With Emirati Women’s Day being marked today, we meet three ladies proving women are integral to the UAE’s success.
Words: Rachael Perrett
In local tradition, women have always been the backbone of family life and the wider community. Today, Emirati women continue to play a vital role in the development of the country. The UAE boasts the world’s youngest minister, and it’s estimated that 70 per cent of university graduates in the UAE are women. Despite barriers they may face within their own family or from society as a whole, Emirati women are making themselves known, striving for great things and acting as role models for the next generation.
In honour of the third Emirati Women’s Day (28th August, 2017) here are three fabulous females who are setting an example for girls and women in the UAE and abroad.
Muneera Al Hubail
Hoping to inspire a new generation of women both inside and outside the realm of fitness, 29-year-old CrossFit athlete Muneera Al Hubail is a force to be reckoned with.
After taking up CrossFit in January 2015, self-confessed couch potato Muneera has gone on to compete locally, regionally and internationally and now knows the value of setting goals and going for them.
Recognising the important role women play in UAE society – “If it weren’t for so many women, men wouldn’t be where they are now!” – Muneera says much of what women are able to achieve in the UAE is down to vital support from all sides, from family and friends, right up to the UAE’s leadership.
“The government sees the potential in women and they’re now stressing to have 50 per cent of ministers to be women. We have the youngest (government) minister in the world who’s a woman (Shamma Al Mazrui, 23, minister of state for youth affairs) so this just shows the support they’re getting. I think girls should use that wisely: if they have a dream they should try to accomplish it because we have the support. They have a lot of people to look up to and so many opportunities they can take.
“Barriers are meant to be broken. If you just respect yourself and don’t show yourself in a disrespectful manner to your culture, you can do anything.”
Aysha Al Naqbi
At just 14, this young Emirati has already accomplished more than many adults. As the youngest published author in the UAE – she has two novels: Blue Moon and Emerald Planet – Ayesha is showcasing the role that Emiratis have to play in the arts and cultural sectors.
It’s no secret that reading and knowledge are at the top of the agenda for the UAE government in its long-terms plans, and Aysha is at the helm of this, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps.
Speaking recently at a talk with New York University, Ayesha said, “I am fortunate to be surrounded by such supportive people in the UAE, especially strong, powerful Emirati women who have inspired me to reach higher and continue developing my talent. My advice to young people is to not be afraid to follow your dreams, whatever they may be.”
Laila Mostafa Abdullatif
As the newly appointed director general of the Emirates Wildlife Society – World Wide Fund for Nature (EWS-WWF), Laila is in charge of taking the environmental organisation into its “next exciting era”.
The UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed, was a huge advocate for the environment, and Laila hopes to continue this legacy by promoting responsible use of resources, spreading awareness in the community and adopting a ‘can do’ attitude.
“The environment is important to me, as it should be to all of us, because everything that supports the survival of humans is dependent on it. The wellness of the environment directly relates to our wellness and health, as well as every other species on the planet. Our local heritage is also deeply rooted in the physical environment, which provides us with remarkable beauty that we can all appreciate, and which we need to preserve.
“As an Emirati, I am truly grateful to be in a position to make a real difference to our nation’s wildlife and natural resource conservation efforts – two things I am deeply passionate about. I hope that what I do inspires more girls and women to love what they do, and do what they love.”