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Emirati Women’s Day: Celebrating The Inspiring Women Of The UAE

In this unique interview series, we dive into these women’s aspirations and hopes for the future. Happy Emirati Women’s Day!

Emirati Women’s Day is an annual celebration of the achievements, successes and empowerment of the women of the nation and their inspiring stories. This year, 28th August will mark the seventh annual Emirati Women’s Day that was first established in 2015 by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi, Mother Of The Nation.

"Inspiring Reality…Sustainable Future" is the theme of 2022’s edition of Emirati Women’s Day and looks to highlight the country’s journey with the notion of female empowerment, which was a key goal when the UAE was first established 50 years ago on 2nd December, 1971 by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who prioritized investing in human resources. Believing that people are the true wealth of the nation, he also prioritized gender equality.

This year’s theme will not only highlight the achievements of Emirati women, but also will look to promote the inspirational image of Emirati women, as well as the promise to continue to develop the capacities of the future generations of Emirati women.

The women of the UAE have been trailblazers across a number of fields and industries – from being ministers in government, entrepreneurs, designers, doctors, sportswomen and more, to being homemakers and nurturers – often juggling a busy work schedule and family life and doing it so seamlessly.

As continues to support Arab women and their endeavors, today is all about Emirati women and we asked some of them, who work across a number of industries, including fitness, law and business, what Emirati Women’s Day means to them and what they hope for the future of the women of the nation…

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Sheikha Al Nuaimi

Sheikha Al Nuaimi Ajman Free Zone’s Executive Director of Commercial Operations. Under her leadership, Sheikha oversees four key departments and for defining and managing the Ajman Free Zone's brand, Sheikha has received many awards and recognition for her work with the Ajman Free Zone. This includes the Project Manager Award (AJEP), which was awarded to her by H.H. Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ajman, in 2013. She has also been awarded with the Middle East Awards 'Future Leader in Free Zone Industry 2020 and is an experienced assessor across a number of government and private awards in UAE. Multitalented, Sheikha is also an entrepreneur and has been running her business for 8+ years. She is the owner of the first international franchise of Smallcakes – with the brand having over 100 branches in the US. The first branch in UAE was established in Dubai in 2014, and it didn’t take long for the brand to find its footing in the country’s food and beverage sector.

Awarded The Woman Entrepreneur of the Year at the Global Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference and Awards 2022, among other significant awards, asked Sheikha…

What is the significance of Emirati Women's Day to you? 
The Emirati Women’s Day is one that highlights the achievements of Emirati women in all fields and of all different generations. It’s a not just a day on which we call for empowerment or ask for as the UAE puts forward a unique example of women empowerment and its women continue to excel in various fields actively participating in driving the nation’s development.

Who have been the Emirati women that have inspired you in your life?
There is no specific Emirati woman as I found that every proud moment of knowing or hearing about Emirati women’s achievements is an inspiration by itself. The support that men provide and stand proudly with a daughter, mother, sister, wife, or colleague is a motivational and empowering moment.

What do you hope to see for the future of Emirati women in your field of work?
When it comes to my field in commercial operations, there are many Emirati women in leadership roles and what I’m looking for is having more Emirati women in this sector and specializing in it in depth.

As an entrepreneur, there are a lot of leading Emirati women that make me feel proud, especially when they touch a new line of business and become creative and quality providers. I’m looking for more collaboration between entrepreneurs, men and women, as equals, rather than competing. I always encourage those around me to complete and not compete, and to shine and impact the economy positively.

What makes you proud to be an Emirati woman?
The country which I belong to has always made me proud. The remarkable success stories of Emirati women always makes us proud to keep adding to our achievements and keep growing.

What message of empowerment can you share with the next generation of Emirati women?
Being an Emirati woman is a responsibility. It calls for us to give back to leaders, family and supporters. It’s also a responsibility to highlight your skills as an Emirati woman and excel in various fields and industries, whilst also respecting our religion and culture.

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Sara Al Boom

Sara Al Boom is a 29 year old Emirati group fitness instructor and personal trainer who started her health and fitness endeavors in 2018 by taking on some freelance work. Once faced by the perils of the COVID19 pandemic and the closure of gyms and classes, Sara made the decision to transition into fitness on a full time basis to provide training to those who were missing it. Al Boom’s passion in a job that takes endurance, determination, commitment and discipline is highly inspiring and she told about what Emirati Women’s Day means to her…

What does Emirati Women's Day mean to you?
It shows great strides in how the country views Emirati women as patrons of society. Over the years, many women have become trailblazers across several disciplines- be it in government, medicine, or space. I believe that unprecedented women and their unparalleled achievements are due to the belief our leadership has bestowed on them.

Have there been any Emirati women that have inspired you in your life and who are they?
I'm grateful to have been surrounded by the women in my family who pushed their limits and proved to themselves that they have so much potential in whatever path they embark on. I have a strong support system that made me realize that I can do what I love, as well as give back to my country.

What do you hope to see for the future of Emirati women in the health and fitness industry?
Deciding that I wanted to leap into the fitness industry full-time was like finding a needle in a haystack. It was a difficult decision and one that I felt could be quite a challenge because I did not have any female role model to look up to in the field itself. I hope that many women would possibly see it as an opportunity to do something they love - whichever path they choose. Fitness is an evolving industry, and more people will become privy to its importance, so I hope for women to wake up to the fact that it could be more than just a hobby.

What makes you proud to be an Emirati woman?
Growing up, I was always in a situation where I was the "only" Emirati. Be it in a classroom, university, my close friends came from different nationalities - it was in several aspects of my life that I would "stand out" as the only Emirati. I never saw it as a bad thing, I took pride in representing my nationality when needed. I was very fortunate to carry my country's flag when traveling across the world to spread about the UAE's mission and showcase my country's ambition for the future. I take great honor in doing so, and this is why no matter what chapter I embark on in my lifetime I will always ensure that being an Emirati woman in today's climate has so much more to offer.

What message of empowerment can you share with the next generation of Emirati women?
My favorite quote is "The carousel never stops turning" - we must always look forward no matter what obstacle comes our way.

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Hoda Barakat

Hoda Barakat works in the legal field, and is a lawyer. Having been practicing law since 1991, Hoda studied and worked in the UK and has been practicing law in Dubai since September 1995. Her area of specialization is intellectual property (IP) which was little known in about in the Middle East when she had started her career. Working at a law firm in Dubai as head of their IP Department, she managed and grew the department to over 30 lawyers specializing in the same before she went on to become the Managing Partner of that firm. Since 2011, Barakat has been running her own law firm - Hoda Barakat Legal Consultancy and deals mostly with clients from the Government and private sectors. Moreover, she sits on a number of boards and committees including the Emirates Intellectual Property Association and is the current President of the UAE branch of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI-UAE). Awarded the DQG Emirates Business Women Award in 2005, Hoda also has a family and is the mother of 3 young men aged 25, 21 and 18. Inspired by her career and commitment to her family, asked her about her role as an Emirati woman…

How do you resonate with Emirati Women's Day and what does it mean to you?
It is the recognition of what Emirati Women have achieved. There are many wonderful Emirati women who fought many odds to reach great heights. On this day, they are being recognized and rewarded for that hard work and perseverance. This day also gives young Emirati women the opportunity to dream and to inspire them to achieve.

Which Emirati women have inspired you throughout your life?
Sheikha Lubna Khalid Al Qassimi was a real trailblazer in my time. She was the first female Minister and was well educated, well-spoken and a real role model for many women (Emirati and non-Emirati).

What do you think the future of Emirati women in your field of work needs to be like?
Today is very different from when I started my career. Although there are many female lawyers today who have reached senior positions, the legal profession is still male dominated. So, we need to continue to strive to increase those numbers and to ensure that women have a level playing field and to give them the resources to balance home and work life.

Why are you proud to be an Emirati woman?
Truly, what makes me proud is the direction and the messaging from our leadership. The UAE leadership has given a clear direction and strategy that women are equal and that they are able and capable of being in the highest positions. Today, we have 9 female Ministers. What an achievement!

What words of empowerment would you like to share with the next generation of Emirati women?
Women reached where they are today by believing in themselves and working hard. Ensure you have a good support network around you as that is a great help when trying to balance life and work. I am also a big believer in mentoring younger women so make time for that; it is very rewarding for both parties.

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Buthaina Al Qubaisi

Buthaina Al Qubaisi is an Emirati Social Researcher, who has been integral in the research towards writing about one of the most important landmarks of the immortal heritage of the Emirates - the pearl with its diving locations (hayarat) and diving to collect its oysters, its merchants, its position and its distinct value from the pearls of the whole world. Buthaina obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of the UAE and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Streams and has since published several books, including the Book of Jewelry and Clothes for the Tribes of Bani Yaas from 1850 to 1950, and The Last Precious Pearl. Moreover, Buthaina is committed to her role in government for over fifteen years and her participation in writing in local newspapers and periodicals. With all this under her belt, we asked her about her feelings towards Emirati Women’s Day…

How would you describe Emirati Women's Day?
Emirati Women's Day is a symbol of the status of women in our country and recognition of their efforts and that they are strategic partners in development and progress.

Who have been the Emirati women that have inspired you in your life?
There are many inspirational women in the history of the UAE, especially the women of the ruling families and consorts of the sheikhs due to the role they played in raising the awareness of women and their status in society, especially the mother of Emirates, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, may Allah protect her. It has had a great impact on my soul and are a reference to my first steps on the path of knowledge and attachment to history, heritage and the environment.

What do you hope to see for the future of Emirati women in your field of work?
There is no doubt that every field of work has its own specifics and preparations, whether in terms of mental or physical, and what I wish for Emirati women in this regard is to arm themselves with passion, science and knowledge and to possess important tools in every field and field to be able to be creative and distinguished and to serve the work system effectively.

Why are you proud to be an Emirati woman?
When I look at the history of the UAE, I know that the most important achievements are the union and the establishment of the state, which was considered impossible under the conditions of the region. Here, I feel proud of the role of Emirati women in this achievement, which I do not doubt that they contributed strongly to it, as the rulers’ wives and mothers of the sheikhs had a place to influence due to the relations of the lineage and intermarriage between all the ruling families in all the emirates, and of course these social relations existed throughout the country among the people from families and tribes, and this shows the extent of the strength of women in our society and its impact on the formation of hearts, reunification and unification of ranks.

What empowering message can you share with the next generation of Emirati women?
The most important message for future generations of Emirati women is to preserve the state’s gains and capabilities. This means to preserve and persevere when facing challenges, have awareness and willpower, always raise the ceiling of ambition, and participate effectively in the development and renaissance plans alongside men- hand in hand in every field. In addition, its important to carry out their most important mission in building a family and raising children to raise a strong and capable generation that contributes with all loyalty and affiliation to raising the status of the state and achieving its desired goals.

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