We will be celebrating Emirati Women’s Day next Saturday, on August 28. And although every anniversary is important, this one holds a special place in my heart.
In addition to celebrating our women, this day falls in the same year we are celebrating our nation’s 50th birthday in December and Expo 2020 Dubai in October.
We have a saying in Arabic that loosely translates to: “In tough times, you see what people are really made of.” If there was a stressful time to put people to the test, it has been over the past 18 months.
Growing up, I never doubted our women were resilient, perseverant and resourceful. Living in a desert climate meant our ancestors had to continuously be in survival mode.
In addition to caring for their family and tribe members, our women took care of business when men were away and learnt to be resourceful in an environment that was scarce. So, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, it was natural to see our women on the front line, along with our fellow men, to help maintain everyone’s safety. After all, it is coded in their DNA.
As the world sailed through unchartered waters during the Covid-19 pandemic, Emirati women gave us hope.
It’s women such as Dr Farida Al Hosani, the official spokesperson for the health sector in the UAE, who kept us updated on pandemic developments and safety measures, and helped to maintain a sense of calm in a chaotic world.
It’s women such as Reem Al Hashimi, Minister of State for International Co-operation and Director General of Expo 2020, who is leading the efforts to celebrate the world's fair in a safe environment, teaching us a lesson in perseverance and not giving in to challenges.
It’s women such as Nora Al Matrooshi, the Arab world’s first female astronaut, who prove no star is too far and push us to stretch our aspirations further.
As I reflect on my business journey over the past decade, I owe it to my fellow Emirati sisters for inspiring me with their hard work and determination – and for not including the word impossible in their vocabulary.
Just like our nation and leaders, our fellow women don’t rest on their laurels but continue to defy challenges, break records and, most importantly, dream bigger than anyone.
While we are surrounded by pioneering Emirati females, and as long as the fierce spirit of our nation runs through our women’s veins, we will continue to make strides, break records and inspire not just fellow Emiratis, but people around the world.
As we celebrate our women this week and our nation’s golden jubilee in a few months, I have high hopes for our future female entrepreneurs.
I hope they continue to persevere and work hard, even if it seems the impossible has been achieved and we have reached the end of the universe. It is the determination of our leaders and people that have made the UAE what it is today.
I hope they continue to learn, explore and engage in dialogue with people from different fields.
Dedicating time for reading, engaging in activities I didn’t normally opt for and meeting new people have made me appreciate diversity, broadened my perspective and taught me that no matter how difficult a business challenge may seem, there’s always a solution – and you can achieve what you put your mind to.
When it comes to challenges, I hope our future female entrepreneurs are never intimidated by them, no matter how daunting they may seem. Always remember that you are the daughters of ancestors who survived harsh living conditions and went on to build a leading nation in less than 50 years.
The hopes and aspirations I have in my heart for our future Emirati women in all sectors inspire me because, even if I can’t see it yet, I know it is an epic story I look forward to continuing.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi.