Zayed University and Vacheron Constantin launch mentorship programme for Emirati women

The initiative will pair six undergraduates with six established Emirati businesswomen for support

The six business leaders who will mentor students for the Vacheron Constantin and Zayed University scheme. Courtesy Vacheron Constantin
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The Swiss watch house Vacheron Constantin has announced a new mentorship programme aimed at supporting young Emirati women.

Created in conjunction with Zayed University and Hala Al Gergawi, the founder of local luxury consultancy Tea Before Noon, the initiative will choose six undergraduates to be supported, tutored and mentored by six established Emirati businesswomen.

It will begin with a three-week selection process in November during which six finalists will be picked, and a six-month training schedule will begin. The businesswomen offering mentorship are co-founder Al Gergawi, jewellery designer Noora Shawqi, designer Rafia Helal Bin Drai, designer Latifa Al Gurg, author and artist Alia Al Shamsi, and Salama Al Shamsi, founder of Salama’s restaurant.

A lucky student will receive insight into the art of dressmaking. Courtesy Vacheron Constantin

“We have always been surrounded by leading Arab women and now, we are honoured to be collaborating with them through the One of Not Many Mentorship Programme with the prestigious Zayed University," said Alexander Schmiedt, regional brand director at Vacheron Constantin. "Alia, Hala, Latifa, Noora, Rafia and Salama are such talented and inspiring women, each paving the way for the younger generations.

“We are very excited to witness them guide their selected students through the programme, encouraging them and making a difference to their promising professional journey."

The project is in line with the UAE’s vision to encourage and support female entrepreneurs.

“One of Not Many Mentorship Programme is an illustration of the dedication of Emirati women towards the development of their country. For a country to see substantial impact in any industry, the UAE has rooted itself in empowering its women through countless approaches – we are firm believers that women are a core pillar of our society," says Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth and president of Zayed University.

A behind-the-scenes glimpse at the work that goes into creating fashion pieces. Courtesy Vacheron Constantin

She adds: “The programme is a one-of-a-kind learning opportunity for our students to work closely with brilliant female leaders in the UAE. I’m certain that this experience will be an extraordinary one for them, as they will get to learn directly from the source and they will be able, at the end of the programme, to be more empowered to make decisions, identify goals and establish a sense of direction for their own careers and ambitions.”

Building on Vacheron Constantin's 265-year history of technical excellence and creative flair, the idea for the programme came from a recently launched high jewellery collection created especially for women.

Called Egerie, the timepieces fuse the worlds of haute couture (high dressmaking) and haute horology (high watchmaking), creating unique pieces that blend craftsmanship, passion and creativity. A desire to encourage levels of excellence across different creative disciplines led to the formation of the mentorship initiative.

In addition to taking one of the students under her wing, Helal Bin Drai, the designer behind the homegrown label Mauzan, will create seven one-off abayas that are inspired directly by the Egerie collection.