One is the first Saudi woman to conquer Mount Everest. The other is a renowned makeup artist who’s launched a successful training academy.
And while their careers may take them to different corners of the world, one thing they’re both passionate about is female empowerment.
So the conversation flowed easily when Dubai-based makeup artist Nina Ubhi invited adventurer Raha Moharrak to chat over a cuppa.
In a video exclusively shared with Emirates Woman, the two discussed social media, beauty, friendships and more.
Watch the video for some inspirational quotes, or scroll down to read and insightful Q&A…
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What can we do as women to empower the younger generation of girls in the UAE and the Middle East?
Nina: I am a huge supporter of social media and believe it should be used in the right way to channel the right messages for younger women. With close to 90 per cent of my following being women, I have now begun to steer my social media channels towards to my experiences, struggles and victories in order to achieve what I have done so far within my career. In order to empower the younger generation, we should utilise the popular means of message delivery through social media to show them how we have managed to find success.
Raha: It’s all about strength in numbers – we need to be bold and brave in sharing our dreams with other women who are ready and willing to lead by example. That means getting like-minded people together through platforms like Emirates Woman which serve to highlight stories of strong, inspiring women who show girls what they’re truly capable of.
How do you think the UAE is doing when it comes to female empowerment? What more can the government do?
Nina: One of the reasons I moved to Dubai was because of the utmost respect given to women here. To think that 35 per cent of entrepreneurs in the UAE are women should give some sort of indication as to how much women feel empowered to run their own businesses here. I feel that the UAE gives women a voice and a chance to express themselves, it also provides them with a solid foundation upon which they can build and develop a business.
With regards to the government, if you look at the fact that the UAE ranked as the leader for gender equality in the region, it clearly shows that they take women seriously. Women here have a presence in both the private and public sector, with roles in business, military and government. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I believe the government is genuinely going in the right direction.
Raha: I’d say they’re a leader in the region in terms of women’s equality, whether we’re talking about opportunities in the workforce or female voices represented in the media, they empower women from an early age – little girls can play the same sports as boys, they participate in all the same activities, and so on. They’ve got a great track record, and they can improve on it by allowing for more programs like the ones we mentioned to grow and develop.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve both had to overcome?
Nina: The stigma being attached to being a makeup artist. I have met so many people along the way who instantly dismiss me when I tell them that. I am the first to admit I don’t have a university degree, but I have a passion for what I do, I genuinely enjoy it and I have made a business from it which not only pays me but also creates work for other artists within my agency in the UK. When I tell people that I also have a business, I feel their respect for me increases. This is a shame and you should never judge someone by what they do for a living.
Raha: Getting my family on board with my career. I needed their support; I needed their acceptance. I overcame it through hard work: I showed my parents that I was capable and wanted to climb this mountain more than anything. I didn’t just say I wanted to climb the highest mountain in the world – I said I wanted to climb the highest mountain in the world, and I put the time in and I trained.
Your top tips for building strong female friendships?
Nina: Be yourself – don’t try to fake who you are, there is no need. Be genuine and always ready to help others – remember, you also needed help at some point in your life and someone did give it to you. Surround yourself by like-minded people – you will have endless amounts of information to talk about.
Raha: Do not gossip under any circumstance – personal, work or whatever – gossip ruins friendship. Also, cultivate a healthy attitude towards your competition. If you have a rival in your field, view it as competing with each other to be better as individuals. That way, you collectively raise the bar for women in your field.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Nina: To always be honest, do good for others, and God will then look after me. I genuinely feel that by putting out good into this world, you will get it back in abundance. Equally, if you do bad, it will also come back in abundance. Some people call it karma. This advice was given to me by my grandmother, who was the one who encouraged me to pursue my passion for makeup. She said that if I truly loved what I did then I had to believe in myself, and that I’m capable of doing anything I set my heart on.
Raha: There’s a quote from my dad that I’ve carried with me since I was young – I kept getting bad grades in school, and I almost failed, and he told me, ”There’s no shame in failing, there’s only shame in giving up.”
How do you feel about the fashion and beauty industry’s representation of beauty?
A video posted by Nina Ubhi – Dubai based 🇦🇪 (@ninaubhi) on
Nina: The industry has evolved vastly since back in the day where we were indirectly told what is and is not beautiful, but fashion still has a long way to go. As much as I see plus-size models popping up here and there on runways I don’t feel there should be just one or the other. The only sizes that exist in this world are not just size zero and plus size. What about everything in between? Being healthy is what everyone should aspire to be.
Raha: I think people in the fashion industry should have to issue a disclaimer detailing how much Photoshop and post-editing has gone into a photo shoot, because we set unrealistic expectations for young girls out there – tone down the Photoshop and contouring. I do think the world has a very narrow standard of beauty – we’re all guilty of it. We’re ruining what it means to feel beautiful and comfortable in your own skin.