UAE's first female aviation engineer urges women to break the glass ceiling

No reason why they can't excel in male-dominated fields, says Dr Suad Al Shamsi ahead of International Women in Engineering Day


Mazhar Farooqui

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Published: Wed 22 Jun 2022, 2:05 PM

An Emirati woman, who broke the glass ceiling to become the UAE's first female aircraft engineer, said there is no reason why women can't excel in engineering and other male-dominated fields.

"There's nothing a woman can't do. It's sad that gender stereotypes are still prevalent in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, but these challenges shouldn't deter women from pursuing their dream careers," Dr Suaad Al Shamsi said ahead of the International Women in Engineering Day (INWED).

Held annually on June 23, INWED celebrates the work and achievements of female engineers around the world.

Dr Suaad Al Shamsi, who works as an aviation advisor at the upcoming Abu Dhabi International Airport, said she fell in love with aeroplanes before she could barely walk.

"We lived near the airport. As a child, I would stare transfixed at the skies for hours as the planes flew overhead," she recalled. "Before long, I got hooked to aviation movies like the Top Gun (1986)."

As her fascination turned into a passion, Shamsi began considering a career in aviation.

Shamsi said she is indebted to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, for giving wings to her dreams and enabling her to pursue an aeronautical course in the UK.

"Now it's my turn to make my home country proud," said Shamsi, who has risen through the ranks to become a significant name in the regional aviation industry.

She also sits on the judging panel of the James Dyson Award, which is returning to the UAE for its fifth edition.

Open to design or engineering students, the international award is run by the James Dyson Foundation, which aims to get young people excited about design engineering.

The deadline for entry to the award is July 6. National winners will be announced on September 7.


Other members on the judging panel include Dr Ali Hilal Alnaqbi, professor at Abu Dhabi Polytechnic and inventor of the bioartificial liver; Reem Al Marzouqi, Emirati engineer and the first citizen of the UAE to be granted a patent in the US for her car that can be driven without hands and Professor Tadhg S O'Donovan, Head of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Heriot-Watt University.

Shamsi said she's happy to encourage and mentor women seeking careers in STEM.

"Women can accomplish anything they set their mind to. Do you think running a house is easy? If they can run a house, then they can run a company," she said.

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