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Emirati Women's Day: Breaking the glass ceiling

Farhana Chowdhury
Filed on August 28, 2020 | Last updated on August 31, 2020 at 03.41 pm
Sarah Al Amiri, Deputy Project Manager and Lead Science Investigator of the Emirates Mars Mission

Meet women who are making the nation proud with their ambitious and inspirational dreams

Space dreams - Sarah Al Amiri

Abu Dhabi-born Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri's earliest encounter with space was at a tender age of 12 when she saw an image of the Andromeda Galaxy. Since then, there was no turning back. She pursued a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Engineering from the American University of Sharjah.

Early journey
Sarah first started out as a computer engineer, but her fascination with the vast and unknown depths of outer space sparked a desire to change paths. She moved on to work at the Emirates Institute for Advanced Science and Technology as a program engineer, where she worked on the UAE's first satellites, Dubai Sat-1 and Dubai Sat-2.

.    Appointed Minister of State for Advanced Technology
.    Chairperson of the United Arab Emirates Council of Scientists
.    Deputy Project Manager and Lead Science Investigator of the Emirates Mars Mission, which launched the Hope Probe (Al Amal) on July 19 this year
.    First Emirati woman to take charge of the momentous mission to Mars



Emirati Women's Day: Breaking the glass ceiling (KT25673831.JPG)
Khawla Altaher

Stylish, daring, spontaneous

I'm a digital designer working at du. I graduated in multimedia design. I've always been interested in arts since I was young. However, my strongest passion is fashion.

Style journey
My passion for fashion was there in me long before I knew it. I used to draw sketches of models with outfits. Play any dress up games I can find. Take care of every little detail in my high school uniform, just to add my own little touch in it.
Now, I dedicated every Sunday to a new outfit, while every gathering, wedding and event I attend has its own outfit and a theme to match. I can't describe the level of enjoyment and satisfaction I get when I put together a new look, and it matters a lot to me when people appreciate it and share compliments.

Female inspiration
My inspiration is Judge Ruth Ginsberg. She is a woman who used all the resources she had and opportunities she got to fight against gender discrimination. She motivates me to learn more and use knowledge as a key to any argument against gender balance.

Thoughts on Emirati Women's Day
I can't describe how proud I am to have a day to celebrate our achievements. Women around the world rarely get credit on what they are achieving. That is why many women are hard on themselves, thinking they haven't achieved enough yet. I'm really lucky to have a leadership in my country that appreciate every step we make in the path of achieving our dreams.

Words of wisdom
'What would I do if I weren't afraid?'. This is a question I'd read in a book called Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg that challenges me to go after what I want without thinking or being held back by any restrictions that has put on us as women. It makes taking decisions in your life much simpler and clears your mind from any barriers you have put for yourself. I would like to encourage every woman who's afraid of making a choice for a better life to ask herself this question and to think of her happiness as a priority.

Shopping / Tasca in Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah / Dior / Jumeirah Al Naseem / Paris


Emirati Women's Day: Breaking the glass ceiling (KT25674831.JPG)

Amirah Raid Alzou Alnahdi

Driven, life enthusiast, artist

I'm a 23-year-old half Emirati, half Mexican-American hybrid born in the US and living in UAE. I will be an architecture graduate this year and plan to open my own firm and other businesses, combining my multiple passions of art, fashion and beauty.

Style journey
I started this on Instagram back in 2017 when it wasn't common within the Emirati women's society. My posts are a mix of my interests and passions in the style of a personal blog. I do sfx, artistic and normal makeup, as well as personal posts. I like to keep a feed of inspiration for people to look back to. I initially started with only eye make-up posts, then moved to full face makeup, and developed my love for sfx makeup. My love for social media lead to a personal style of posts.

Thoughts on Emirati Women's Day
Living in UAE is an honour and I couldn't be more grateful to be a part of this country's growth and beauty. Being an Emirati woman, there is something empowering about walking the streets of Dubai and I'm so proud to be part of this society that is so appreciated and looked upon. I'm also proud of all other Emirati women that have stepped up to society's norms and stereotypes, and faced it with a flaming torch of change and passion. These women and all women deserve a day of praise and appreciation, so I am proud of the UAE for having such an important day in its history.

Words of wisdom
Don't spend too much of your time stressing over what's to come or what you should do. In all situations, what's meant to happen for you, will happen. All you can do is give your all at everything you do no matter where it leads or ends up. No ending or destination is a failure or wrong, everything is either a blessing or a lesson, and everything happens for a reason. You may not know what it is at the moment or understand it but you will with time when something better comes along. Everything is at God's time and in his hands, keep your faith strong and your head high.
One thing I've always lived by since I first heard it when I was a little girl is: "Don't let the world change your smile, change the world with your smile."

Multiple hobbies, but all comes down to art in every shape and form - painting, drawing, makeup, photography, architecture, or fashion / Dining at Akiba Dori in Dubai Design District, and Buffalo Wild Wings


Emirati Women's Day: Breaking the glass ceiling (KT25677831.JPG)

Khulood Ahmed Yousef AlHossani

Go-getter, aspiring, enterprising

I am a Senior Financial Accountant in Finance section, Dubai Media Incorporation. I finished high school in the US and graduated in marketing and finance from the University of Sharjah. I started my career in the corporate world at Emirates NBD and stayed on for 12 years.

The journey
I'd quickly climbed up the professional ladder - from a credit analyst to relationship manager to relationship manager for high-net worth individuals. My next stop was the government sector that was seeing a complete overhaul in management and technology. I brought my skillset and expertise from the banking sector and applied them to the government job.

Thoughts on Emirati Women's Day
I love everything about the UAE. And this is not just because I am an Emirati. It's the leadership; it's the belief they have in every citizen of the country; it's the investment they have in the people. They open doors for everything - education and work. I feel blessed to be in such a place and to be from such a place.It's statement out of my heart that when I see how the UAE was years ago and having witnessed all this phenomenal transformation from a desert-like era to a cosmopolitan nation makes me not only proud but also respectful that we have great leaders and we're all on good hands.

Words of wisdom
I believe in challenges and love change. The world is going through a tough phase now but this is where the challenge lies to rise. I believe that everything will get back to normal and even better.

Loves: Reading, yoga, horse-riding and travelling
Dislikes: Not succeeding in my goals and the limitations, demotivation
Favourite Emirati dish: Majboos
Fact no one knows: I love navigating all types of history all over the world


Emirati Women's Day: Breaking the glass ceiling (KT25678831.JPG)

Marwa Alhattawi
Compassionate, inspiring, fun

I have recently completed my MBA from Cardiff University, UK. During quarantine, I've decided to use my time in researching about something I'm passionate about, and it's the beach life. I've recently become an entrepreneur with my own tanning oil business called Bare Sand, and am looking forward to expand and cover all beach essentials.  

Thoughts on Emirati Women's Day
The life of women in Dubai has significantly improved as women are more independent and career oriented. We celebrate Emirati Women's day to honour the women who support the nation with all their hard work and are role models for the younger generation to look up to. The day is also celebrated to promote gender equality and appreciate the role of women in various sectors.

Words of wisdom
The words of wisdom I'd like to share can be summarised in a quote by Martin Luther King Jr.: "You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."

Loves: Reading, travelling, photography / Zuma, La Petite Maison and Scalini / Cartier, Messika, Hermes and Chanel / Go-to venue: Nostalgia and Nusantara Coffee Roasters / Tropical islands like Mauritius, Maldives and Seychelles


Emirati Women's Day: Breaking the glass ceiling (KT25679831.JPG)

Amal Al-Agroobi
Creative, Ambitious, Worldly

I'm a filmmaker. I jumped into filmmaking in the year 2011 and made my first film in 2012 called "Half Emirati". I used to be a scientist and a lot of people ask me how I made the switch, but the truth is I've always been creative and passionate about the arts. I used to do theatre throughout school, then eventually ended up behind the camera. I worked a lot in documentary but I'm moving now towards fictional films so I spend a lot of my time writing.

Film journey
I've moved into genre cinema and am currently working on two horror films. The first is one about the lore of coffee cup reading in Arabia but based in the UK and that we should shoot sometime in the next month or so, and then I have a feature-length film which is also a horror film which we are currently trying to find the rest of the funding for. In the background, I'm working on a historical documentary about the UAE, but I feel like that is a long-winded process and the film won't be ready for some time due to budgeting constraints.

Thoughts on Emirati Women's Day
It's great to have a day where we celebrate women in the country and all their achievements for the country, but it has to be genuine. My advice to women is to keep going and keep fighting the good fight. There is hope that the value of the Emirati woman will be seen and we won't be celebrating on one day, but every day.

Words of wisdom
Don't allow anyone to shake the confidence you have in yourself. As women, we are constantly told that we are crazy, we are told that we are not as smart as we think; we're not as capable as we think and we are consistently put in an environment where we doubt ourselves. We suffer, we tolerate and we are willing to accept bad behaviour. I've made films when no one believed I could, followed the beat of my own drum when nobody supported me, chased my happiness in the face of danger and hardships, became successful in business... I'm a fighter, and I've learned to love myself because I'm a woman and because nobody else will.

Loves: Adventuring, Extreme Sports, Cooking, Fine Dining
Dining spot: Zuma, Toki and Shake Shack
Brands: Not much into brands and design wear; I'm a practical girl. I prefer H&M, or tailor-made abayas and jalabiyas, which I design myself
Go-to venue to unwind: Comptoir 102 - simple food, a fun and relaxing spot
Travel destination: Mama Africa. I went to Zanzibar and Tanzania and left my heart there. Can't wait to go back and explore more of this beautiful continent


Emirati Women's Day: Breaking the glass ceiling (KT25680831.JPG)

Amalie Beljafla
Creative, free-spirited, ambitious

I'm an artist, and founder and creative director of Troll Designs. My mom is from Norway. I studied at a prestigious art university called Central Saint Martins - University of the Arts London for six years where I did my bachelor in graphic design and illustration and furthered my degree with a master in communication and design.

Thoughts on Emirati Women's Day
Our leaders His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, as well Mother of our Nation, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, have always supported women, following in the footsteps of late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The UAE has created opportunities to give women positions that are usually dominated by men. I think the UAE continue to play a huge role in women empowerment, thanks to the founder of our nation, Sheikh Zayed who always put women in front. Personally, I think Emirati Women's Day is a beautiful occasion that celebrates women in different fields - from artists and doctors, to engineers to fighter pilots.

Words of wisdom
I think the best advice I've received is to truly do what you love. Do not think about success as you do it, and never give up. When you do what you love, success will naturally come along with it.
Loves: Horse-riding. It's my form of meditation and gives me freedom. I also enjoy dressage
Dining spot: Shanghai me, La Petite Maison and Avli by Tashas
Brands: Bottega Veneta for their leather goods; Dolce and Gabbana for their prints and ready-to-wear
Go to venue: Cassette at The Courtyard, or tea lounges in Four Seasons Hotel or Jumeirah Al Qasr
Travel destination: London. I have Kenya, Florence and Morocco on my bucketlist.

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