UAE: Award-winning Emirati scientist looks to inspire generations, dreams of becoming minister

Dr Ameena Al-Sumaiti started her academic career in 2016 and is now an associate professor at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi

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Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Thu 13 Apr 2023, 1:09 PM

Last updated: Thu 13 Apr 2023, 2:36 PM

Dr Ameena Al-Sumaiti, an award-winning female Emirati scientist, hopes to inspire the younger generation to help solve future challenges through advanced sciences and aspires to become a UAE minister.

Dr Ameena is one of the 15 participants of the National Experts Programme (NEP), which has been developed under the direction of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The programme is a launch pad for UAE-based specialists to play a leading role in transforming future-growth sectors, which are aligned with the strategic vision of the UAE.

Dr Ameena represents the advanced sciences and research sector in the NEP 3.0 – the programme's third edition. She told Khaleej Times about her determination to “make a positive impact that will benefit the UAE and future generations” and her goal of becoming a minister.

Bagging laurels galore

Having started her academic career in 2016, Dr Ameena is now an associate professor at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, and an established expert in several fields, including project management, operations research, energy policy and economics, and energy and demand side management. Her wealth of experience and knowledge has seen her receive more than 34 awards and prestigious local and international fellowships.

Dr Ameena is excited as she talks about recently bagging the first prize for her energy innovation project at the inaugural Research and Innovation Awards organised by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure (MoEI).

She won in the field of ‘balanced national energy’ in the ‘individual researchers and experts’ category. Her project focused on providing a balanced source of efficient and reliable energy using the support of water through demand side management and mitigating uncertainty in renewable energy generation. It is a strategic approach that modifies the traditional concept of demand side management and aims to benefit the UAE’s long-term economic vision and contribute to achieving the nation’s objective of net zero emissions by 2050.

“I strongly believe my project will help contribute to the UAE’s Net Zero 2050 initiative, and is especially resonant at a time when climate change is at the top of the agenda for governments around the world,” Dr Ameena said.

The award also comes at a time when the UAE is strongly focused on sustainability programmes as the country prepares to host the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in November.

“It is an award that is very special to me and I am delighted that initiatives implemented by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure are empowering young leaders and encouraging them to strive for excellence. It is my ambition to make a positive impact that will benefit the country and future generations.”

UAE’s National Advanced Sciences Agenda 2031
UAE’s National Advanced Sciences Agenda 2031

Advanced sciences, research

As the UAE continues to transform into a knowledge-based economy, she believes there is no better time than now for the younger generation to take an interest in advanced sciences and research.

Dr Ameena underlined that the UAE’s National Advanced Sciences Agenda 2031, which aims to use advanced sciences to address future challenges, provides a valuable opportunity for young people to play their part in creating a more sustainable future.

The Agenda combines proactive thinking, future planning, and innovation of the best practices and solutions, and reflects the UAE Government’s approach to building a better future.

“The UAE Advanced Sciences Agenda 2031 will have a huge impact and is really important as the economy is going to be driven by advanced sciences and research going forward.”

She stressed on the importance of education in empowering the younger generation to play a key role in shaping the future.

“Through advanced sciences, they can learn about the opportunities it can create, understand what it entails and conduct research. All of this will have a positive impact on other fields such as technology, health and transport, which will really add value to the UAE over the long term.”

National Experts Programme 3.0
National Experts Programme 3.0

‘I want to be a minister’

Dr Ameena is currently undertaking NEP’s rigorous eight-month programme, which will conclude in June, and noted it has been a great learning experience so far.

“NEP is making a big difference to me. I feel I have enhanced my knowledge and communication skills and I believe I am more resilient. My mentor professor Eric Xing, president of Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence, is a great listener and gives valuable advice that will aid in my personal development. More importantly, it has allowed me to explore topics outside my boundaries and meet professionals in different fields, so I have been able to absorb a lot of new ideas and thinking.”

When she graduates from NEP, Dr Ameena said one of her future personal goals is to hold a ministerial position in the UAE.

“As a child, my dream was always to become a professor, which I am now. Now I dream of becoming a minister and I am determined to make a positive difference to the UAE and worldwide by sharing the expertise and knowledge that I have gained,” Dr Ameena added.

The NEP fosters the development of sector leaders who will help shape the country’s future. The programme cultivates a pool of UAE-based professionals recognised as outstanding performers in their field and equips them to have a transformative impact on key social and economic sectors.

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