Despite some Western stereotypes of submission and meekness, Time reports that Arab women are the world's most confident, bullish female investors. They are "the most secure in their knowledge of estate and retirement planning." In fact, according to Time magazine's Carla Power, "Gulf women control around $246 billion, projected to hit $385 billion by 2011. In Saudi Arabia, women own about a third of brokerage accounts and 40% of family-run firms, albeit often as silent partners. A 2007 study by the International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank, found that a third of women-owned enterprises in the United Arab Emirates generated over $100,000 a year, versus only 13% of American women-owned firms." (Saudi women, who have women-only banks that cater to their financial needs, are also day-trading online in growing numbers.)
Another reason Gulf women are raking in the cash is because of Muslim inheritance laws. Time notes, " Shari'a dictates that a married woman's wealth is her own; spending on her household is her husband's responsibility." However, Graham Bell, a Dubai-based wealth manager tells Time, "This is not about women's liberation. It's about money."
Everything, of course, is not all coming up roses, as Arab women are often denied capital from banks and must get investment cash from family or relatives. But, as feminist theorists like Linda Hirshman love to point out, wealth and power go hand in hand. Monetary gain is the "the marker of success in a market economy," Hirshman has said, and as Arab women become financially solvent on their own, they will likely increase their political power.