Amal Mohammad Al-Shihhi photographed for the Zay Initiative’s ‘Draped in Heritage’ exhibition at Expo 2020 Dubai.
Amal Mohammad Al-Shihhi photographed for the Zay Initiative’s ‘Draped in Heritage’ exhibition at Expo 2020 Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Police on horseback often trot along with unbridled passion. Among these mounted police that patrol the city with considerable aplomb, is First Assistant Amal Mohammad Al-Shihhi, who was the first woman to join the Cavalry in Abu Dhabi Police. Upending norms in a field that’s historically dominated by men across the world, Amal is part of a growing number of young Emirati women who are emerging to the fore and building a path for the next generation in the sector.

“At the beginning, it wasn’t easy for me but when I put my mind to it, it helped me to succeed and accomplish my goals,” says Amal, who began her career in the police in 2001. She has risen through the ranks and served in administrative and field police departments before reaching the office of the Director of the Central Operations Sector. In 2019, she registered in a talent program organised by the Abu Dhabi Police to further hone her skills.

“The aim of the program was to discover and develop the capabilities of Abu Dhabi police workers,” she shares, adding that initiatives like this nurture team members and help them achieve their collective goals. In the same year, she joined the force’s horse-powered police unit and has been an integral part of it since then. Amal has made scintillating contribution to both administrative and field development in the Directorate of Drivers and Vehicle Licensing, Operations Management, Emergency and Public Safety, and Crisis and Disaster Management. She has attended two military courses and a specialised course to prepare knights in Abu Dhabi Police, and has been decorated with appreciation certificates for her contribution to the police force.

Among her impressive roster of skills is security negotiation and dealing with use-of-force cases, along with extending support to the families of female victims according to Interpol standards.

“The most important thing is to have empathy,” she notes. “I put myself in the affected family’s situation and understand how they’re feeling. I always communicate with them with honesty and kindness. It’s integral to address their concerns with compassion.”

Amal takes pride in being part of the UAE capital’s police force that has been coveted for bolstering the role of women in leadership positions. In 2019, Abu Dhabi Police won the Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa Global Award, a joint initiative by UN Women and the Kingdom of Bahrain, which aims at demonstrating the impact of efforts by governments and other entities towards empowering women and girls around the world.

In 2019, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, and the Mother of the Nation, was honoured at the fourth Women Police Regional Conference in Abu Dhabi by the International Association of Women Police.

“The UAE has been a guiding light in women empowerment and has given us the opportunity to promote our credentials on both local and global platforms. Over the next 50 years, I’m sure that women will continue to shine and lead on all fronts,” Amal states.

At the Expo 2020 Women’s Pavilion, in collaboration with Cartier, Amal has been featured as one of the 20 trailblazing Emirati women who are part of the ‘Draped In Heritage’ photographic exhibition. The images, which are currently on view, have been curated by Dr Reem El Mutwalli, founder of The Zay Initiative, a non-profit organization advancing the preservation of cultural heritage through the collection and digital archiving of Arab attire and its stories.

Adorning historic outfits from the Zay collection, Amal was photographed in the setting of her field of work, as a celebration of her achievements and those of the women who came before her and paved the way for her and others. “I’m so proud of being named among such inspirational female achievers,” holds Amal. “I hope that this encourages other women to push themselves and assume leadership roles in various fields across the UAE.”

The exhibition was inspired by the words of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the UAE, “He who does not know his past, cannot make the best of his present and future, for it is from the past that we learn.” It was also a fitting tribute to the UAE’s 50th anniversary, as it offered a wondrous coming together of the past and present, whilst nodding to the future.

The piece that Amal wore in the photograph is on display at Zeman Awwal, a new cultural space at Mall of the Emirates, until January 2022. Amal shares that Abu Dhabi Police has also been making great strides in the cultural realm, especially with the launch of Al Ain’s Al Murabba Police Museum in 2019.

Housed in the former Al Murabba Police Station, the museum stands adjacent to the Al Murabba Fort, which was built by the late Sheikh Zayed in 1948. Inside, are sections dedicated to the evolution of police forces throughout history and the development of Abu Dhabi Police since the force was first established by the late Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan in the late 1950s.

Items on display include photographs, uniforms, cap badges, and equipment used by the police, along with items used by the late Sheikh Zayed himself. “Initiatives like these showcase the UAE’s rich traditions to both citizens and tourists,” notes Amal. To young girls who wish to follow in her footsteps, Amal says, “My advice to you is to do your best and join me in this field to show the world what UAE woman are capable of. Believe in yourself and trust your abilities, so you can protect and serve your country.”