Whether sports stars, scientists or style mavens, these ladies are really grabbing the world’s attention.
We’ve been ever so proud of our countrywomen this week.
With Emirati Women’s Day taking place on August 28, we’ve spent days reading about the many achievements of the ladies of the UAE.
We’ve been highlighting some of them ourselves; for example, compiling this top 10 of UAE women making leaps and bounds in the realms of government and business.
During our research, we also kept discovering many other accomplished females leading the way in their chosen fields.
So, we’ve pulled together a compilation of Emirati women making headlines around the world, and shining a spotlight on the UAE with their success stories.
Read on, and feel rather inspired…
Looks to us like the medals around 22-year-old figure skater Zahra Lari’s neck speak for themselves. The Abu Dhabi local is the first woman to ever compete on the ice in a hijab (amazing) and she’s aiming to be the UAE’s first Winter Olympics athlete too. She’s determined and talented, and we wouldn’t bet against her. Lari also studies environmental health and safety at Abu Dhabi University, and has deals with Garnier and Nike.
Amna Al Qubaisi
This bright young thing is still at school, but she’s already become the first Emirati girl to win Rotax Max Challenge series. She’s a rising motorsport star at an age when most of us didn’t even have our licenses, which is more than a little bit impressive.
“It feels really amazing to be the first female driver of the UAE to be racing in Formula Four,” Al Qubaisi told sport360 in May. “I feel very confident that I can do well there and this is the first step to Formula One. I hope that I can make good progress and hopefully soon I can make it in Formula One.”
Amal Mohammed Murad
It’s got to be said, being able to describe yourself as a graphic designer and parkour coach is pretty cool. What makes Mohammed even cooler is that she’s the only woman of that description in the UAE. Last year, she told The National she sees Emirati women making their own way in sports.
“Women are more passionate because they still constantly have to prove that they are equally, if not more, talented than their male counterparts,” she said.
Sheikha Madiyah Al Sharqi
The daughter of the Ruler of Fujairah, HH Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, is really helping put the UAE on the fashion map. The Dubai-based designer, who studied at prestigious French fashion college Esmod, launched her eponymous label in 2012. Famed for its uber-feminine silhouettes and juxtaposition of textures, the brand has been picked up by fashion magazines around the world, and worn by celebrities including Alessandra Ambrosio and Sofia Vergara.
Mariam Al Mansouri
Though she previously believed it “impossible”, Mariam Al Mansouri persevered to become the UAE’s first female fighter pilot in 2007. When the aviator first set her sights on joining the Armed Forces as a teen, women weren’t allowed to join up – so she bided her time until that changed. Since graduating from the UAEAF academy, Major Al Mansouri has braved immediate danger time and time again to lead mission strikes against ISIL in Iraq. The F-16 fighter jet pilot has received the Mohammed bin Rashid Pride of the Emirates medal and won an award from the United Nations in 2015.
“Both men and women have the right to work in any field,” she told The Guardian in 2014 of battling stereotypes, “as long as they do it with loyalty, determination and persistence.”
Nayla Al Khaja
This director and screenwriter is putting the UAE in the spotlight thanks to her award-winning work on the silver screen. The Three and Malal star, who is billed as the Emirates’ first female producer, is also the founder of Dubai-based production company D-Seven Motion Pictures (which has worked with brands including Gucci, Nike and Mercedes-Benz). Al Khaja is also the brainchild behind Dubai’s first film club – The Scene Club — and told Al Arabiya this year it’s her dream “to see UAE films in Cannes and Berlin and all these big festivals”. Could we see her at the Oscars in the near future? We definitely reckon so.
Amna Al Haddad
“I was leading a very unhealthy lifestyle, eating all the wrong things and doing nothing about it. One day, I woke up and realised I couldn’t continue living like that.” That’s how Amna Al Haddad, at the age of 19, started on a path that saw her become a professional weightlifter. She made history as the first Emirati and GCC national to compete in the Asia Regionals and the first and only Muslim woman to do so in a headscarf.
Al Haddad, now 27, also helped Nike develop its sportwear hijab, though one of her most treasured roles is helping inspire fellow young sportswomen.
“In this journey, I am fighting misconceptions about women athletes, our talents and capabilities both in the field and our role in the society,” she told Emirates Woman last year.
Alia Al Mansouri
She’s just 15, but this Dubai schoolgirl already looks set to skyrocket the UAE into new realms. Al Mansouri hopes to become the Emirates’ first astronaut, and among the first to land on Mars one day, and we definitely fancy her chances. The teen won the Genes in Space competition this year with a proposal to study how exposure to space affects the health of live organisms at a cellular level. Her experiment was blasted into space just this month, and Al Mansouri got to visit NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for the occasion. We have a feeling she’ll be back there again in the near future…
Images: Supplied, Dubai Media Office, CNN/screengrab