#IWD2019: Outstanding female entrepreneurs, leaders and sportswomen from the UAE

#IWD2019: Outstanding female entrepreneurs, leaders and sportswomen from the UAE

#IWD2019: Outstanding female entrepreneurs, leaders and sportswomen from the UAE
Disclaimer: From left: UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi; UAE's Olympic weightlifter Amna Al Haddad; UAE Minister of State for Happiness Her Excellency Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi; and UAE's first ice skater Zahra Lari.


International Women’s Day (IWD) is being celebrated this year with the theme #BalanceforBetter, emphasizing that, as official IWD website puts it, “Balance is not a women’s issue; it’s a business issue.”

The website also said, “The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender balance of employees, more gender balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage. Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.”

In the UAE, empowered Emirati women are continuously making their mark in business, leadership and in sports.

And this starts from the top: in this year’s elections, women will occupy 50 per cent of seats in the UAE’s Federal National Council. The President of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has directed authorities to double women’s representation in the Council from the current 22.5 per cent.

This is expected to bring the UAE to the fourth position globally in terms of balanced representation. Only two countries have 50 per cent or more women in parliament at present: Rwanda (61.3 per cent) and Bolivia (53.1 per cent).

UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs_Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui

Disclaimer: UAE’s Minister of State for Youth Affairs, Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, became the youngest government minister in the world in February 2016. Instagram/@shamma



At the age of 33, Sheikha Latifah Al Maktoum, the UAE’s leading horse rider, already has a number of achievements under her belt, including representing her country at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and at the World Equestrian Games in Lexington in 2010.

Sheikha Latifah told My Salaam, “Our family has always been with horses and around horses, so it was natural for me to ride. I loved show jumping because it is real teamwork between rider and horse, and there has to be chemistry. It has to be a real partnership where both rider and horse have to trust each other.”

Sheikha Latifah says that the UAE has been a huge promoter for women in both business and sports.

“In the UAE, we have the only show-jumping competition of its kind, which is the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy Show Jumping Competition, only for ladies. There is nothing like it in the world, and I am proud to say that we have something like this in the UAE.”

For Sheikha Latifah, IWD is about reminding women “how far we have come”. She continued: “There are no limits to how far we can go. I think women are extremely strong because they are patient and never give up. Strength doesn’t come from always winning; it comes from struggle and hard times. That’s why I think women are extremely strong.”

What is next for the show jumper?

“I would love to be able to compete and represent my country at the Olympics again. When I first competed in 2008, I was very young and very new to the sport. With a bit more experience now, I would like to have another shot and do better than I did last time.”


Sheikha Latifah’s teammate, Emirati ace show jumper Nadia Taryam, also spoke with to My Salaam on IWD. Asked to sum up the day in a word, she said, “achievement”.

“The opportunities for women in sports and business in the UAE are endless,” she said. “The drive to empower women has risen so much in the recent years, and I’m so proud to be a part of that. To me, International Women’s Day is about celebrating a woman’s ability to achieve any goal they put their mind to.”

Other awesome Emirati athletes who come to mind are Olympic weightlifter Amna Al Haddad, ice skater Zahra Lari (the country’s first!), and swimmer Nada Al-Bedwawi.



There are a host of female powerhouses succeeding across all business sectors in the Emirates too.

In leadership, look no further than the UAE’s Minister of State for Youth Affairs, Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, who in February 2016 became the youngest government minister in the world. Or Her Excellency Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, the UAE Minister of State for Happiness. Meanwhile, there’s also Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, who is a businesswoman as well as the presiding Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development.


In business, there are many companies with an Emirati woman high in their ranks, such as Reem Al Hashimi, Director General for the Dubai World Expo 2020, and Dr Raja Easa Al Gurg, President of the Dubai Business Women’s Council and a board member of the Dubai Women’s Association.

Another woman reaching for the sky in what was previously a male-dominated profession is the UAE’s first woman pilot of an A380, Aisha Al Mansouri. Her one-word summary of IWD?  “Togetherness.”

“I think IWD is the day women all over the world come together as one,” said the First Officer, who flies for Etihad. “I think it is very inspiring for the young generation; it is a reminder for them of how far we have come and an inspiration to know how [much] farther they can go. The opportunities are growing and growing, especially in the region.”

“The sky’s the limit, really.”


(Writing by Jennifer Bell; Editing by Seban Scaria

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