Strength through adversity

Dr Raja Al Gurg is the managing director of one of the UAE’s leading business corporations, the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group. We sat down with her to discuss her new book, Raja Al Gurg: An Autobiography. Her book charts the growth of Dubai and tells the story of how she became one of the region’s most respected female business leaders.

What inspired you to write your autobiography?

We tell our stories to transform ourselves; to learn about our history and narrate our experiences, transcend them and to use these stories to make a difference. My autobiography is also an answer to the many questions people have asked me regarding my progress as an Emirati woman. There is a curiosity about how I charted my path in what is considered as a space dominated by men.

Can you tell us a little bit about what readers can expect from the book?

As they read the autobiography, I hope there are moments which will connect readers with a young Emirati girl who began her journey with the selfless backing of supportive parents and retained her moral compass through the many curveballs that destiny had waiting for her. It’s a narrative on how to succeed, not just through opportunities that are presented to you, but also how to succeed despite challenges in your environment.

You’ve had an incredible career. What would you say to women who would like to reach a similar level of success as you?

There is no substitute for hard work. Also, remember that as a woman, do what you are capable of achieving, not to prove a point as a female, but to fulfil your own personal goals and aspirations.

I believe as women this should be how we chart our life’s path and career. No one can stop you from attaining your goals if your intention is strong and the commitment is clear. There are no short cuts. But the long road though filled with challenges will only enrich your journey and add to your strength.

What difficulties have you faced as a female business leader?

The first hurdle in the early years was that I was a woman in what was considered a man’s world. Many people thought I would stumble and give up. Making the transition from the field of education to the corporate world required courage and confidence in my ability to succeed in the face of doubting onlookers.

You used to be a teacher. How did your experience prepare you for running your current business?

Teaching is my passion, and I continue to mentor young women entrepreneurs through the Dubai Business Women’s Council. My tenure as a principal at Zabeel Secondary School was very fulfilling. Managing young girls who were at the cusp of adulthood required immense patience. It also meant masking iron discipline in soft gloves, to ensure that you earn both respect and admiration.

What advice would you give to young women?

Be sure of your goals and never waver from your path. Challenges are part of the journey, but how you face them and transform these into opportunities will mark the difference between success and failure.

Raja Al Gurg: An Autobiography is available now at leading bookshops across the UAE.

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Media: Supplied