And breaking glass ceilings while they’re at it
From these eight amazing women to a local Royal wedding on the cards, there’s a lot to celebrate this Emirati Women’s Day.
To celebrate, we’ve taken a look at five rising stars who have done incredible things in their different fields. From arts to business, we look forward to watching these women’s careers thrive over the coming years.
Nouf Al Afeefi
The first female Emirati air traffic controller has been credited with helping to modernise aviation. Training for three years at Sheikh Zayed Air Navigation Centre while studying part-time for an MSc in Air Safety Management at City, University of London, she became the first Emirati citizen to receive the Air Traffic Controller Certificate. She said at the time: “Air Traffic Control is a field that has always been dominated by men and it is a great challenge for a girl like me to enter this field.” She’s also described representing women in the UAE as a “great honour”: “I would like to encourage them to pursue the most challenging careers.”
The first ever Emirati figure skater and UAE athlete to compete at the Winter Olympic Qualifiers in South Korea had an unusual start to her career – she was inspired as a child by the Disney movie Ice Princess. After visiting an ice rink for the first time, it cemented her decision to skate. As if 23-year-old Lahri hasn’t broken enough records, she’s also the first to compete wearing a hijab. Of her hopes to represent the UAE, she said: “I am so close now to my goal. And when it gets tough, I think of the world Olympics and what that means for my nation. That clears my vision and helps me focus on the goal.”
Sharjah’s first female firefighters
It’s not often you see a female firefighter in the Middle East. But these women can certainly rise to the challenge, becoming the 15 female firefighters in the region. Hired as part of Sharjah’s first Women’s Firefighting Unit, the landmark move sought to encourage more women to apply for jobs in industries traditionally reserved for men.
Co-founders of the Reach Programme
This non-profit mentoring programme, founded by several UAE-based businesswomen, empowers young female professionals to achieve their full potential through a year-long mentoring programme. Available to women at different stages of their careers, from the start to those at the top of the game, this is the first non-profit organization of its kind in the region. So far, 300 women have benefited from Reach, including job promotions.
Nahla Al Rostamani
The first female Emirati Formula 1 driver and the first to receive a racing licence has had more than her fair share of firsts – and setbacks: she was the only female racer when she started out, for one. Previously speaking to Emirates Woman, she expressed how she’d had her fair share of doubters: “I’ve proved I’m professional and passionate about motorsport. No negativity will bring me down.” Of working in the traditionally male-dominated motorsports world, she said she hoped her legacy would be “opening the doors for other women to succeed in this field. Then my 12 years of ups and downs didn’t go to waste.”