When it comes to fine examples of female empowerment we needn’t look further than the UAE. Right here we have some of the most inspiring women of the century, smashing that glass ceiling, destroying stereotypes and defying misconceptions.
Yes, they are women of the Middle East but that gives them no more reason not to shine and achieve the unexpected.
In honour of the second ever Emirati Women’s Day – it was launched last year by HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak to highlight the pivotal role of Emirati women in the community – we look at the most inspiring local ladies to look up to. As Queen Rania says: “empower a woman and you empower a society.” #GirlsPower
HRH Princess Haya Al Hussein
Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, uses her influence to help raise awareness for several charities and to help stop Islamophobia. At this year’s Arab Media Forum she said: “There were 73 million searches on Twitter about Islam or Muslims between May 2015 and May 2016 illustrating that people are interested in find out about the religion. However, the first five pages on Google show images of people blowing things up while shouting the simple phrase that we use every day and therefore it has become tainted.”
She added: “It is our individual responsibility as Muslims to protect our religion and inform others about its beauty.”
Princess Haya is an United Nations Messenger of Peace and works closely with several causes including the World Food Programme. She also pays attention to the health sector by supporting and initiating health programmes and projects.
Her Excellency Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness
Her job title garnered media attention across the globe yet it is something HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai is adamant is an important role in the UAE government.
He said: “Focusing on happiness is both feasible and fully justified… Studies have shown that happy people produce more, live longer, and drive better economic development in their communities and countries.
“The happiness of individuals, families, and employees, their satisfaction with their lives and optimism for the future, are crucial to our work, which cuts across every sector of government. That is why there must be a minister to guide and follow up with all government institutions (as well as provide leadership to the private sector).” Read his full speech here.
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. Read about her happiness mission here.
HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development
A regular at the top of Forbes‘ Most Powerful lists, Sheikha Lubna, who is a member of Sharjah’s ruling family, is also the Chairman and UAE Minister of international cooperation and development. She is also the first women to hold a ministerial post in the United Arab Emirates, and the first Emirati to receive the Clinton Global Citizen Award.
Amal Al Al Qubaisi, President of the Federal National Council
Dr Amal Al Qubaisi has made history by becoming the first woman in the Arab world to be elected as speaker of a national council. Dr Qubaisi said of being part of an important historical milestone: “I am proud to take this seat for the first time as a woman in the Arab world. I dedicate this achievement to the great women of the UAE, and to the Mother of the Nation, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak.”
Maryam Al Shamsi, Emirates Mars Mission Instrument Scientist
“In the Emirates Mars Mission, I am part of the science team,” said Maryam Al Shamsi of her vital role in one of the UAE’s biggest space missions. “I work as an Instrument Scientist for one of the three imagers known as the Emirates exploration Imager (EXI). In other words, getting the digitised data that’s coming from the instruments and converting it back into understandable physical parameters.”
She encourages other women to follow in her footsteps: “I hope my role on the Emirates Mars Mission encourages more women to go into science. If I inspire a person to learn and dream more by lighting even the smallest spark of hope, then I would love to proudly say that I have accomplished that.”
Lana Nusseibeh, UAE’s Permanent Representative to the UN
In her powrful role in the UN she is a voice of the UAE’s regional peace and security issues. She is responsible for reiterating the UAE’s continued commitment and adherence to the principles and objectives of the UN and its importance in global affairs.
Hind Al Owais, UN Senior Advisor
Hind Al Owais was the first Emirati woman appointed to UN position with the role of senior advisor for the UN headquarters in New York. In her position she works to ensure the integration of a gender perspective in the implementation of sustainable development goals. Her role in the UN sees her focus on United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
Reem Al Hashimi, Director General of the Dubai Expo 2020
Reem Al Hashimi was hugely instrumental in Dubai’s winning bid to host Expo 202o. As well as being Director General for the Dubai Expo 202 she is also the UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation. she 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