Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the UAE to the United Nations in New York since September 2013
The UAE has become an international example that I am proud to represent every day at the United Nations. Out of 193 member states, we are doing our part not only for women in the UAE but also for women globally. We do this by supporting various initiatives and programmes at the UN that seek to recognise the agency of women and their empowerment as a powerful force for positive change and development.
We will continue to strive to do better because we believe in excellence. Emirati women have advanced to the highest levels across all sectors — in science, technology and innovation, the judiciary, and our government.
A core component of the UAE development model is to support women in senior leadership and decision-making positions. We do this because not only do women comprise 50 per cent of the population and it is the right thing to do, but because we know that when women are empowered to become leaders in their communities, societies are more prosperous, tolerant, and stable for everyone. In our view, women are integrally linked to the security of our nation.
The UAE leadership places great value on women’s empowerment. In February 2015, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the formation of the UAE Gender Balance Council, to integrate women as partners in building the country’s future. In March 2015, Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, launched an updated National Strategy for the Advancement of Women (2015-2021) which provides a framework for empowering women in all areas of sustainable development.
Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General — Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi
Indeed, women’s empowerment is not a rhetoric but a reality and a value woven into our nation’s identity. One can see this empowerment practised not only within our institutions but celebrated and reinforced in our communities and families.
I am very proud that the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) is a living testament of the country’s policy of advancing women in all fields. At EAD, women leaders comprise 44 per cent of the workforce across varying and diverse disciplines. For instance, we have marine scientists, air quality specialists, and terrestrial surveyors, in addition to women in the more traditional corporate services sector. The relatively high percentage of women in our workforce reinforces a system that is based on meritocracy. Our chairman, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has been keen to create a corporate culture to empower women.
On the occasion of Emirati Women’s Day, I stand proud of what has been achieved, thanks to the relentless efforts of Her Highness Shaikha Fatima. We are in a race against time to address the environmental impacts of the development of our nation and others across the globe. Women are a key element in our community, essential and active players in environmental conservation. They are at the heart of our efforts towards ensuring economic, environmental and social sustainability in our communities.
Noora Rashid Al Daheri, Cruise Terminal Manager at Abu Dhabi Ports is the first female Emirati cruise terminal manager in the UAE.
When I became the first Cruise Terminal Manager in a male-dominated industry, I was hesisistant about whether men would be reluctant to take orders from a woman. However, I noticed a change in the way people began addressing me after a while. First, they used to call me by my family name [Al Daheri]. Now they call me “Noora Cruise”. I felt, by adding my industry’s name with my first name, people recognised my presence [and contribution] in this sector. That has made me proud. I never felt that I faced any discrimination. I acknowledge that I am a beneficiary of the UAE leadership’s initiatives for women’s empowerment.
My executive team at Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal at Zayed Port is an example of women’s empowerment. Of the seven-member team, five are women. When I see women in all professions in the society, I feel proud as an Emirati. It is interesting to note that young Emirati women have many inspiring examples around them.
Nada Al Badwawi, Olympian swimmer who participated at Rio Olympics
It was an overwhelming feeling of joy to represent my country at the Olympics and a good way to represent Emirati women, which I believe, is something very important. I have had many young Emirati girls coming up to me and telling me that they want to be like me and to go on to become swimmers in the future. I found this very positive.
Men have usually been involved in many sports and so it will be good to have more Emirati sportswomen representing the UAE, which I hope will happen as the opportunities are there.
Being chosen as the flag bearer is one of the greatest honours one could have at the Olympics and it also sends a very powerful message from the UAE to the world about the role of women in the UAE — that women have a strong place in society and that the country supports its women and its youth as well.
Dr Aisha Bin Bishr, director-general of the Smart Dubai Office
The happiness and growth of our city into a sustainable and healthy living environment cannot possibly be achieved without the advancement of women’s talents, not only in the workplace but also at home. Nurturing a family while also marching forward in their chosen fields with passion and dedication, women of the UAE are essential partners in the nation’s sustainable development and it is a must that we celebrate our achievements as well as our aspirations for the future of this nation.
I urge every Emirati woman to keep working hard to play key roles in government and private institutions, to influence and inspire others, and help fulfil the UAE Vision 2021’s goal of making this country among the best in the world.
I would first like to take this opportunity to extend my congratulations to all Emirati women. I am extremely proud of the success and achievements of our women today.
Noura Abbas Ahmad, Head of Customer Service, Emirates Institute of Banking and Financial Studies
I have always been interested in committing myself to an industry that is both challenging and exciting. Once I joined the Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies (EIBFS) as Head of Customer Service, I was able to enjoy the best of both worlds. Part of my responsibilities at EIBFS include interacting and engaging with the nation’s top bankers and human resource managers, to help shape a vibrant career for bankers within the region. It is a role that deeply appeals to me, as I am able to make a direct contribution to one of the UAE’s most important industries — the esteemed banking sector. Emirati Women’s Day is a great initiative by the country, which reflects on those women who, for a long time, have played an important role in many areas of life at home and at work. There is no doubt that today many Emirati women are considered role models for the entire Arab world and beyond.
Badreya Al Dashti — Head of Public Sector and Contracting, Corporate Banking, Noor Bank
Professionally, many Emirati women today have pushed themselves harder to excel in their fields. This is something that is prevalent in the banking sector, as there are more and more women joining the financial services industry today. On a personal level, many Emirati women are respected role models for their families and children.
What I enjoy most about my role is that I am ‘giving back’ to the country that has done so much for us. The UAE banking sector is the backbone of the economy and, through my role, I am able to contribute to this industry. Every day at my job is also an exciting and new challenge. There is no routine; we are always looking at a new or innovative way of doing things — such as working with new people or working on a new transaction.
— With inputs from Sami Zaatari, Staff Reporter