Making HerStory: The Women of the First Arab Land Conference Give Us Their Thoughts | Land Portal | Protegendo os direitos da terra através de dados abertos

This month marks women’s month and now, more than ever, women and men alike are coming together in abundant numbers, encouraging and rallying for the strength of women everywhere.  We took a few moments to sit down with but a few of the inspiring women who attended the Arab Land Conference from the 26-28 of February in Dubai. Scroll down to hear their inspiring thoughts.


Seema Al Langawi is a CEO of Land Capital Consultancy, which deals with land administration services & development. She is an arbitrator & expert in UAE federal courts, as well as various Bahraini courts. Seema was a consultant with the Land and Property Management sector of the Department of Municipal Affairs, Government of Abu Dhabi, as well as an external consultant to the World Bank for various Gulf Cooperation Council  projects.  With over thirty-three years of experience in the sector, she also holds honorary positions as a survey engineer and property expert in the Court of Justice of the State of Bahrain and the Gulf Coordination Council Commercial Arbitration Centre. Seema is a member and Founder of various professional associations including the Project Management Institute, the International Cartographic Association, the Bahrain Society of Engineers and the Women’s Union of Bahrain. 

 

1) Why was this first Arab Land Conference such an important milestone and why was it necessary at this point in time?

Many land experts from the region would travel to Washington for the Land and Poverty Conference every year.  Our dream, essentially, was to be able to host something with that level of influence at the regional level.  We wanted a meeting that would serve as a reference point for all those working in the sector in this region, from civil society organizations to government officials.  Several meetings were held and discussions were organized by the World Bank and UN Habitat, in order to bring all Arab land experts in the region together. In 2017, it was finally suggested to carry the first conference in Dubai.  In the end, the conference was a great opportunity for us and having it hosted in Dubai, where the development carried out in the past 20 years is unprecedented, was an even greater opportunity.  The conference managed to gather 400 participants who shared their knowledge and expertise with enthusiasm and our goal, of course, is to keep the momentum going. 

 

2) What do you feel were some of the accomplishments or main messages that came out of the Arab Land Conference?

It is important to note that, while this conference was an important goal for us in the region and a dream in some sense, this was never our end target.  The real target is to continue along all of the GCC states and the regional level, and have these types of meetings throughout the region.  We want to replicate what we have just done in Dubai in every country.  Perhaps the main message that came out of the conference is that there is an interest for this and that participants are willing and eager to take part in future follow up events, wherever they may be. 

 

3) What do you see as the follow up to such an event? 

As mentioned, the conference was far beyond what we could have ever expected.  There will be a lot of follow up and this was just the first experience.  What we would like to do in the future, which we admittedly did not have a chance to do during this initial event, is to highlight each and every one of the countries in the region. This of course, is essential and one of the main goals. This is why it is important that we do not stay quiet for the next two years, when the next Arab Land Conference will be hosted.  We wanted to have thematic conversations around women, or information technology and laws & regulations for example.  We ask all those who have attended the event, or simply those who are interested, to stay tuned for further updates.  We truly appreciate and look forward to further cooperation. 


Laura Cunial is the Information Counseling Legal Assistance (ICLA) Specialist at the Syria Response Office of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). The NRC is a humanitarian, non-governmental organization which promotes and protects the rights of people affected by displacement. This includes refugees and internally displaced persons, who are forced to flee their homes as a result of conflict, human rights violations and acute violence, as well as climate change and natural disasters.

 

1) Why was this first Arab Land Conference such an important milestone and why was it necessary at this point in time?

Of course, it was the very first conference of its’ kind in the Arab states and the bringing together of actors in the region was a milestone in and of itself.  From our point of view, the conference was a success in large part due to the specific attention given to land and conflict. It was encouraging for us as the Norwegian Refugee Council to see that this was given ample space throughout the conference, and that a deliberate effort was made to draw the linkages between Housing, Land and Property Rights and dispute, violence and conflict in the region.  The more detailed discussions around the effects that property disputes have on the neighboring countries of conflict affected states, were also extremely important.  Finally, we were delighted to see that women’s access to Housing, Land and Property Rights was highlighted and that specific cases such as the Tunisian case were brought to light. Work undoubtedly remains to be done in this regard and the challenges are still there, but these are essential first steps. 

 

2) What do you feel were some of the accomplishments or main messages that came out of the Arab Land Conference?

Once again, at this point in time, bringing together actors that don’t usually meet in person, actors from across the region who can finally discuss, debate, exchange ideas and network, is invaluable.  As we know, the presence of civil society organizations in the region needs to be strengthened, and hopefully the constructive discussion which took place in Dubai will help us in seeing an improvement in this regard. 

 

3) What do you see as the follow up to such an event? 

We are excited to know that there are plans for future meetings of the Arab Land Conference and look forward to taking part in them.  What is key, however, is to ensure that discussions continue in the important intermittent stages.  Now that we’ve had a first solid meeting, let us keep talking, especially along specific thematic lines, to deepen our knowledge and strengthen our collaboration.   

 

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