Dubai: Emirati Women’s Day is celebrated on August 28. On the occasion of the Year of the 50th in UAE, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, announced that this year’s theme for Emirati Women’s Day will be ‘Women: Ambitions and Inspiration for the Next 50 Years’.
Keeping that in mind, Gulf News met some of the successful Emirati women in UAE and asked them to share their thoughts on what this day means to them and their role in shaping the nation.
Khadija Al Nuaimi is the first Emirati woman to work under the Production Quality team at Veolia Middle East — a group that designs and provides game-changing solutions for water, waste and energy management. A graduate in chemical engineering from the UAE University in 2016, Nuaimi has always been passionate about the environment. Her goal is to contribute to helping the UAE achieve a greener tomorrow, with a sustainable lifestyle as a focus. And she has all the support she needs from the leaders of the UAE, her colleagues, friends and family. Today, she is an empowered woman and responsible for all that she dreams of and goes out to achieve.
“As Emiratis, we are blessed with a government that offers us every opportunity to grow and succeed. Emirati women have equal opportunities as men in every professional field. Being an Emirati woman means there is no limit to your ambitions. I am inspired to gain all the knowledge and experience I need to contribute to the nation, particularly in the energy and environment sectors, which are two of the most important sectors in the UAE,” said Al Nuaimi.
Working in the wastewater treatment field
She said that working at the VeBes wastewater treatment plant in Al Ain opened the doors to many career development opportunities for her. “I first started working in the laboratory, and when I asked for opportunities to go into the field, the department was very supportive of my ambitions. I have achieved several milestones in my career that I am proud of. I am the first Emirati woman to work within the Production Quality team at Veolia Middle East. During my first year working at the VeBes plant, I was named ‘Best Employee of the Year’, and I recently received my internal auditor certification in ISO 17025:2017.”
Celebrating the success of Emirati women ahead of Emirati Women’s Day is Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa). The utility service provider organised the 7th Emirati Women’s Forum virtually as well as physically on August 26. It was held in the presence of Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Managing Director and chief executive officer of Dewa.
In a video interview, Al Tayer said: “I am pleased to join you today in celebrating Emirati Women’s Day 2021 under the theme ‘Women: Ambitions & Inspiration for Next 50 Years’. Female employees at Dewa record daily achievements that guide our global excellence and leadership journey. They spare no effort in serving the nation in all fields,” said Al Tayer at the forum held to celebrate Emirati Women’s Day 2021.
According to Al Tayer, there are 1,943 female employees working across various divisions in Dewa. “This includes 720 women in the engineering and technical sectors and 311 employees in managerial positions. Emirati women constitute 81.5 per cent of the total female workforce at Dewa,” he said.
'A special moment'
Fatima Al Jokar, chairperson of Dewa Women’s Committee, said: “The Emirati Women’s forum is now considered a sustainable and unified platform to showcase the successful stories of Emirati women. We are celebrating 50 years of the UAE. That is why this is a special moment to highlight their achievement. On behalf of Dewa’s female employees, I would like to express my gratitude to the top management of Dewa, which provides all the necessary support to our female employees. It equips us with all the capabilities needed to enhance the Emirati women’s position as a key and effective partner in society, supporting the Dewa Women’s Committee to excel in their work and helping female employees to keep pace with the changes. This helps maintain their position as a role model and a key partner in sustainable development,” she said.
Al Jokar has a message for Emirati and expatriate women in the UAE. “Never stop dreaming, for the UAE is a country where dreams come true. There are many opportunities. As women, we should be ready to grab these opportunities.”
'Taking a lot of pride'
Khawla Al Mehairi, executive vice-president of strategy and government communications at Dewa, said: “The day demonstrates the immense trust laid down by the UAE leaders on Emirati women. It demonstrates the support we have received from our forefathers and leaders. They have encouraged and supported us in areas of women empowerment. The day signifies the sense of pride we have for ourselves and the nation. We take a lot of pride at Dewa in saying that men and women are equal. Today, there is no stereotype male job. Our women work shoulder to shoulder with men and have been very successful in their jobs.”
Dr Nawal Al Hosany, the UAE’s Permanent Representative to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) said Emirati women have become an engine driving advanced science, technology and innovation capabilities. “This is thanks to the steadfast support of the UAE’s leadership, especially the Mother of the UAE, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak.”
She said Emirati women today are role models in many sectors. “They are crucial to realising our ambitions to build a brighter future for generations to come, as the UAE prepares for the next 50 years and sets out to achieve the objectives of the UAE Centennial 2071.”
'A direct beneficiary of UAE leadership's plan'
Fatma Abdulla, senior vice-provost, Strategy and Planning at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) said: “As an Emirati woman born before the formation of the Union, I was witness to an unprecedented period of rapid social and economic transformation for the UAE and its people. As a first-generation high school and university graduate, I am a direct beneficiary of the UAE leadership’s plan to empower women. The opportunities I had were not available to my mother. And today, my daughters have even more opportunities than I did. With opportunities comes responsibility. We ought to remember our past for we stand on the backs of those who came before us, to contribute to the present and to help create the future. The UAE has done an incredible job in enabling Emirati women to make choices about their future. These choices include equal access to all levels of education, both in the UAE and overseas, and employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. An empowered woman is one who has the support of her family, community and society to achieve her dreams and aspirations.”
'Remarkable impact of Emirati women'
Dr Ayesha Mohamed, vice-president, Research and Development, Omics Centre of Excellence and Biobank, G42 Healthcare, said that every Emirati woman is proud to be born at a time when she can actively contribute to the unprecedented evolution her country is going through. “Fifty years have passed so quickly and the Emirati women’s impact on the country’s development is remarkable. This has been made possible, thanks to the support of our leadership. Personally, I feel privileged to be a part of one of the breakthrough national initiatives, Emirati Genome, which is uniquely positioned to revolutionise health care in UAE and beyond, using artificial intelligence. As an Emirati woman and scientist, I’m ambitious, determined and inspired to carry on with my passion for my country and my work. Also, I hope to inspire young Emiratis, especially women, to pursue their passions, particularly those interested in careers in science.”
'Nurturing future generations'
Dr Dalya Al Muthanna, president, GE UAE, and global chief of Strategy and Operations for GE International Markets, said: “Women play an important role in nurturing future generations and preparing them for the skills of the future. This year’s celebrations coincide with the ‘Year of the 50th’ and provide a valuable opportunity for Emirati women to follow in the footsteps of the founders of the nation to further strengthen the reputation of the UAE globally.”
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'Women driving discussions and action'
Habiba Al Mar’ashi, co-founder and treasurer, EmiratesGBC, said: “I have always believed that an Emirati woman stands for ambition, and over the past years, we have witnessed how our women have led from the forefront in every sector — from space exploration to environment management. This has been made possible because our leadership believes in the significant role that women play in nation-building.
"At Emirates Environmental Group and Emirates Green Building Council, we have women driving discussions and actions on positive climate action and working towards the green vision of our nation. In the next 50 years, women will play an even more defining role and make compelling contributions to support the UAE Centennial 2071 goals.”