Watch: This young Emirati woman operates a crane, works 12-hour night shifts

Lubna Malik Mohammad Malik Qassem is the first female graduate trainee in operation potline at Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA)


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Mon 28 Aug 2023, 12:25 PM

Last updated: Mon 28 Aug 2023, 10:15 PM

Gone were the days when Emirati women were limited to a few jobs. Now, they play crucial roles in diverse sectors, even taking on the roles that were male-dominated to contribute towards the economic growth of the country as well as the well-being of their families.

Lubna Malik Mohammad Malik Qassem, a bachelor's degree holder in mechanical engineering, is the first female graduate trainee in operation potline at Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), one of the largest aluminium producers in the world.

An operational engineer, she is primarily responsible for monitoring and supervising the ongoing operations of systems, processes or facilities. This includes maximising effectiveness, making sure everything runs smooth, resolving problems, organising teams, upholding safety rules and putting changes into place for efficient operation.

Lubna is determined to combine theoretical knowledge with practical experience to shape a meaningful career path. She successfully applied her theoretical knowledge in a demanding environment — including sometimes working 12-hour night shifts from 7pm to 7am.

Therefore, she is not reluctant to take on any challenge in practical life. She also operates a crane as part of her job, which is usually a male domain, reflecting dedication of the Emirati women.

“Well, since it was my first time operating a crane, it was difficult at first. After a while, I found it wasn't as difficult as I had thought. Furthermore, practice makes us perfect and we always follow the safety rules and never take shortcuts. To ensure safety and effective transportation of huge loads, operating a crane demands a lot of ability, accuracy, and attention to detail,” says Lubna.

She highlighted that there are many potential hazards when operating a crane, so it is important for crane operators to follow safety rules to protect themselves and others.

“It’s challenging for sure because we control the crane from high above the ground, but we are trained thoroughly and eventually everything becomes second nature. When it's hot outside, operating a crane is even more challenging. The crane driver has to stay hydrated and cool to prevent accidents. Heat also affects the crane and breakdowns are more common. One of the challenges in summer is foggy conditions because fog limits visibility,” explains the young Emirati, who graduated from the University of Sharjah.

How do others react?

Stepping into a profession that is male-dominated and physically demanding elicited a mixed reaction from friends and family members of Lubna.

“At first my family and friends were worried about me but they were fully supportive of what I was doing. This made me continue without any fear. Now, they believe that women are able to work in any field they want to, and as the industrial sector is one of the most important sectors, it awaits more creativity, innovation and active participation from Emirati women,” said the Lubna confidently.

Outside of working hours, Lubna likes to go to the gym, cook, play chess, and help her sisters with their math and physics homework.

“One of my sisters says to me ‘how do you know all these things?!’,” laughs Lubna, with a large smile. “Sometimes I even help her friends and send videos to them.”

Women want to prove themselves in male-dominated fields

The young Emirati stressed that other women should also join this profession as they are fully empowered members of society.

“I see that in the next few years, more women will join this industry and hold critical positions because I believe that, naturally, women want to prove themselves in a heavily male-dominated industry.”

Lubna aspires to be a role model for women in the UAE. “I hope more women will join this industry because we are capable of doing anything. Before, women of my age may not have known that they could work in industrial operations roles. But now, they can see me. And by seeing me, God Willing, I can inspire them.”


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