10 Exceptional Emirati Women Who Inspire Us
Meet the women who have pushed boundaries to show the world what Middle Eastern women are capable of.
Shamma bint Suhail Al Mazrui
From filmmakers to fighter pilots to ministers - these women have worked exceptionally hard to get to where they are in their chosen fields and we look forward to seeing what the future has in store for them.
Click through to see our pick of amazing Emirati women to be proud of.
1. Mariam Al Mansouri - Fighter Pilot
Mariam Al Mansouri is the first female fighter pilot in the UAE and paved the way for the acceptance of women in the air force. She obtained the title of commander and lead airstrikes against ISIS in 2014, becoming a role model for women all over the world. She has received many awards for her accomplishments including the Mohammed bin Rashid Pride of the Emirates medal.
2. H.E. Shamma bint Suhail Al Mazrui - Minister
Shamma Al Mazrui became the youngest minister in the world when she was appointed the UAE’s Minister of State for Youth Affairs in 2016. Although still young, Al Mazrui already has a long list of accomplishments including graduating with a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Oxford, interning at the UAE Embassy in Washington D.C and working as a policy analyst at the UAE’s diplomatic mission to the United Nations.
3. Nayla Al Khaja - Film Director
Nayla Al Khaja is the first female film director in the UAE and the first female producer in Dubai. She founded the film and television production company D-Seven in 2005 and has created commercials for many international brands including Gucci and BMW. Al Khaja also founded Dubai’s first film club - The Scene Club - in 2007, which has over 10,000 members.
4. Alia Al Mansoori - Student
Alia Al Mansoori shot to fame earlier this year when she won the Genes in Space UAE competition with her proposal to study how exposure to space affects the health of living organisms at a cellular level. At just 15, she hopes to become the UAE’s first astronaut and was invited to visit the launch pad from which Apollo 11 began its journey to the moon.
5. H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi - Minister
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi was the first woman to become a minister in the UAE as well as the first Emirati women to receive the Clinton Global Citizen Award. She is currently the UAE’s Minister of State for Tolerance before which she held the position of Minister of International Cooperation and Development.
6. Sheikha Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum - Athlete
Sheika Maitha is an accomplished athlete and role model for women’s sports in the UAE. She has competed in international karate, taekwondo and polo competitions and was the first woman from a Gulf country to carry a national flag at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
7. Zahra Lari - Figure Skater
Zahra Lari is the first professional figure skater in the UAE as well as the first international figure skater to wear a hijab. Although she has faced pressure and criticism from both her own family and Emirati society to stop skating, Lari has persevered and now hopes to qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics. She was featured in Nike’s ‘pro-hijab’ campaign earlier this year and her success has proved that sports and religion can go hand in hand.
8. Fatima Al Jaber - Business Woman
Fatima Al Jaber is one of the most respected and influential business women in the UAE. In 2009 she became the first woman to be elected to the board of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and is known for her work supporting the empowerment of women and young people. A trained engineer - she is currently the COO of the construction company Al Jaber.
9. Nada Al Bedwawi - Swimmer
Nada Al Bedwawi became the first Emirati swimmer to represent the country at an Olympic games during the Rio Olympics last year. She was also the first Emirati woman to represent the UAE at the swimming’s World Championships in 2015. She has said that she hopes to break the barriers holding girls back in the UAE and hopes to inspire them to start swimming professionally.
10. Azza Al Qubaisi - Jewellery artist, designer & sculptor
Azza Al Qubaisi made a name for herself as the first jewellery artist in the UAE. Bucking tradition, she decided to study art at the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London and has never looked back. Al Qubaisi founded the design jewellery workshop ARJMST in the UAE where she hand-makes beautiful pieces of jewellery inspired by the natural world. She also founded the Lamst Ibdaa initiative in 2011 to support up-and-coming designers in the country.