Today (August 28) marks the second ever Emirati Women’s Day so we spoke to some incredibly influential local women about what it means to them.

Emirati Women’s Day was launched in 2015 by HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairperson of the General Women’s Union, President of the Family Development Foundation, and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood.

The important day was added to our calendar to boost the recognition of women in the region and highlight their pivotal role in the community. The day is part of a bigger movement to increase female empowerment in the Middle East.

To celebrate we interviewed Emirati ladies about what the national dress means to them – read their interviews and see the video here. While below four local women talk about what it means to be an Emirati.

Fatema Fardan, Fashion Designer

 

 Fatema Fardan, Emirati Women's Day

What does it mean to you to be an Emirati woman?

I feel very proud of my heritage. The UAE to me is a fascinating melting pot of nationalities and ethnicities all living in unity together.

How has the emirates changed over the years?

The emirates was much more humble and we didn’t have a lot of development. There was only one mall in Dubai and just one cinema that everyone used to go to, but now we have new upcoming projects happening everyday and at such a pace that it’s difficult to keep up.

What are the opportunities for women here?

Opportunities are boundless for women in the UAE at the moment. We have women working in various fields from science to technology and female CEOs and doctors.

What’s most important thing to you as an Emirati woman?

The most important thing to me is to portray the right image of Emirati women as we are successful, independent and beautiful. We balance both our personal family lives with our professional lives.

What do you love the most about the Emirati culture?

The hospitality of the people and the family atmosphere.

What inspires you about the UAE?

I find the desert to be really therapeutic. Something about the vast silence really helps you reflect on life. I also find Sharjah to be very inspiring, as it has become a real hub for the arts.

Favourite place to eat in the UAE?

My favourite restaurants at the moment are La Serre, Coya in Dubai and Cipriani in Abu Dhabi.

Favourite place to shop in the UAE?

I love the Galleria Mall in Abu Dhabi and in Dubai it would have to be Mall of The Emirates or The Dubai Mall.

Favourite things to do in the UAE?

In the summer I love spending my time on the beach or visiting Saadiyat Island or Nurai Island. In the winter I love going on desert safaris.

Read:

UAE Women Reveal: What Feminism Means To Me

Maternity Law In The UAE To Get Major Update

What The National Dress Means To Me

Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, Artist, curator, fashion designer and entrepreneur

Emirati Women's Day, Sumayyah Al Suwaidi,

What does it mean to you to be an Emirati woman?

It means pride and joy, I am proud to be in a country well known for its humanity and generosity and I can’t express how glad I am to be born an Emirati. Not many are as lucky  to have such loving and giving rulers who treat their people with the utmost care.

How have the emirates changed over the years?

They have changed drastically and rapidly. In a short time women were given the freedom to open their own business, to work in government and private sectors, to drive and travel and to have the freedom a man has.

What are the opportunities for women here?

Women here have the same opportunities as all women around the world. In fact women here probably have even more options as it’s one of the few countries that give women priority over men.

 What’s most important thing to you as an Emirati woman?

To make my country proud and to make sure that I portray it in the best image through my actions.

 What do you love the most about the Emirati culture?

I would have to say the food, I could have it day and night non-stop.

 What inspires you about the UAE?

Its flexibility, its tolerance and openness to opportunities.

Favourite place to eat in the UAE?

At the moment it’s Meylas, an Emirati restaurant at Al Muneera on Al Raha beach in Abu Dhabi.

Favourite place to shop in the UAE?

Definitely Yas Mall and Dubai Mall.

Favourite things to do in the UAE? 

I love to go camping during the winter in Hatta, spending time on Sadiyaat beaches in the summer, and occasionally kayaking in Abu Dhabi’s mangroves.

Nayla Al Khaja, Film director, screenwriter and producer

Emirati Women's Day, Nayla Al Khaja

What does it mean to you to be an Emirati woman?   

I believe being an Emirati is being a little bit of everyone else. Being surrounded by so many different nationalities it’s hard to not be influenced by them. It’s about embracing others, whilst enjoying the lifestyle of being a local with a bit of an expat twist. I really like the whole dichotomy of it.

How has the emirates changed over the years?

When I was growing up, watching how this whole city just seemed to grow up out of the ground was incredible. It was like watching a time-lapse, it was really quite mind-boggling. When I used to live in Mirdiff, there were literally only three villas and no roads, so we had to take a 4×4 and go over dunes to reach my house.

What are the opportunities for women here?

There are many opportunities for women here, especially in my line of work as there’s a hunger for creating new media. But in general, there is a lot of support for women in the UAE.

What’s the most important thing to you as an Emirati woman?

Embracing other cultures. We live in a unique, diverse country and I really love the different influences that brings.

What do you love the most about the Emirati culture?

There are a lot of things that I love. As a young city, we’ve still got a long way to go – but I love that it’s an ambitious city, and the leaders are ambitious. I like that the UAE nationals themselves are very generous in their nature. They’re very welcoming people, and very tolerant to other religions and cultures.

What inspires you about the UAE?

How we just grew out of nowhere in such a short space of time. Other places would take decades upon decades to replicate what’s been done here over the past 40 years.

Favourite place to eat in the UAE?

Novikov at the Sheraton, I was one of the first people to eat there with my friends and the food was absolutely amazing.

Favourite place to shop in the UAE?

Mall of the Emirates would probably be my top choice.

Favourite things to do in the UAE? 

We’ve got a group where one of us will suggest somewhere new, then we’ll all head out to discover a new hangout or dining places. I also just love to stay in sometimes and have a games night with a few friends.

Read:

Celebrating Women in Business In The UAE

Women’s Rights In The Middle East Brought To Light

Reem Al Shemari, Owner Of Gluten-Free Tawa Bakery 

Tawa Bakery

Tawa Bakery (Reem prefers not to have her picture published)

What does it mean to you to be an Emirati woman?

I’m proud to be an Emirati woman because I was given a lot of priceless opportunities that I would never have dreamt of. I’m lucky to be living in this ‘miracle’ country that was brought to life by an extraordinary visionary man; the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, and it continues to be led by exceptional leadership.

How have the emirates changed over the years?

The UAE has proved over and over again that the impossible is always possible, from the very beginning when it was a harsh desert to what it has become today, a cosmopolitan lively country with over 200 nationalities living in respect and harmony.

What are the opportunities for women here?

We are blessed to have such a young country with inspirational leadership that empowers and motivates women in various sectors and contexts. We witness an increase term after term in the leadership positions that women achieve. There are many untapped opportunities to be explored and many ‘firsts’ awaiting to be acquired by ambitious women out here.

What’s most important thing to you as an Emirati woman?

The support of my family, which I’m blessed to have since I was very young. Without the continuous encouragement and faith from my parents and specifically my father, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

What do you love the most about the Emirati culture?

The concept of unity, togetherness and family. The concept of generosity, respect and tolerance. These are just a few of the values the founding father Sheikh Zayed embedded into the people of the UAE.

What inspires you about the UAE?

The long-term vision and its extraordinary ambition to seize new opportunities.

Check out the exclusive deals for you lovely ladies this Emirati Women’s Day

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