How perseverance connects Emirati women across generations

Inspirational female leaders are pioneering change and play a major role in the UAE's progress

Emirati women have what it takes to not only participate in any project or work in any field, but also excel at it and become a beacon of hope for others. AFP
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As an entrepreneur, I have a number of role models I look up to — people who have shaped the way we live our lives today and conduct our business.

But nothing compares with how the UAE motivates me. So, when people ask me what inspires my entrepreneurship journey and what drives me, my answer remains constant: home.

Whenever I travel outside the UAE, I always come back to find new, positive changes in the country and hear of new success stories.

In short, the country never rests on its laurels. When people think that it’s crazy and can’t be done, the UAE proves otherwise — and often in record-breaking time frames.

Emirati women have played an active role in the country’s progress.

Women such as Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment and Minister of State for Food Security, are leading the country's food security projects.

Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation, led Expo 2020 Dubai, which safely brought together more than 20 million people in a world struck by Covid-19.

Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, president of the International Publishers’ Association, is travelling the world and relentlessly supporting publishers worldwide.

Najla Al Midfa, chief executive of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre, provides support to small and medium enterprises and personally checks on entrepreneurs to see if they need any further support.

Fifty years ago, the role of Emirati women may have been limited to certain sectors, but today they prove that they can excel in any field.

Powerful Emirati women – in pictures

No matter their background or where they are in their careers, common threads bind them — perseverance and the drive to excel, to support others and to lead change.

This doesn’t come as a surprise. Historically, our women have always been active in their communities.

When the men were away, women hunted with falcons to secure food for their families and those who depended on them. They took care of business and kept accounts in check. They owned farms and were in charge of crops.

Women taught their peers and young children to read and write, while some even helped in legal disputes.

A conversation with an elderly woman from Abu Dhabi taught me that the old and new generations are not so different; what connects us all across time is our perseverance.

She told me how she had to take care of her husband’s business affairs after he passed away.

“I was in my early 20s. But I needed to do it for my children and for everyone who depended on my husband for their livelihood,” she said.

Emirati women prepare traditional food to showcase UAE's heritage

Emirati women prepare traditional food to showcase UAE's heritage

Not only was she able to manage her husband’s business, she also helped expand it. Today, her husband’s once-small company has clients from all across the Arab world.

If there is one thing I learnt in more than a decade of managing businesses and working with people from across the world, it is that our women have what it takes to not only participate in any project or work in any field, but also excel at it and become a beacon of hope to others.

Our women’s perseverance is ingrained in their genetic make-up. Historically, they survived harsh circumstances and today they have become inspirational stories and examples for other women to follow.

As we celebrate Emirati Women’s Day on August 28, there’s nothing more I look forward to than the new frontiers I am confident they will conquer.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi

Updated: August 22, 2022, 3:30 AM