These high-flying figures have seriously impressive CVs.
They make up nearly 30 per cent of the UAE’s current cabinet, but what do you know about the nation’s female ministers?
If the answer is very little, then allow us to help.
Back in October, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced a cabinet reshuffle in the UAE, with nine women making up the 32-member strong group.
In November, all the current ministers took their oaths before the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, also in attendance.
“We are leading a new phase for the UAE, enriched with science and technology, and we seek to build the future for many more generations to come,” said HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid.
“We have national priorities to address and we must meet our people’s expectations to reach the desired objectives. We will spare no effort to provide a prosperous life to the people of the UAE.”
So, with no further ado, allow us to introduce the nine female ministers that make up the UAE cabinet.
HE Reem Al Hashimi
Reem Al Hashimi – who holds a master’s degree from Harvard University – was hugely instrumental in Dubai’s winning bid to host Expo 2020 (so we’ll be hearing lots from her in the next three years).
As well as being Director General for the Expo, she is also the UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, and became a cabinet minister in 2008. She is also is chair of Dubai Cares, a children’s education charity established by Sheikh Mohammed in 2007.
Last September, Al Hashimi revealed the UAE’s plans to welcome 15,000 Syrian refugees into the Emirates over the next five years.
“Ultimately, we must offer a source of hope for displaced persons that allows them to maintain dignity, return home, reintegrate themselves into their societies, and rebuild their countries and their lives,” she told a UN summit.
HE Noura Al Kaabi
The twofour54 chairwoman and Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development has made huge leaps in growing the nation’s media industry.
Al Kaabi, who came in 15th place in Gulf Business’ 2017 list of 100 Most Powerful Arabs, is also a board member of the UAE’s National Media Council, Image Nation, and Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
In 2014, she was named as one of Forbes Middle East’s 30 Most Influential Women in Government, and we recommend following her on Twitter (she frequently shares super-insightful articles).
She’s also a passionate advocate for improved maternity leave for women in the private sector.
“The most important thing is how each entity can be flexible in promoting that and giving women the choice of having a long or short maternity leave and having women come back where they are refreshed and ready to work,” the Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development told The National last month.
HE Hessa Buhumaid
The new Minister of Community Development, revealed in the October 2017 reshuffle, is responsible for “promoting family cohesion and a community that is actively involved in development of the UAE”.
UAE-educated Buhumaid holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the American University of Sharjah, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Business Sciences from Zayed University.
The minister also studied in Singapore, gaining an Executive Diploma in Public Administration from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
She previously worked as the assistant director general for Government Services in the Prime Minister Office at the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future.
HE Jameela Al Muhairi
Jameela Al Muhairi was appointed as the Minister of State for Public Education Affairs in 2016, the first woman to hold the post.
Prior to joining the Cabinet, she helped develop a Quality Assurance System for schools in Dubai, while working as the chief of the Dubai School Inspection Bureau.
UAE University-educated Al Muhairi also served as the executive director of Dubai Knowledge Village from 2004 to 2008, and boasts more than 20 years’ experience in the education sector.
“The trust placed by UAE’s wise leadership informing the new cabinet will inspire me to exert greater efforts in serving this country,” she said on her appointment last year.
“Together, we will build on the development goals highlighted in the national agenda while ensuring the happiness of our students.”
HE Dr Maitha Al Shamsi
Dr Al Shamsi became Minister of State in 2008—a post she still retains—and chaired the Marriage Fund until February 2016.
Holding a doctorate in sociology from Ain Shams University as well as a Master’s in sociology from Alexandria University, the academic works closely with Mother of the Nation HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak as one of her advisors.
She’s taken part in many UN meetings, discussing everything from women’s rights to issues around population and migration, and is a keen advocate of the UAE’s efforts to increase female empowerment, often speaking out in support of the Gender Balance Council and the Dubai Women Establishment.
Last year, Dr Al Shamsi revealed women now occupy 66 per cent of jobs in the public sector, one of the highest rates in the world, according to state news agency WAM.
HE Ohood Al Roumi
While the title of Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing might seem “fluffy” at first glance to those not in the know, Ohood Al Roumi will be quick to tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth. She takes a practical view of the subject, telling the Los Angeles Times of the brand-new role: “I assure you, it’s a science.”
“It touches on medicine, health, social sciences. We’re trying to bring it from a broad framework into a daily practice in our society [and] in our government.”
“What is the purpose of government if it does not work toward the happiness of the people?” she asked. And we couldn’t agree more.
Before being appointed as a Minister of Happiness, Al Roumi was a Director-General of the Prime Minister Office, and the first Arab member of the Global Entrepreneurship Council (GEC). She also has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) and a Bachelor’s in Economics.
HE Shamma Al Mazrui
Minister for Youth who is actually young – makes sense, right?
Well, that was exactly the idea when 22-year-old HE Shamma Bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui was appointed the UAE’s Minister of State for Youth Affairs.
“Youth represents some half our Arab societies, so it is only logical to give them a voice and role in governing the nation,” said HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai.
Al Mazrui, who took up the position in February 2016, has been recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s youngest cabinet minister.
Al Mazrui was born and raised in Abu Dhabi, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from New York University Abu Dhabi. She was also the UAE’s first Rhodes Scholar, and graduated with a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Oxford in 2015.
HE Maryam Al Mehairi
She’s the new Minister of State for Food Security, a keen supporter of women’s leadership, and an environmental engineering expert.
“The UAE government is providing strong support for women’s careers. My advice to young women is not to be afraid of any challenge and not to let their gender hold them back,” she told The National in 2015.
“Women in the UAE need to take the risk and know that they can achieve a lot,” she continued.
Al Mehairi has bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Rhenish-Westphalian Technical University in Germany, and previously worked at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. She’s also come from a leadership role at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
HE Sarah Al Amiri
As the newly appointed Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, Al Amiri is looking forward to how the UAE can embrace the future.
“When it comes to science and technology, the leadership understands that we need to move towards a knowledge-based economy and one of the foundations of this economy is science and technology which we need to build upon and the government sector is one of the cornerstones of that economy,” she told Gulf News last year.
“The other cornerstones are the private and academic sectors. This brings different sectors to the table.
“This is a new era for the UAE. We’re always at the cutting edge of change in the region and that’s what we hope to see moving forward.”
Al Amiri, who holds a bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from the American University of Sharjah, is also the Chairperson of the UAE Council of Scientists as well as the Emirates Mars Mission deputy project manager. (Yes, she’s part of the team heading up the UAE’s space exploration project to the Red Planet).
Images: Dubai Media Office