Look: Emirati women's faces illuminate Expo 2020 Dubai

The collection of photographs documents the vital role that women played in shaping the UAE's history


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Sun 6 Mar 2022, 9:16 PM

Last updated: Sun 6 Mar 2022, 10:00 PM

The UAE Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will feature 30 photographs of Emirati women to mark International Women's Day and as part of the UAE Gender Balance Council's (UAEGBC) 'UAE's Women Face Print' exhibition.

At the heart of the exhibition is a painting of Her Highness Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

The exhibition is a women-centric collection of photographs, with the aim of highlighting the ways of life in the early days of the emirates before the establishment of the union.

There’s a narrative behind each face: A woman whose husband has gone into the endless nights of diving and fishing; a girl weaving wool as if she’s weaving her own dreams; a woman cooking with love and passion over everything else; a girl overjoyed with her new henna designs.

It also reflects the great efforts the UAE's founding fathers put towards equality and empowering women in all aspects of life, especially the great support of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Inspirational photographs

Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, President of the Dubai Women Establishment and wife of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, said: "Exploring the stories behind each unique and inspiring photograph transports us to the past with all its details and simplicity in celebration of the strength and resilience of the Emirati spirit, while also documenting the vital role that women played in shaping our history. The photographs were provided by the national archive of Al Bayan Newspaper.”

She added that each collection has been attributed to a meaningful word in the Emirati dialect to shed light on the Emirati spirit. There’s a narrative behind each of the four collections of photographs, but the photographs have one main purpose, which is to document the vital role that women played in shaping our history.

Sheikha Manal added that the exhibition, with its various collection of photographs, enriches the artistic and cultural diversity of Expo Dubai 2020 and strengthens global communication as it gives visitors the opportunity to explore the pioneering contributions of women since the founding of the union.

Giving and persevering

Mona Al Marri, Vice-President of the UAEGBC and Director-General of the Government of Dubai Media Office, said that Expo 2020 Dubai is the perfect platform to give a tribute to Emirati women.

The exhibition highlights contributions and inspiring presence of women in various aspects of life at the time, as housewives, teachers, farmers, craftswomen, or their roles in advanced ranks of the police, among others. It also reflects the great efforts our founding fathers put towards equality and empowering women in all aspects of life.

Four unique collections

The exhibition is divided into four unique sections displaying a women-centered collections of photographs.

Al Saas (or in English: the foundation) is where it all began, the origin of our momentum and the start of our path towards glory. The Al Saas collection charts the educational journey of Emirati women through their faces, shedding light on the ambition and confidence of each individual.

The collection spans different eras as women made strides towards a prosperous future, crossing through the promises of the past to reach the new horizons of the present, and into a future ripe with prosperity.


Al Sanad (or in English: support) is a collection that displays the mother as the spirit of her household, a source of strength, resilience, and unwavering love. This is what makes her a true supporter, or ‘sanad’, to her husband, gone for months on diving trips. She’s the backbone of the house, who plants, mills, bakes, provides, and protects.

The photographs in the Hasheem collection highlight the sense of authentic modesty that prevailed over every Emirati woman’s life. The collection shows how Emirati women and girls used to dress for happy occasions, including the traditionally embroidered dresses and henna designs, while always showcasing the true meaning of modesty in every detail.

The Ummayah (or in English: Mother) is a collection of photographs that explores a wide range of emotions and highlights the meaning of love, kindness, ambition, hope, patience and pride that every mother embodies.

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