UAE: Meet the Emirati engineer making her mark in a male-dominated sector

In the largely male-dominated field of manufacturing, Abdulla heads her own operation team


Nasreen Abdulla

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Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Published: Mon 22 Aug 2022, 1:50 PM

Last updated: Tue 23 Aug 2022, 9:02 AM

Every Emirati Women’s Day is a reminder of how the UAE, a young country that is just 50 years old, has empowered its women to achieve the unthinkable. From business to sports, Emirati women have made their mark on every field you can imagine.

Wineyya Abdulla started in August 2008 as a manufacturing engineer in the Jebel Ali plant of Dubai Cable Company Pvt Ltd (Ducab). Since then, Abdulla has made massive strides in the primarily male-dominated field of manufacturing, becoming the plant superintendent at Ducab’s aluminium factory at Kizad, and assisting in the opening of the plant. She currently leads the operations team in achieve the company’s targets.

While studying chemical engineering at the American University of Sharjah, Abdulla was inspired by a professor to get a job at a manufacturing plant. So, when she got a chance to join Ducab in 2008 as a manufacturing engineer, she grabbed it. Since then, there has been no looking back for her.

“I’ve stayed in manufacturing because I like to be a part of the production process,” she said. “It is a great feeling when material components are being turned into a finished product that I can touch and see.”

Determined to further her career, Abdulla juggled her full-time job with her studies, completing her master’s degree in engineering system management in 2015. The following year, she became the plant superintendent for Ducab’s aluminium facility. Currently, she is responsible for the aluminium rod and overhead plants.

Her interest in engineering was sparked by the sheer thrill of seeing how principles are applied to design. “Engineering is great because it operates at two levels,” she said. “At the level of basic science, and at the level of practical application.

For example, I can search and learn about the problem related to cable design as a fundamental science, but at the same time it is very satisfying to work practically on developing cables that can have a relatively immediate impact on the society.”

Due to her commitment to her job, Abdulla’s career flourished at Ducab. After several years in manufacturing, she joined the team responsible for establishing Ducab’s aluminium facility at Kizad. During this project she was directly involved in the business meetings that were conducted with machine manufacturers in the US.

“The most important day for me was the opening ceremony when I took Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court, on a factory tour,” she said. “In the same year, Ducab promoted me to become the plant superintendent for the factory. This role gave me a broader perspective of all manufacturing processes and maintenance activities.”

According to Abdulla, the role helped her learn how to motivate people, facilitate teamwork across departments, understand people and their needs at all levels in the plant, and through this, how to support business objectives.

“During my career at Ducab, I also held a role in manufacturing which gave me a strong backing,” she said. “All my experiences have shaped me to become the leader I am today, and I keep learning and improving day by day.”

The biggest challenge Abdulla faced during her career was gaining the knowledge and expertise needed to continue in this field. She credits the diverse culture at Ducab for giving her the opportunity to collaborate with people, challenge them and promote innovative ideas that push organisations forward.

“Another challenge I have faced is I have to keep proving myself as a woman in this field,” she said. “Ducab gave me the opportunity to improve and utilize my soft skills as a woman, including emotional self-awareness, empathy, conflict management and teamwork. These really gave me the competitive advantage as a woman in business.”

Abdulla now dreams of taking on more challenges and becoming a known expert in the industry. “I am an Emirati woman in a leadership position,” she said. “It makes me feel empowered and more confident. The most rewarding moments for me have been those when I see people proud of their achievements and success.”

She calls on her fellow Emirati women to keep believing in themselves. “Keep learning, working hard and using every opportunity to develop themselves,” she said.


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