Dubai: A difficult journey begins with a single step. That's how Major Ateeqa Musabah Al Dhaheri, a Dubai Police officer, meet every challenge that comes her way. Today, she is the face and head of the Dubai Police Maritime Rescue Department.
She’s also the first female member of the team.
In her career, she recorded a number of firsts: she was the first woman to work as a Dubai Police duty officer. In that position, Al Dhaheri was charged with a host of tasks: supervising the progress of the security situation in the emirate and the command and control centre, following up all police stations; communicating with all duty officers in all sectors, following up important communications and emergency cases, and following up the workflow of traffic and security patrols.
Maj. Al Dhaheri thanks Lt. Gen. Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, and all Dubai Police commanders for their unlimited support and confidence in the female personnel.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf News Maj. Al Dhaheri shared her pride and joy in the service. On February 14, a call came from the head of the Command and Control Centre of the General Directorate of Operations, with the news that she was nominated for the shift to be the first female member to assume the shift duties at the centre.
“I felt very happy and proud of this news and thanks to my trust in Allah Almighty first and second in my abilities and qualifications to compete and be able to carry out such a task.
Maj. Al Dhaheri said: “When I moved to the department, I was surprised that there are 150 male working in the rescue division and there is no female… I was the first female officer to join this department.
“This is an achievement and a source of pride for me that is added to my career. During the shift, I received many phone calls related to reports and accidents in Dubai and chaired a meeting in the presence of a number of duty officers at the police stations in the Daily Brief Hall.
“Besides, I visit police stations where I meet the duty officers. During such visits, I follow up the security situation and fulfill the required tasks to the fullest, thanks to teamwork and the support of all colleagues from all public administrations and police stations.”
Today, a professional diver, Maj. Al Dhaheri recalls an incident when she a young girl. At about the age of 11, she nearly drowned. Since then, she did not practice swimming — until she joined the women’s team to lead maritime boats at Dubai Police.
“In February 2023, I received news that I was selected by the Director of the Ports Police Station to assume the duties and powers of the Acting Head of the Maritime Rescue Department, to be the first member of the department to assume this position,” she said.
Al Dhaheri obtained a post-graduate diploma in maritime security, the first female officer to obtain this distinction. “The women in the Dubai Police have proven their competence and excellence in work in all fields, including specialised fields.”
As a result of training and field experience she gained through the training program prepared by the centre’s experts and trainers, she was able to work in the Maritime Rescue Department.
“It is one of the most important departments that contribute to saving people’s lives and helping them in emergency cases at sea,” she added.
Maj. Al Dhaheri responded to four marine reports so far — two of them recovered body from sea, one drowning report , one combing the sea for security purpose.
The task of the force officer is one of the most important security operations, as the force officer supervises the security situation in the emirate.
Major Al Dhaheri said: “From my point of view, the challenge that women face is their competition with men and the practice of specialised tasks performed by men.
“In the dictionary, there is no work specific to men… so the challenge continues and, with determination, we overcome limitations and achieve results.”
Maj. Al Dhaheri said Dubai Police was and is still stimulating and proactive environment in empowering women in various police and security disciplines and fields.
She said that Dubai Police General Command is the key supporter of women in the force, as it enables them to work in the police and security field, and in all disciplines, and allow them to achieve a strategy of gender balance.
She also pointed out that women are involved in leadership positions that allow them to make the hard decisions. Their drive and ambition give them the impetus to assume leadership positions in police work.
Addressing the female component of Dubai Police, said said: “You are the sisters of men. The leadership has placed their trust in you. Your role is not limited to administrative and office work. You must have ambition to reach the top. You have accepted the challenge. You are able to achieve success after success, which in turn helps achieve strategic goals of Dubai Police.
Maj Al Dhaheri is rated to dive 30 meters underwater. She said it’s a sight to behold the marine creatures. As part of her personal goal, she continues training to dive deeper.
Maj Al Dhaheri joined the force in 1993 and carried out many tasks, including chief of women detention and police officer in the prosecution and courts station.
She worked as police officer in the General Department of Airport Security, Ports Police Station. Before moving to the women’s maritime team, she also fulfilled many tasks for the Archive Division, Customer Service Section, Customer Happiness Section, and the Women’s Council.
During her career Maj Al Dhaheri has clocked up notable achievements — 85 in all — including certificates of appreciation, badges of appreciation, medals, awards and other honours.
The most notable of these: winning the first place in the 21st Middle East Women Leaders Excellence Award in Police Sector 2020, the first place in the Director General Award in the category of Best Supervisory Officer in 2020, the second place in the Emirates Women Award in the category of Distinguished Employee 2022, the third place in the Dubai Police Commander-in-Chief Award for Excellence 2019.
Major Al Dhaheri aims to establish a women’s department specialised in marine rescue. The department has 9 points of rescue units and in future each rescue boat will have two personnel, male and female in the boat — where the male will intervene in incidents related to men and female will intervene in incidents relate to women.
Harnessing AI and robotics is part of the plan — the department will also use a robot to locate body of a drowning person, based on the information the robot is fed.
Maj. Al Dhaheri, in her 50’s, has five children — two girls aged 30 and 19 and three boys, ages 21,17 and 9.
She also has two grandsons.
Her father, her husband and children are her biggest backers, providing support and encouragement as she takes the next step forward.
Maj. Al Dhaheri said: “My two grandsons always told me happi: ‘Grandma we saw you on TV today; they were so excited.”