Abu Dhabi: Fatima Obaid Al Jaber is a modern-day UAE woman with a difference.
An engineer by training and entrepreneur by vocation, she is a role model for many starry-eyed aspirants as she has juggled professional and family life with élan and carved out a niche for herself in her incredibly successful family business.
She is Chief Operating Officer for the Al Jaber Group, an Abu Dhabi-based multi-billion dirham construction giant.
Fatima graduated from the UAE University in Al Ain in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in architectural engineering.
Between 1988 and 2005 Fatima worked with the Abu Dhabi Government in various technical and managerial positions.
In 2007, Fatima was voted by Forbes Arabia as the seventh most influential woman in the Arab world and one of the most influential businesswomen in the region in 2008 by MEED.
She was also named the Businesswoman of the Year by Arabian Business and the Construction Industry Personality of the Year for 2009.
Fatima sits on the Al Jaber Group board of directors as an executive director. Gulf News spoke to Fatima at the Al Hosn University in Abu Dhabi, where she had come to lecture budding female engineers.
Her advice to the youngsters was that they should believe in their capabilities and learn from their mistakes.
"I have never evaluated people on their gender, only on their capabilities. Believing in your abilities is a very key issue," Fatima told the students at the Women in Engineering conference.
"I had the support of my family to become an engineer," said Fatima, who is married and the mother of five children.
She reminded the students that women are a major factor of change in society and that the students should approach life with confidence and aim to excel in their chosen vocations.
Commenting on her company's business outlook for 2009 and 2010 to Gulf News, Fatima said she expects the Al Jaber Group's turnover next year to be similar to the projected turnover for 2009.
"There are a lot of ambiguities in the market at the moment. Clients aren't sure about certain projects& there are no clear indications of whether these will be awarded."
Is it difficult for a woman to become a successful entrepreneur? Do you find it difficult to grow in the workplace? Does your employer provide enough tools to support your career?
i am happy to see a woman in a very good position. Congrats and all the very best for the challenging days ahead.
Joseph Maria Rex
Posted: May 02, 2009, 12:23
I am impressed only education can make the differences in the society. Education must be obtained at all levels and UAE authorities has so much potential to promote in this sector. To get good education money matters and I think UAE can do that.
Mohammad Amjad Ali
Posted: May 02, 2009, 11:45
For me i can say that as long as a woman has courage and bravery, successfullness isn't hard..except for some other reasons attained from the superiors at work.
Ras Al Khaimah,UAE
Posted: May 02, 2009, 09:07