg, former US Ambassador to Morocco and White House Middle East Adviser, pointed out: “The Iranian regime carries out atrocities under the banner of Islam. And we all know this is not Islam. The mullahs do not practice peace. They practice war. They practice vengeance. Those of us who have come to know Madam Rajavi, the MEK, and NCRI know that her leadership is true Islamic leadership. Like all Abrahamic religions, the Islam that Madam Rajavi practices seek to remove the shackles of human bondage. Despite all concessions made by Europe and the U.S. to this regime, the minute that the ink was dry on that agreement, the Ayatollahs were cheating on the commitments that they signed up for. Madam Rajavi represents the most viable and democratic alternative to this regime.”
Aiham Alsammarae, former Iraqi Minister of Electricity, said, “The Iraqi people will not allow any support of the mullahs and do not endorse concessions to the Iranian regime during the nuclear negotiations. This will only worsen the suffering of the people of Iran and the region,” he said.
Mohamad Nazir Hakim, former Secretary-General of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, expressed a similar sentiment, “The mullahs’ regime has always considered Syria its 35th province to ensure its Shia project overlooks the Mediterranean coast,” he observed. “But the Iranian and Syrian people do not believe the regime’s narrative, and their Resistance movements present hope that goes beyond the regime’s bloodshed.”
According to Cheikh Dhaou Meskine, Secretary-General of Council of Imams in France, “Iran needs its Resistance movement. The whole Middle East needs you so that Iran can live in a democracy and can play its role as the vanguard of civilization.”
Jordanian Member of Parliament Abed Ali Ulaiyan Almohsiri, anticipated the eventual victory of that movement. “[Tehran’s] fascist regime is concerned about this organization and considers them its worst threat,” he said. “This resistance will be victorious and will have support from inside and outside Iran. Iranians agree that this regime has to go. The MEK is moving forward to change this regime to liberate the Iranian people.”
Egyptian MP Ahmed Raafat emphasized that this victory will begin to reverse some of the damage that Iranian imperialism has done to the entire region. “It is spreading its poison all across the world,” he said of the clerical regime. “What the MEK and Madam Maryam Rajavi are doing is a great goal that history will remember.” The movement, he said, represents a meaningful challenge to a regime whose rule “is based on encouraging bloodshed under the banner of Islam. Islam is unconnected with what they are doing.
The #AbrahamAccords and a changing #MiddleEast
Europe, meanwhile, keeps repeating its old stupid mantras of “illegally occupied territories,” and “two states for two peoples.” It can’t fathom calling the current agreements “peace.”
What, after all, is peace without Palestinians?
Paradoxically, many American Jews and Israelis have joined this very same festival of self-humiliation.
European Union must adapt to paradigm shift in the #MiddleEast
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