Celebrating UAE’s female power this Emirati Women’s Day
KT salutes some exceptional Emirati females who have played a successful role in the UAE’s development.
IT'S A TIME to recognise the country's ladies and their contribution to the UAE's ongoing prosperity. We always look forward to August 28, not just for the events, but because achievements are brought into focus and platforms established to make the coming 12 months even more successful. One such platform is Flow's free-to-attend Emirati Women's Day Panel, taking place on the ground floor of Emirates Towers Boulevard from 12pm - 2pm today. Chaired by champion weightlifter and motivational speaker Amna Al Haddad, attendants will also include the founder of the cado gifting app, artist, designer, entrepreneur and advocate for women, Leila Al Marashi - both of whom we have met to get their views on what the day of recognition means to them. Joining the duo in our chat is the only Emirati pastry chef in the Middle East, Sahar Al Awadhi, who plies her talents at, where else but the Burj Al Arab Hotel. What a line-up!
What does Emirati Women's Day mean to you and how do you mark it?
Amna: It is a testament of the progressive leadership, we have in the United Arab Emirates and the country's continuous support of providing women with ample opportunities, accepting their various contributions to society, and acknowledging their achievements.
Leila:It's a special day that I feel very grateful for. I feel grateful that our leaders want to recognise the role Emirati women play in shaping this society. I never turn down any media opportunity that comes my way for this day - to inspire others, give back, and thank the country. I would recommend that we as Emirati women use this day to reflect back on previous years and think of what we could do better to progress and continue to inspire. I am looking forward to interacting with likeminded, inspirational women as part of Flow's Emirati Women's Day panel.
Sahar:It means a great deal to me and makes me really happy that there is such support for the day. Within Jumeirah there are lots of activities at different properties and at Burj Al Arab this year we are hosting a panel discussion for our Emirati colleagues, which will also be attended by influential Emirati women from the community who have been invited to attend and take part in the discussion and a Q&A session. It's such a great start to the day to hear from these women who are driven by their passion and it re-energizes your motivation to do more.
How proud does it make you feel that the UAE has a dedicated Women's Day? Do you think it is an example for other countries?
Leila:I feel very proud. Yes, it sets an example and all women in the world should be recognised: from mothers to career women. They are raising the future generation, while also earning an income at the same time so should be recognised. It's not easy to be a modern woman in this new world. It's much more demanding and challenging than it was for women in the past so women should be celebrated for their ability to multi-task and maintain the right balance.
Sahar:Extremely proud. Our leaders have been extremely supportive and have put Emirati women at the forefront of development, making sure that we are given equal opportunities to contribute to the growth of our society. They have given us a day dedicated to the awareness of Emirati Women's achievements - that's inspiring.
How do you think being from the UAE has helped you achieve your personal and career goals? Do you think you could have made it as far if you had been from somewhere else?
Amna:As a young, yet ambitious country, its citizens reflect the same characteristics. Being from the UAE has provided me with an opportunity to pave a path for women in the sports field in a way that my contributions have led to leaving an international mark in the sports industry on numerous occasions, reflecting positively on the country's progressiveness toward its women and their achievements. I believe we are our own destiny and path creators, regardless where you come from. If you have the will, you can make it. I had to create opportunities where there wasn't before, and now it is changed as a result of my personal goals and actions. In the UAE, you have the chance to create your own opportunities and path.
Leila: No, I would not have been able to. The UAE provided me with so many platforms, so much support, incentives, and encouragement to be whatever I wanted to be and to shine. I am very lucky and fortunate for all the opportunities that came my way. I was able to express myself through art, fashion, tech, communications, all of them enriching and beautiful opportunities to grow.
Sahar: I believe having a sense of patriotism allows you to set the bar higher for yourself. As much as you want to be proud of your own achievements you want your community to be proud of you as well and, because we are such a small community, everyone is rooting for and supporting each other to make sure we succeed not just at a national level. Today I am proud of say that my fellow Emiratis in the industry are competing at an international level working with chocolate, coffee and gelato to name a few.
What message do you have for people of both genders and all ethnicities this Emirati Women's Day?
Amna:True tolerance is acceptance and practicing unconditional love for all human beings, regardless of where they come from, social status, ethnic background, job position, gender, or their perceptions of the world. Live and let live.
Leila: Pay it forward. Support other women rise, help one another. Learn new things, never put each other up for failure.
Sahar: Don't underestimate your capabilities and believe in yourself, all of the other resources for success have been made so easily accessible to us by our leaders.
As well as achievement the day looks to the future - what future hopes do you have for Emirati women in the UAE, the region and the world?
Amna: More acceptance toward the diversity that exists within the UAE community. Not all Emirati women or men are the same, not everyone has grown up with a similar upbringing, resulting in a diverse Emirati community, that still needs to be fully adopted by society. Emirati women have contributed to a variety of fields, some unconventional and nontraditional, and are as important as those who are contributing at the government level toward the country's vision.
Leila: I hope we have a promising sustainable future, that tackles climate change, pollution, and is a healthy place for our future generations, a place where we are all united, there is peace everywhere, and we speak the same truth and language, and become a learning innovative universal community. A world where intellect and science prevail above all else.
Sahar:I feel fortunate to be part of a generation of Emiratis who, as change and decision makers in our country, are pushing the boundaries to breaking stereotypes and misconceptions. Our future is now, our actions are going to determine the next generation's path and we all have a responsibility to contribute to it. Make the changes you want to see.