Omani Woman Leader Fuels Productivity, Investment
In 1980, Nisreen Ahmed Jaffer became the first woman petroleum engineer in Oman.
After graduating from Baghdad University, she joined the Petroleum Development of Oman Company and the then Ministry of Petroleum & Minerals.
“Back then, there were very few qualified Omani male engineers, let alone female engineers,” Nisreen said. “This, in my view, is one of the early evidences of the country’s effective leadership vision for women empowerment in Oman. In those days, in a male-dominated society, it was always a challenge for women to be recognized and to be accepted as a colleague or as a boss. I had to really prove myself in my job.”
Nisreen has continued to prove herself and advance in her career. Most recently, in her role as Director General of Promotion Investment at The Public Authority for Investment Promotion & Export Development (PAIPED – previously known as OCIPED), Nisreen was instrumental in spearheading a first-time initiative for the authority. PAIPED commissioned an international consultancy company to develop an investment study and strategy for the country.
The 18 month study engaged numerous government departments, organizations and the private sector in the field of economic development. It assessed the Omani economy and policy advocacy environment, and then developed a strategy to promote Oman to the world as an investment destination.
“The challenges were many,” Nisreen said. “Internally, my team was young and inexperienced. There were many external stakeholders and securing their full cooperation and understanding was required. Engaging them was key to attracting more investments in Oman. This was done by organizing several interactive sessions with the stakeholders for every phase of the study so they knew we took their feedback seriously.”
The study identified 10 priority sectors and 26 target markets. Promotional efforts were focused by geography and sector to ensure the best utilization of resources. Nisreen also helped develop Oman’s export development strategy.
Nisreen reflected that “During the seventies and early eighties, there were very few women who were employed and those who were worked mostly in low-profile, traditional jobs like education and health sectors.” Being one of the few, qualified women engineers, Nisreen has had a great influence on and contributed to what Oman is today.
As a leader in her community, Nisreen is also a part of several steering committees, events and studies in a continual effort to provide a leadership and serve as an example of women’s capabilities and empowerment to young women in her country.