Reaching its eleventh year in true style, the Emirates Woman Woman of the Year Awards 2015 was as glittering an evening as ever, full of the chicest, most inspirational women (and men!) living and working in the region today.
Despite the threat of rain – and subsequent downpour – a beautiful crowd turned out in force at The Address Montgomerie Dubai, all there to celebrate the achievements of some of the most admirable women in the UAE. Bubbles were served in vintage-style glasses alongside delicate canapés which guests enjoyed on the lawn as a drone filmed the entire event from above. An exciting start to the evening!
In association with Rivoli Group and sponsors Maserati Al Tayer Motors, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Skin O2, Forevermark at Damas, Belle Femme, African & Eastern and Rashid Printers, the great and good of Dubai gathered to honour our 25 nominees, each making a marked difference to the UAE and beyond – in the realms of art, business, philanthropy and more.
Watch how the evening played out:
The master of ceremonies was BBC-trained journalist Shahnaz Pakravan, who opened the evening on stage by telling us the touching story of how her mother, Mariam Behnam, won the Emirates Woman Woman of the Year Award in 2010 for her humanitarian and activist work. Mariam, at the ripe old age of 94, had attended the awards last year – movingly, her last big outing before passing away two weeks later. An amazing woman, and a suitably inspiring role model for our nominees – both present and future.
Looking every inch the Dolce & Gabbana mama, Group Editor Sophia Serin took the stage to deliver a speech thanking the women for their courage, tenacity, vision – and the incredible mark they’ve made so far in making their dreams a reality. First up was the Artists Award (sponsored by Rivoli Group), which went to children’s author Rachel Hamilton. Rachel delivered a warm and witty speech that started with, “Words are usually my thing, but I’m so shocked that I really don’t have any!” We asked her later where she would be displaying her glass trophy – she told us it would be at the entrance of her house so it would be the first thing people would see on walking in.
Watch Rachel’s thoughts on winning below:
Sponsored by BCBGMAXAZRIA, next was the Achievers Award, won by Her Excellency Shaima Al Zarooni, CEO of International Humanitarian City, for her work supporting international aid agencies in their help of humanitarian crises in the region. An incredible category, and a very well-deserved award.
Her Excellency Shaima Al Zarooni on what winning means to her:
A new category for us, the Young Achievers Award was designed to honour the most promising under-25 year old women, already on the road to success. The inaugural winner was Environmentalist Simran Vedvyas. At just 16 years old she is a true inspiration, founding the SynergY youth group, who work to promote sustainability. “I’m so happy and honoured,” she told us humbly afterwards, her mum looking on proudly. A rising star to watch.
We caught up with Simran after she won:
The next category winners were announced (see below) in between a delicious three-course meal of burrata with vine leaves, stuffed cabbage and eggplant chutney, followed by rack of lamb with mograbia, koussa ablama and potato hara and a dessert of date pudding with vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce. Napkins came in handy towards the end of the meal – not just for placing on our laps, but as makeshift headscarves to protect numerous blow-dries from the rapidly-increasing rain. Many comedy selfies ensued.
Between the desert rain and the inspiring winners, there was a feeling that this was a truly unique, special evening. How often does it rain? And how often do you get to meet, mingle with and celebrate women who are dedicating their lives to making the world a better place to be?
Humanitarian Award (sponsored by Forevermark at Damas)
Winner: Stephanie Sutherland, Founder, Dubai Mums’ Helping Hands
Hear what Stephanie had to say about winning:
Visionaries Award (sponsored by Skin O2)
Winner: Ismat ‘Izzy’ Abidi, Founder and Creative Director, Freshly Ground Sounds
We spoke to Izzy after her win:
The Overall Emirates Woman Woman Of The Year Award
Winner: Her Excellency Shaima Al Zarooni, CEO, International Humanitarian City
Her Excellency Shaima Al Zarooni’s thoughts on winning the Emirates Woman Woman Of The Year Award 2015:
INSIDE THE GOODIE BAG | Guests were gifted with the following:
1 copy of Emirates Woman Magazine
A selection of SkinO2 products
FOREVERMARK by Damas mirror
A selection of L’Oreal Professional products from Belle Femme
Voucher to use at Heart & Soul spa in Al Barari
A discount voucher from ECCO
Discount Voucher from Design Mobl
African and Eastern Voucher
Gluten free Bio Break bars & fruit mix’s by Organik Food Trading
Indigo Living Look-book
A selection of hair care products from Platinum Black
Figs & Rouge Sheer and Shimmer Clear Lip balm
No. 7 Lipstick
Bath & Body Spray
A voucher from Vani days
OPI Nail Polish
Vita Coconut water
WHISH products from Cosmetology
Foot Magic cream from Palmers
Body cream by Bellefontaine
Images: Farooq Salik, Kristina Nabieva and Syed Ali