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Emirati engineer Khuloud Al Mazrouei, Deputy Project Manager, Etihad Rail, has come a long way in a short span of time. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Khuloud Al Mazrouei was born in Al Layyeh area of Sharjah, into a humble family in which she is the youngest, with seven brothers.

She is a pioneer, who in 2012 became the first female Emirati engineer to assist with the preparations for Stage One of the UAE’s first national railway network, Etihad Rail. Today, she is Deputy Project Manager at the prestigious project.

“I was delighted, to say the least, to work on one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the UAE, which is set to shape the future of logistics and transport across the country,” Khuloud told Gulf News.

“As an engineer, I always wanted to work on ground. Etihad Rail project enabled me to do so, providing a golden opportunity for me to achieve success as part of a big team that consisted of skilled and talented individuals. The railway sector is a new sector in the UAE, but it is a constantly evolving sector around the world, and I was keen to be part of this industry and contribute to the UAE.”

Roles and responsibilities

As part of her role, Khuloud oversees the progress of the work on site and provides guidance on the different elements of the project to ensure its successful completion. “I work in cooperation with different teams to carry out maintenance checks and create accurate specifications for the project, while ensuring carrying out the work in line with the best safety and security standards,” she said.

She is also responsible for reviewing the designs submitted by the contractors and approve them with the consultant.

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As part of her role, Khuloud Al Mazrouei oversees the progress of the work on site and provides guidance on the different elements of the project to ensure its successful completion Image Credit: Supplied

“I am responsible for ensuring the right implementation of work within the set schedule, by coordinating with strategic partners. In addition, I oversee the project’s progress in terms of management and finance and working to carry everything out according to the set plans and schedule.”

Khuloud also works alongside the contractors to supervise the training of engineers enrolled in Etihad Rail’s training programme along with the contractor.

Dream becomes reality

Khuloud said she is one of the privileged personnel to have joined Etihad Rail during Stage One of the project. “It was a dream which became a reality,” she added.

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Khuloud said she is one of the privileged personnel to have joined Etihad Rail during Stage One of the project. Image Credit: Supplied

Stage One of Etihad Rail, which extends over 264km from Shah to Habshan and Ruwais, became operational in 2016. “I remember at that time, when we used to go out on field visits to the site, the place was filled with high sand dunes and looked like a sprawling desert. Then, after we started our work, the features of the track started to become more visible, until the completion of execution of works, the arrival of the locomotives and wagons, followed by the testing phase.

“Since then, we have made continuous achievements in a short period of time, until the train was officially operational in Stage One of the project, which marked a great moment of pride,” said Khuloud.

Many milestones

With regards to Stage Two, Khuloud said she has been heavily involved in the development of the rail network, which extends over 605km.

“As a team, we have achieved great milestones in Stage Two of the rail project. One of the biggest achievements here has been completing the main railway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Other key milestones and achievements have been completing the excavation of all tunnels of the network, and completing Package A, which connects Ghuweifat with Stage One of the project. Our diligent efforts have put us on the right track towards the completion of the network as per the set schedule where we have completed 75 per cent of the work within only 28 months. Today, we are reaping the benefits of our hard work and efforts in this project, and will continue to complete the UAE National Rail Network across the UAE.”

The journey

Khuloud’s journey in the field of engineering began after graduating from the UAE University (UAEU) where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. She commenced her career as an engineer at the Roads and Facilities Department at the former Ministry of Public Works and Housing, which is currently the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure. Afterwards, she was appointed as the Head of Project Planning at the ministry, where she received several awards as a result of “my commitment and passion for my work”.

From 2007 to 2012, she served as the Director of Planning at the Department of Civil Development – Engineering Office.

Strong leadership, mentors

Khuloud is thankful for the UAE's strong leadership and support that has been instrumental in achieving great milestones for the country. Image Credit: Supplied

Khuloud said: “I would like to thank our leadership who supported us along the way and helped us in achieving great milestones that support the country’s development. On the technical side, I had the opportunity to learn from great leaders and industry experts, who took part in developing my skills, expertise, and knowledge in the rail sector. Etihad Rail’s leaders and management also played a key role in my success on a professional level. With their belief in the abilities of Etihad Rail’s employees, we managed to achieve outstanding results and continue to realise great achievements and successes.”

Supportive family

Khuloud credited her personal achievement and growth to her mother and her husband, both of whom have instilled in her a desirable quality of passion and dedication to work.

“My mother could not read or write, but she instilled in us values, morals, love to our homeland, and commitment to our work. She was my main supporter who encouraged me to study civil engineering. I made her dream a reality by earning my engineering degree. On my first day of job at the ministry, she accompanied me to work. These moments were significant in making me go on with my journey and work diligently to get to where I am now,” said Khuloud.

She added that her brothers and her husband have always supported her passion for work. “My husband understands the nature of my job and is always supporting my growth in this field. Frankly, he is my primary supporter in ensuring I have a work-life balance.”

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Khuloud attributes much of her success to her supportive family too. Image Credit: Supplied

Khuloud enjoys fine arts and travelling. She said: “Travelling particularly is important as it helps me get back to work with positive energy.”

About Etihad Rail

Etihad Rail was established in June 2009 under Federal Law No. 2, with the mandate to manage the development, construction and operation of the UAE’s national freight and passenger railway network.

Eventually, Etihad Rail’s 1,200km network will extend across the UAE, from the border of Saudi Arabia to the border of Oman. Construction on the UAE’s network is 70 per cent complete.

The Etihad Rail project has been divided into various stages. Stage One has been operational since 2016 and runs 264km from Shah - Habshan – Ruwais. Stage Two spanning across 605km is under construction since January 2020; it runs from Ghuweifat – Fujairah.

The entire project consists of four Packages: Ghuweifat to Ruwais (139km); Tarif to Saih Shuaib (216km); Jebel Ali to Sharjah (94km) and Dubai border with Sharjah to Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah (145km).