A doctor’s commitment of love and care

An Emirati medical doctor believes that her profession is a great platform from which to realise the vision and values of UAE’s founding father, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

“Being a medical doctor is a lovely opportunity to express love and care for the society, and share with it the vision and values of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” Dr Marina Hamed Kazim Al Bastaki at Abu Dhabi Blood Bank under the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), told Gulf News.

Al Bastaki graduated from Josef Pavol Safarik University of Kosice in Slovakia in 2003, the youngest UAE doctor to have graduated when she was 22 years old.

She has been serving at the SKMC for 12 years since 2006. Since she joined the blood bank under the aegis of SKMC in June 2010, she has been conducting many blood donation drives that has helped save lives of those needed blood.

“Helping people is my goal … seeing them healthy and happy make me feel satisfied that I have done my best. Many women are in this profession due to their compassionate nature and sense of social responsibility,” Al Bastaki said.

“Shaikh Zayed’s vision has taught us that women’s empowerment is a priority for all of us. He encouraged us to work untiringly to ensure that we will always remain confident of our skills and take the initiative to launch [our] ideas and start [our] own businesses,” said Al Bastaki.

In her own family, this guiding principle has already inspired two women who Al Bastaki said are now her role models.

The first role model is Dr Zainab Kazim, the first UAE female gynaecologist, who has delivered most of the babies in UAE.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, honoured her with an award as a pioneer in her field in the UAE two years ago.

The other is Hala Ahmad Kazim, who is the first UAE female women’s rights activist. Kazim also received an award for the best Arab women [in their respective fields] from Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid last year, Al Bastaki said.

A communications professional, she believes in giving back to society

Emiratis are indebted to Shaikh Zayed for his benevolence, believes Aisha Al Khoury, 27. “I believe we share his vision that while we progress, we have to make sure that we give back [to society or to those who are less privileged elsewhere],” Al Khoury, a communications professional, said.

Her fellow countrywomen, she said, have successfully followed Shaikh Zayed’s vision of women’s empowerment. He had called upon Emirati women to follow in the footsteps of their sisters in countries that had already achieved progress and development, Al Khoury said.

“He built this country on the values of peace, love, and giving; and we feel indebted for everything that he has done and given,” Al Khoury said.

Shaikh Zayed was a legendary leader because he lived for his people and their betterment and he had a clear vision on how to advance the UAE, she said.

Thanks to his vision, the UAE today boasts of women occupying important positions in almost all sectors. “They are an integral part of our parliament [the Federal National Council] and some of them are ministers.”

Al Khoury said that Shaikh Zayed’s firm emphasis on education for women paved the way for UAE’s progress and development. His vision and ideals enabled Emirati women to become confident enough to claim their right to achieve more in life.

Shaikh Zayed believed in ongoing learning, a principle that inspired Al Khoury to pursue her master’s degree, “which I hope I can use to better the nation,” she said.

As an Emirati woman, she feels a sense of empowerment with the full support from the government to fulfil their educational and career goals. “We are not denied any opportunity. Rather, we get the opportunity to integrate with wherever we are needed in various sectors,” Al Khoury said.

She wants young Emirati women to work hard for the country, that has given them everything they need.

“Be courageous and adventurous in achieving your goals,” she urges her sisters.

“Women have the support from our leaders to develop our nation and this is the time to shine and stand side by side with our fellow Emiratis to further develop our beloved country as our founding father wished,” she said.

Making UAE the best country should be every Emirati woman’s goal

“Being an Emirati woman itself symbolises empowerment,” says Engineer Aisha Ahmad Al Mansouri who works with the Department of Energy in Abu Dhabi. “Since the time we were young, in school, we always felt equal and empowered and this was due to the wise leadership and vision of Shaikh Zayed,” said Al Mansouri.

Shaikh Zayed always offered equal opportunities for women and men in all fields, she said.

An educated Emirati women is guaranteed a professional career in the UAE, according to her. “We are welcomed to work in any field with no restrictions,” Al Mansouri said.

Emirati women occupying managerial and other top-ranking positions in UAE government and corporate sector proves that progress and empowerment is all theirs for the asking. And Shaikh Zayed was the source of that empowerment, said Al Mansouri. “His values always held that a woman is the heart and soul of society.”

Al Mansouri believes that as a woman, she gets the best of everything the UAE and therefore, she has to also give back the best to her country … “for all the great and inspiring things that have been given to me.”

 Being an Emirati woman itself symbolises empowerment. Since the time we were young, in school, we always felt equal and empowered and this was due to the wise leadership and vision of Shaikh Zayed.”

The fact that Emirati women are leading in all fields today proves that UAE’s vision of women’s empowerment has become a reality.

Every young Emirati woman, Al Mansouri said, should believe in herself, and trust her capabilities. Focus on education and knowledge about the wider world are the keys to success. The nation’s interests should be the top priority of every woman and they should aim to be the best, she said.

Young women have to choose the right career and look for the best opportunities. “Making the UAE the best [country] in the world should be their ultimate goal,” she said.

Enhancing research and conservation efforts for her country

Conducting fieldwork and spending hours surveying Abu Dhabi coasts and offshore islands may not be a typical job one would imagine a woman to hold. However, Amnah Khalifa Al Mansouri, assistant scientist, Marine Habitats - Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity at the Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi, says that she is experiencing women empowerment first-hand.

“This [job] makes me feel privileged, as I am fully supported and accepted as our government strives to support us in various fields without discrimination, based on the values of Shaikh Zayed,” said Al Mansouri.

 In November 2017, EAD launched the Women in Science and Environment (WISE) Trailblazers programme to empower female staff to drive transformative change within the workplace. The programme offers support for women to fulfil their role as key partners in building the future of this organisation and our nation.”

“Currently, I hold a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies, and I am looking to pursue my PhD in my line of work. Shaikh Zayed’s values and contribution to the conservation and protection of wildlife from extinction in the wild has always been my motivation to enhance research and conservation efforts in the UAE,” she said.

Her organisation has achieved great progress in women empowerment.

As of the end of 2017, there are 974 people from 32 nationalities employed at the EAD. “Emirati nationals make up 76.8 per of our total workforce, with 33.3 per cent of leadership roles occupied by Emirati women,” she said.

“At every level of our organisation, there are highly educated, ambitious women in science. investigating air quality, studying endangered species, discovering new falcon diseases and experimenting with the latest technologies.

We also have inspirational women in our support services, influencing policy-making, retaining and developing talent as well as innovating in environmental protection. While they make up only 20 per cent of EAD, they are an efficient, hard-working and dedicated force, which helps drive our environmental vision forward,” Al Mansouri said.

“In November 2017, EAD launched the Women in Science and Environment (WISE) Trailblazers programme to empower female staff to drive transformative change within the workplace. The programme offers support for women to fulfil their role as key partners in building the future of this organisation and our nation,” she said.