As this year marks the 50th year of the UAE, we celebrate everything that this wonderful nation has to offer, including the incredible women from this country.

As we look to the next 50 years in the UAE, Emirates Woman looks back on some of the incredible women we have championed – and will continue to champion.

These women from the UAE are the ones paving the way for the next generation of women and are inspiring people not only here, but across the globe.

Her Highness Sheikha Sana Al Maktoum


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Emirates Woman’s April 2021 – ‘The Gratitude Issue’ cover star, Her Highness Sheikha Sana Al Maktoum is a proud entrepreneur and founder of an eponymous jewellery brand, Sana Al Maktoum Fine Jewellery. Last year, the down-to-earth Sheikha debuted the brand with the ‘My Treasure’ collection, using butterflies, a tribute and a symbol of her gratitude to her late grandmother, after whom she was named. Each piece honours the memory of the elder Sheikha Sana Al Maktoum, one of Dubai’s most remarkable women, as it encourages women to embark on a journey to find their inner strength and purpose.

“Butterflies are symbols of transformation and beauty and my grandmother grew up at a time when options were limited for women, but she didn’t let that stop her,” Sheikha Sana told Emirates Woman in an exclusive interview. “She found a way to shine and to help others shine which is why I consider her a treasure.” Taking inspiration from her grandmother has taken the young Sana on her path to entrepreneurship and womanhood. Her Highness’ warm and gentle nature belies her fierce determination to stand on her own two feet and her keen awareness of the world around her.

Her Highness Sheikha Latifah Al Maktoum


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Emirates Woman’s September 2020 – ‘The Power Issue’ cover star, Her Highness Sheikha Latifah Al Maktoum is known for honing a champion mindset. Sheikha Latifah has spearheaded sports for women in the UAE. She’s an equestrian athlete who competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, becoming the first woman to represent the UAE at the Olympic games. Having had a love for horses since she was a child, she realised from a very young age that she wanted to pursue showjumping.

In an interview with Emirates Woman, Sheikha Latifah previously recalled when she realised she wanted to pursue the sport saying, “When I was thirteen, I saw the Dubai Show Jumping team training and I thought to myself, I want to be on that team. Realising that I had to prove myself, I worked really hard and made the team. Eventually, my goal was to attend the Asian games and be on the UAE Show Jumping team, it was my first Nations Cup and UAE won their first-ever medal in showjumping and being on that team was such an amazing experience and I was hooked ever since.”

Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Al Maktoum


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Emirates Woman’s November 2020 – ‘The Fine Jewellery Issue’ cover star Sheikha Mozah Al Maktoum has risen to great heights in the aviation industry, by being the first Emirati woman to join the Dubai Police as a helicopter pilot and serving her country. Having broken down many barriers during her career thus far and paving the way for many women in the region, Sheikha Mozah says she’s done this by staying “head on with full force”.

“The biggest hurdle for me has been starting to pursue my dream at such a young age,” she previously told Emirates Woman. “It meant being surrounded constantly by people with more experience and more confidence than me and always being under constant pressure to not only measure up to them but also exceed and be the best I could be, consistently. I tackled it then the way I approach everything: Head on and with full force. The only way out it’s through, and that’s how you build resilience.”

Captain Salma Al Baloushi


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Captain Salma Al Baloushi is the first Emirati female to rise to First Officer’s rank at Etihad Airways. While she had never thought she would pursue a career path in aviation, she knew she’d be “someone or something” in the UAE after seeing a photo of Captain Aysha AlHameli, the first Emirati female pilot when she was in primary school. It was only after she had a sign from her grandmother which when she decided to pursue aviation.

“During my studies in nursing school, I had a life-changing experience,” she previously recalled in an interview with Emirates Woman. “My grandmother was admitted to the same hospital I was training in, and once she asked me to help ease her back pain, so I hugged her and asked, ‘Are you feeling okay?’ She said, ‘Yes, I feel like I’m flying. I wish I could see you flying someday, you will have your wings.’ Two days later she passed away. Later on, Etihad Airways announced that it was offering aviation scholarships, and I felt like it was a sign, so I left my job as a nurse and never looked back.”


Yasmin Al Mulla

Yasmin Al Mulla

Emirati designer Yasmin Al Mulla, the Creative Director of YNM Dubai, knows very well the grit, determination and hard work it takes to follow your true passion in life. Her main drive? Being able to positively represent the UAE within the global fashion market, as she previously told Emirates Woman. Yasmin has gone on to collaborate with global luxury brands including Tiffany & Co, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Christian Louboutin, showcasing Emirati designers on a worldwide stage. “This region brings nothing but magnificent opportunities on daily basis,” she told us. “I would love for every woman to follow her passion, believe in herself and take every opportunity to fulfill her dream.”

Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi

Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi is an Emirati businesswoman who is the Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development for the United Arab Emirates. She has held the position since October 2017. Previously she was the Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs from February 2016 to October 2017. Moreover, Al Kaabi was previously appointed as a member of the Federal National Council (FNC) from Abu Dhabi.

Nora Al Matrooshi


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Nora Al Matrooshi is the first female Emirati astronaut not only in the UAE but in the Arab world. As a qualified mechanical engineer, the 28-year-old always dreamed of becoming an astronaut. “This is a life-changing opportunity,” she previously said of her new role. “The dream I’ve had since a child has come true. Now, I’ve started dreaming bigger.” She is truly is an inspiring role model for all the aspiring female astronauts out there, who wish to be in her shoes someday.

Yasmin Baker

Emirati aerialist and aerial Nike brand ambassador Yasmin Baker is all about breaking down stereotypes. “There are so many Emirati and Arab women who champion bravery and dispel stereotypes about capability and about the region in general,” she previously told Emirates Woman. “It is so empowering for the current times and for this part of the world. Arab women have worked hard to break the ice in politics, academia, business, science, sports, arts and to normalize the idea men and women can achieve if we are resilient.”

Salama Mohamed

Having amassed a huge fan base with her satirical videos and beauty tips, Salama Mohamed consistently highlights the need for an individual to love themselves. Previously opening up about her own difficulties with self-love due to her skin condition vitiligo, Salama told Emirates Woman, “It was a struggle growing up when you feel you are different and don’t fit in it is easier to think there is something wrong with you.” Over the years, Salama changed her mindset and now believes she is “blessed” despite what may appear to be different. Embodying this mantra, she recently launched her own skincare brand, Peacefull.

Asma Hilal Lootah


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Asma Hilal Lootah is a woman of firsts and has paved the way in the wellness space in the UAE after opening the first fully certified health clinic and wellness centre – The Hundred Wellness Centre – in the country in 2008. With a truly entrepreneurial spirit, it was Asma’s love for Pilates that sparked her to launch The Hundred nine years ago. Discussing her journey to becoming an entrepreneur in the region, Asma previously admitted to Emirates Woman it can be “hard sometimes”.

“Often, when I am in the process and working away, I get so caught up in my current focus that I don’t always recognize everything we have achieved,” she explained. “It can be hard sometimes, women can be stereotyped, and we do face challenges, but I try to focus on how my work can help others, and myself. It really warms my heart when I receive kind words, nice feedback and hearing about how the centre has impacted someone’s life. The small sentiments from our clients fill me with pride.”

Amna Al Qubaisi

Amna All Qubaisi is the first Emirati female racing driver. As a young female breaking down barriers, Amna has previously shared with Emirates Woman her hopes for more women to enter male-dominated feels. “Seeing many women in male-dominated positions reaching the top of the top and being the best of the best [is something that stands out to me in the UAE],” she said. She also shared her hopes for more women to do so and “normalize what’s considered a male-dominated area”.

Jouhayna AlMheiri


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Jouhayna AlMheiri is one of the only Emirati Air Traffic Control Officers on the planet. She’s also the founder of Jumpstart Aviation and social media manager and speaker for WAI-ME (Women in Aviation Middle East Chapter). Recently speaking at the Women in Aviation General Assembly as the Master of the Ceremony, she encouraged all women to “please push for your dreams”.

Dr. Lamees Hamdan

Dr. Lamees Hamdan trained as a doctor at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. She’s now the owner and founder of powerhouse beauty brand SHIFFA, which she created due to being unable to find the natural products she was looking for in the luxury market. “As a consumer, I wanted something I couldn’t find – I wanted a high-end organic skincare line that delivered results – so I assumed that perhaps other people wanted the same,” she previously told Emirates Woman.

Dr.Eng Suaad Al Shamsi

Dr. Eng Suaad Al Shamsi is the first UAE female aircraft engineer. With a degree in aviation management and in aerospace engineering, Dr. Suaad has reached great heights, inspiring the younger generations of the future.

Areej Al Hammadi

Making history as a Guinness World Record Holder for the most football ‘hotstepping’ in one minute, Emirati footballer Areej Al Hamadi has made brave steps towards normalising women playing football in the region.

“When I was growing up, women’s football was unheard of,” she previously told Emirates Woman. “To even dream of being part of something that didn’t exist at the time and keep pursuing it is brave because it meant taking a risk and some criticism along the way. But I think the bravest step I took was pursuing my dream and playing for the National Team.”

Amna Al Haddad

Amna al Haddad has defied stereotypes by becoming a positive figurehead for women in the region. As an Olympic weightlifter and also by being the first Emirati and GCC national to compete in Asia’s regionals, she later on also became a part of Nike’s latest campaign on inner strength, as she continues to push herself to the limit.

Speaking with Emirates Woman for October’s – ‘The Bravery Issue’ in 2020, Amna said, “Bravery is doing or speaking up about something that is uncomfortable that leaves a positive impact on you, others and society at large – whatever that looks like.”

Her Excellency Dr. Maryam Matar

Dr Maryam Matar

For the past 16 years, the UAE Genetic Diseases Association has been conducting pioneering research in the field under the strong leadership of its founder and chairperson Her Excellency Dr Maryam Mohamed Fatma Matar. What led Her Excellency to place a focus on genetic disorders in her medical career was the evidence she came across during her studies and the start of her career.

“Worldwide evidence suggests that prevention of genetic disorders is the most effective way to reduce, and manage genetic disorders and I decided to dedicate myself to more learning and implementing this evidence to better handle our national health challenge,” she previously told  Emirates Woman. This led her to found the volunteer-led NGO to tackle some of the most serious genetic diseases known to humans including genetic blood disorders, Alzheimer’s, Autism, cancers of different kinds, celiac diseases and more.

Her Excellency Reem Al Hashim

HE Reem Al Hashimi

Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimi was hugely instrumental in Dubai’s winning bid to host Expo 2020. As well as being Director-General for the Dubai Expo 2020, she is also the UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation. She became a cabinet minister in 2008. She is also chair of Dubai Cares, a children’s education charity established by Sheikh Mohammed in 2007.

Dr. Nadia Bastaki

Emirati Women's Day 2020 Dr Nadia Bastaki Etihad

There’s not many women that can say they’re paving the way in a male-dominated field, but this rings true for Dr Nadia Bastaki – the first Emirati woman to be registered as a specialist in Aviation Aerospace medicine. She is now the Vice President of Medical Services at Etihad.

“It feels great – it’s a big achievement,” she previously told Emirates Woman of breaking down barriers. “While it was important to be the first, it was more important to excel in what you do and be recognised as a leader and expert in my field. Also, I was the first woman to be promoted to the executive level within Etihad which was a big milestone in my career. Most importantly, it’s what difference you can make and how you as a woman can contribute to the success of the UAE.”

Muna Easa Al Gurg

Muna Al Gurg - The Philanthropist

Besides being a leading Emirati businesswoman, Muna Easa Al Gurg is also a passionate philanthropist who believes in giving back to society both on a local and a global scale. By joining the family business in 2000, she’s managed to scale it, while being part of the second generation of this 60-year old family business. By empowering women in the workforce, the ESAG group has also given mothers greater flexibility in their work-life balance, while Muna also introduced maternity leave to 90 paid days which was approved by the board at the start of 2020. Through donation drives and education, Muna has given back to society by supporting children in need.

Fatima Al Qubaisi

Fatima Al Qubaisi is the first Emirati woman to graduate from Harvard Law School. She is now a fully qualified lawyer practising in the UAE and continues to champion and advocate for fellow females in this country.

Nayla Al Khaja


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Nayla Al Khaja is the first female director and producer in the UAE and she takes this responsibility of being a woman of firsts very seriously. “I see the messages and emails I receive from girls wanting to follow in my footsteps, and I don’t take this lightly at all,” she previously told Emirates Woman. “It drives me to do more, push boundaries and have my voice heard.”

Sara Tamimi

Sara Tamimi is the founder of her own eponymous fashion label that is constantly transforming and pushing the boundaries of conformity. From creating pieces that are symbolic of timeless elegance to reflecting the energy of urban life, Sara keeps the wearer’s needs in mind as she explores opulent textures and unique fabrics through her work.

Sheikha Al Mheiri

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Being an accomplished entrepreneur, Sheikha Al Mheiri brings her creative acumen to the table. She’s the brainchild of Society Café & Lounge and the founder of MAD Investments (Make A Difference), the hospitality group, which are the creators of premium signature hospitality concepts in the UAE. By bringing fresh ideas and innovations, she’s constantly raising the bar for branding and brilliant design, by inspiring women on a daily basis.

Zahra Lari


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Known as UAE’s first female professional figure skater to compete in a hijab while also being titled as the ‘Ice Princess of the UAE’. With her growing prominence in the sport, she has defied all odds and broken down barriers to inspire generations of athletes to chase their dreams. By leading the UAE to become the first figure skater to participate in the winter qualifications last year, she has inspired over 100 Emirati women to lace up their skates and hit the ice.

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