her Excellency Dr Maryam Matar

Founder and Chairperson of the UAE Genetic Disease Association (UAEGDA)

Maryam’s grandmother was a traditional medicine woman and when she died, Maryam watched how she was mourned by all the people she healed. “That day, I decided I wanted to be a physician and touch people’s lives,” says Maryam, who has gone on to achieve this goal by establishing a non-profit organisation to tackle genetic diseases in the UAE. Her numerous achievements include establishing public awareness campaigns such as UAE Free of Thalassemia 2012, which has been credited for the pre-marital genetic screening law. Maryam says she would be proud to win the Emirates Woman Woman of the Year Award, as it shows what has been made possible for Emirati women with the great leadership of our country. In the future she hopes to win a Nobel Prize for science. “I feel so lucky because miracles always come my way and the right people stand beside me,” she says.


Basma Al Masri

Co-Founder of SuperHope

Growing up in Saudi Arabia, Basma’s family instilled in her a passion for helping the less fortunate. Since moving to Dubai she has worked extensively in marketing and advertising and, on teaming up with her creative business partner, Tarik, the pair decided to combine their skills to help sick children. SuperHope was launched last April at Comic Con, and the first initiative turned seven children battling cancer into superheroes. “SuperHope is founded upon using creativity to boost a child’s positive mental attitude,” says Basma, explaining that this can enhance their ability to fight illness. She hopes to eventually create a portal to connect children facing battles. “Our children are our tomorrow, and their health is their wealth,” she expounds.


Kay Ivanova

Founder of 38smiles

Three years ago Kay and her husband moved into a new villa in Dubai and found some very sick kittens in their garden. They took them to a vet and, once they were well enough, found them new homes. “It was villa number 38 and 38smiles was born,” explains Kay, who hasn’t stopped rescuing animals since. “We strive to help the strays of today become the pets of tomorrow,” she says. Kay juggles her role as an animal activist with a career as a freelance group exercise instructor. However, she insists she doesn’t need to find time to rescue animals, as it’s something that she does without thinking. “When I see an injured animal, nothing else matters,” she explains. At the moment she’s working to raise awareness about the consequences of having pets in a transient city and hopes to become a registered charity, but her ultimate goal is to continue saving as many animals as possible.


Lina Nahhas

Founder and Chief Dreamweaver of The [sameness] Project

On a trip to Palestine in 2008 Lina realised that to create positive change in the world, human beings need to have more empathy for each other. She took this awareness, along with her 15 years’ experience in market research in the Middle East, and created The [sameness] Project. Her goal was simple. “Make people see beyond their differences and tap into what makes them innately human in their stories of pain and joy,” she says. Lina has achieved this through projects such as Water For Workers, where UAE residents hand out cold water to construction workers in the sweltering summer, provoking a brief moment of interaction between two different, yet similar, people. In just three years, she and her team have spread the message of sameness in all sorts of projects, raising awareness locally and internationally. Recently they were named one of the top 13 empathy projects in the world.


Muna Harib

Founder of Breathing Numbers

As Global Head of Internal Communications and Marketing at TAQA (Abu Dhabi National Energy Company), it’s difficult to believe that Muna finds time to run a project helping Syrian refugees. Yet Breathing Numbers has made significant change, including providing 1,200 blankets, 200 gas heaters, 250 caravans, and medical care for more than 500 people. “The name came from constant frustration watching the news and wondering who’s behind the statistics,” explains Muna. The project has also helped tell the stories of individual refugees in order to raise awareness in the UAE. In the near future, Muna hopes to produce a documentary, achieve charity status, and expand efforts to Palestine. “It’s an addiction I can’t take a break from,” she says. “Once you save a life, then you get a taste of what life truly means.”