UAE women example to Arabs: Princess Haya

DUBAI - One year after marrying Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Princess Haya bint Al-Hussein of Jordan believes UAE women are an example to Arabs of how to combine modernity and tradition.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sun 17 Apr 2005, 4:09 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:05 PM

Princess HayaIn her first interview with Western media since the wedding, Princess Haya, told AFP of her belief that women can be modern and still respect Arab and Muslim traditions, as they do in the United Arab Emirates.

“In my work and in our family gatherings I have closely been watching women in the Emirates, and I am in great admiration of them... and I never fail to be amazed at the way in which they combine modernity with Arab and Muslim traditions,” she said.

“I have so much respect for the way they balance the two, and genuinely believe that an UAE woman can serve as an example of a modern Muslim woman, to the rest of the Arab and Muslim worlds.

“They are proof to me that an Arab woman can be modern without feeling the need to be Westernized, as examplified in the role of Sheikha Fatima, the president of the General Women’s Union, and widow of the former president of the UAE Sheikh Zayed, she said.

“I am not saying that we should not exert efforts across the Arab and Muslim worlds to further better our chances on the legal and socio-economic and political fronts, but we must respect the women’s choices themselves and to encourage those who simply want to live according their own dreams,” she added.

The princess -- daughter of the late King Hussein and half-sister of King Abdullah II -- who will celebrate her 31st birthday in May, headed Jordan’s equestrian team before her marriage and is still a keen rider.

The passion for horses -- along with poetry -- was what united Princess Haya with the energetic Dubai crown prince.

“We share a great passion for horses and equestrian affairs, and that was actually one of the main issues we shared in common when we first met,” she said of her husband who is also Defence Minister of the United Arab Emirates.

“As time passed, we soon realised that we also share a passion for poetry and writing as well, for Muslim and Arab history and culture, and for preserving and enhancing our traditions. Much of both of our work is dedicated to this end,” she said.

“His vision and commitment truly inspire everyone around him. He still retains the innocence of a child. He makes it, like he dreams it,” she said of her husband.

Issues relating to youth, as well as health and education, are dear to her heart.

“These issues are of particular importance to us because they form the basis of life and determine the quality of life of individuals and communities,” she said.

“My work in these sectors is another way to ensure that I am in touch with people at the grassroots level, and this is of utmost importance to me,” she added.

Her mother, Queen Alia, was killed in a helicopter crash in February 1977 as she was returning from a visit to a health center in southern Jordan.

Over the past several months Princess Haya has carried out extensive visits to Dubai’s public hospitals as well as private health centers and has now embarked on similar fact-finding tours of public schools in the emirate.

“I always relay what I see and hear during my visits and meetings” to Sheikh Mohammad, she said.

The princess, who took part in Olympic equestrian competitions, said she would continue to work in that field.

“This has been my life-long profession and my passion, and had also been a dream of my father, who had always supported me in my ambitions to compete globally,” she said.

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