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10 Emirati women shaping the future of the UAE

In honour of Emirati Women’s Day, here is a hand-picked selection of those changing the game.

The UAE is proud to be bursting with women working tirelessly towards making the country great.

And, while we try to celebrate them every day here at, there’s one particular day officially dedicated to the ladies of this land.

Emirati Women’s Day – which is currently in its third year – falls on August 28, and aims to recognise the contribution of the nation’s women, and their role in the development and advancement of the UAE.

So, to honour the day, we’ve pulled together a list of such UAE women making leaps and bounds, particularly in the realms of government and business.

We could list far, far more, but here are 10 Emiratis who’ve particularly been making headlines in the last year.

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi

The UAE’s Minister for Tolerance is one of the UAE’s most prominent names – and with very good reason. Named Forbes’ most powerful woman in the Middle East in 2015, she hasn’t slowed up since then (she even won the title of the most powerful Arab woman in government again in 2017). The royal is a passionate advocate for women’s rights, saying this February that she was focused on putting the country at the forefront in this area.

“Providing equality in education opportunities is a key in achieving women’s economic empowerment,” she said according to  Gulf News. “Equality is an integral part of the national agenda.”

Sheikha Lubna was also the first woman to hold a ministerial post in the United Arab Emirates, and the first Emirati to receive the Clinton Global Citizen Award.

Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed Al Maktoum

This royal – daughter of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – is a mum-of-five as well as president of the UAE’s Gender Balance Council and the Dubai Women Establishment, so it’s safe to say she’s got a lot on.

“In today’s rapidly evolving world, roles, responsibilities and expectations are constantly changing, especially for women,” she said on founding the DWE in 2006.

“Acquiring leadership positions and playing an integral part in this process of evolution is no longer a matter of choice but a vital necessity. Every member of our society is required to contribute to making the world a better place.”

HE Ohood Al Roumi

While the title of Minister of Happiness might seem “fluffy” at first glance to those not in the know, Ohood Al Roumi will be quick to tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth. She takes a practical view of the subject, telling the Los Angeles Times of the brand-new role: “I assure you, it’s a science.”

“It touches on medicine, health, social sciences. We’re trying to bring it from a broad framework into a daily practice in our society [and] in our government.”

“What is the purpose of government if it does not work toward the happiness of the people?” she asked. And we couldn’t agree more.

Since taking up her role in 2016, Al Roumi has launched several initiatives around the country, including a 100-Day Happiness Plan, and a five-month positivity training programme for local CEOs.

HE Mona Al Marri

“The winds of change are blowing, and believe me you don’t want to be left behind,” said the Vice-President of the UAE Gender Balance Council in an interview with The National this May. Al Marri is a passionate advocate for women, which makes a lot of sense considering it’s her job.

“It’s time for the corporate world in our region to rewrite their gender playbooks so that they can tap fresh perspectives and ideas from women,” she added in the same interview. You won’t hear us arguing.

Together with Sheikha Manal, Al Marri has this year worked on updating the UAE’s maternity laws and implementing gender equality guidebooks, as well as representing the UAE at a UN panel in New York.

Mother of the Nation Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak

She has dedicated decades to providing a voice for the women in the region, and the Mother of the Nation is still tirelessly doing so.

In 1973, Sheikha Fatima established the Abu Dhabi Women Development Association as the first women’s society in the country, followed by the General Women’s Union in 1975, Family Development Foundation in 2006 and Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood in 2003. She also played a significant role in establishing the Arab Women Organisation, (Fund for Refugee Women) in collaboration with the UN High Commission for Refugees and a website to serve immigrant Arab women.

Overall her efforts have culminated in more than 500 awards, honouring her outstanding dedication, 30 of which were bestowed by the UN.

This year, the widow of HH Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan (who established Emirati Women’s Day in 2015) has created the Emirati Children’s Day, as well as launching the UAE’s National Strategy for Motherhood and Childhood 2017-2021.

HE Dr Raja Easa Al Gurg

Al Gurg is the managing director of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, a multidivisional conglomerate with interests in the fields of retail, building and construction.

A Dubai-based businesswoman, Al Gurg is one of the leading women when it comes to encouraging young, female Arab entrepreneurs to achieve their potential. As President of the Dubai Business Women’s Council and a Board Member of the Dubai Women Association (among many others), Al Gurg’s contribution to the improvement of women’s rights in the region is substantial.

Back in 2015, Forbes Middle East considered her to be the 2nd most powerful woman in the Middle East.

Amal Al Qubaisi

Dr Amal Al Qubaisi made history in 2015 by becoming the first woman in the Arab world to be elected as speaker of a national council.

Dr Qubaisi said of the milestone: “I am proud to take this seat for the first time as a woman in the Arab world. I dedicate this achievement to the great women of the UAE, and to the Mother of the Nation, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak.”

In 2006 she became the first woman elected to the Federal National Council, and this year told the Global Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament that females were crucial in the quest for peace in the Middle East.

“When women in parliament are united, we can really move mountains, and you all know that,” she told the group.

“But when we are united as men and as women, we can really move the world, and this is what really makes a difference.

“We live in one of the most conflicted regions in the world. Hope is our secret. We should work together not alone, male and female, youth and all generations, and with all the different sectors, our scientists and thinkers.”

HE Noura Al Kaabi

The twofour54 chairwoman, who was also named Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs in 2016, has made huge leaps in growing the nation’s media industry.

Al Kaabi, who came in 15th place in Gulf Business’ 2017 list of 100 Most Powerful Arabs, is also a board member of the UAE’s National Media Council, Image Nation, and Abu Dhabi Sports Council.

In 2014, she was named as one of Forbes Middle East’s 30 Most Influential Women in Government, and we recommend following her on Twitter (she frequently shares super-insightful articles).

HE Reem Al Hashimi

Reem Al Hashimi – who holds a master’s degree from Harvard University – was hugely instrumental in Dubai’s winning bid to host Expo 2020 (so we’ll be hearing lots from her in the next three years).

As well as being Director General for the Expo, she is also the UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, and became a cabinet minister in 2008. She is also is chair of Dubai Cares, a children’s education charity established by Sheikh Mohammed in 2007.

“Ultimately, we must offer a source of hope for displaced persons that allows them to maintain dignity, return home, reintegrate themselves into their societies, and rebuild their countries and their lives,” she told a UN summit .

Lana Zaki Nusseibeh

In 2013, ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh was the first woman to be appointed Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations.

In her acceptance speech, Nusseibeh said gender equality was of “paramount importance” to the UAE.

“The constitution of the UAE guarantees equal rights for both women and men, and underpins the fundamental belief that women and men are equal partners in society,” she said. We’re confident she’ll be a shining beacon for women’s empowerment over the coming months.

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