What Is It Like to Be a Female Business Owner in Dubai?


In 1994, Helene Mathieu came to Dubai from Canada for a job opportunity. By 1998, she opened her own legal consultancy, Helene Mathieu Legal Consultants, becoming the first Western woman to obtain a legal consultancy license in Dubai. The process was not easy, and it took her a year and a half to acquire the approval for a consultancy. However, the many challenges she faced strengthened her resolve and empowered her to become a force in the legal and business worlds of Dubai.

Helene Mathieu, as a legal consultant and female business owner, is often asked about her experiences in Dubai. She is quick to dispel the notion that women can’t succeed in the region. Dubai is increasingly becoming more progressive, and, today, there is a lot of respect for women in Dubai and the rest of the United Arab Emirates. She points out that you only have to look at the government, as well as the current and upcoming generations of women in leadership roles, to see that female empowerment is increasing in this region.

In fact, Helene Mathieu marvels at the fact that there are “dinosaurs” in some legal communities in North America, a part of the world considered more progressive in its gender politics. These “dinosaurs” reflect an old school of thought that is increasingly becoming a thing of the past in Dubai, just as it is in North America. However, she explains that the current climate for females doing business in Dubai is not perfect, and there are clients who may not want to work with her. Helene Mathieu does not take it personally, and she has other employees at Helene Mathieu Legal Consultants work with those clients. Whether she is at the negotiation table or in the background, she has her finger on the pulse of everything at Helene Mathieu Legal Consultants.

Helene Mathieu explains that if you are self-confident in your abilities and your role, you will do well in your client interactions and make a solid contribution to whatever is at stake. Ultimately, Helene Mathieu notes that her gender has been an asset to her career – and the firm’s success – in Dubai.

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