When it comes to girl power, these ladies have got it in spades…
Here at emirateswoman.com, we’ve made it our mission to celebrate the inspirational achievements of women in the region.
So, naturally, one of our favourite events of the year is International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8.
Aside from wearing a slogan tee, we’re going to be celebrating the ladies that really made an impact in the last 12 months with their experiences and initiatives.
So, with no further ado, here are our 10 favourite times that Arab women made a splash this year…
The Nike ad that got the world talking
Sure, it may have drawn a little criticism from some who said it didn’t represent the lives of all those in the Middle East, but Nike’s latest campaign definitely shone a light on some of the region’s sporting stars – and we love it for that. The viral video – which was shot in Dubai, and starred five inspiring Middle Eastern women – was picked up by media around the world. The empowering campaign, which featured two Emiratis (parkour trainer Amal Murad and figure skater Zahra Lari) centres around the question, “what will they say about you?”. And after this video, people are definitely talking…
Princess Haya’s hefty donation
Her humanitarian efforts are wide-reaching, but perhaps our favourite from the last 12 months was HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein’s Dhs145 million donation to a Jordanian charity. The royal donated the astounding amount to fight hunger and poverty in her home country, and hopes to feed 30,000 families with the generous pledge (which she made in the name of her late parents). HRH also gets another mention for personally manning the delivery and distribution of 90 metric tonnes of aid to Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital that devastated by a cyclone in October.
The high-flying royal
First there was the skydiving Sheikha… and then another member of Dubai’s royal family proved not even the sky’s the limit for flying females. Sheikha Mozah Al Maktoum completed her first assisted flight as a commercial pilot this year, and was congratulated across social media by family members. The royal, who earned her wings in April last year, now works in an industry where women make up only 3 per cent of the workforce.
The Emirati setting an example for empowerment
In 2013, ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh was the first woman to be appointed Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations. This year, the top diplomat was elected to the presidency of the UN-Women Executive Board for 2017. In her acceptance speech, Nusseibeh said gender equality was of “paramount importance” to the UAE. “The constitution of the UAE guarantees equal rights for both women and men, and underpins the fundamental belief that women and men are equal partners in society,” she said. We’re confident she’ll be a shining beacon for women’s empowerment over the coming months.
The Saudi sportswomen at Rio
In 2012, Saudi Arabia sent its first-ever female athlete to compete in the London Olympic Games. This year, the nation quadrupled its efforts, sending a squad of four women to Rio de Janeiro. Sara Al-Attar, Lubna Al-Omair, Cariman Abu Al-Jadail and Wujud Fahmi became only the second group of female Olympians to represent Saudi at the Games, and while they might not have brought home medals this time, they definitely broke down barriers.
A female CEO gets a game-changing new job
Speaking of Saudi women, another made headlines this year when she became the first female to head up the kingdom’s stock exchange in its history. Sarah Al Suhaimi, previously NCB Capital Co’s chief executive officer, was hired to fill the high-powered role previously only held by men just last month. The Harvard-educated CEO will now head up the Tadawul, the largest bourse in the Middle East.
Camilla’s all-hijabi security squad
In what was easily our favourite image of the last 12 months, the Duchess of Cornwall was escorted by an all-female protection squad during her visit to the UAE. The British royal was flanked by four Emiratis, each donning the traditional hijab and abaya, as they guarded Camilla leaving the capital’s Emirates Palace Hotel. The women were handpicked from the UAE’s presidential guard, which counts more than 50 females among its ranks, and are all highly skilled in martial arts and combat techniques.
The Emirati model making strides
At 2016’s Arab Fashion Week, Rafeea Al Hajsi made fashion history as she became the first Emirati model to strut the event’s catwalk. Despite the event taking place in Dubai, and running in its third season, international models are usually picked to walk in the shows, especially the catwalks where the fashion might not be considered modest. “I consider myself a very courageous girl to be in this field,” she said. “It was very difficult for me to become a model, especially as an Emirati.”
The Minister Of Happiness was announced
That the UAE even has a ministry dedicated to the nation’s positivity is applaudable, but the fact that it’s headed up by a woman makes it taste all the more sweet. Her Excellency Ohood Al Roumi was revealed as the Minister of State for Happiness last year, and has since been instrumental in launching initiatives such as training some of the country’s top CEOs as chief positivity officers.
The all-women police squad protecting our markets
In a forward-thinking approach to safety and diversity, Dubai Police last year decided to launch an all-women squad to guard the emirates’s markets, such as Dubai Gold Souk. The squad’s role was primarily to combat theft and fraud, but also deal with issues involving women in order to “avoid embarrassment”. And judging by their skills on a motorbike, they’re definitely a force to be reckoned with…