'Emirati Women Achievers' book celebrates 51 inspiring trailblazers

Maitha Al Shamsi, Minister of State, says women featured in the book are an inspiration for the generations to come

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The achievements of 51 female trailblazers have been honoured in a book published in celebration of Emirati Women’s Day.

The 184-page book called Emirati Women Achievers features inspiring women who have furthered innovation and entrepreneurship across various sectors.

The publication profiles their personal journeys and experiences in their fields.

On Tuesday, the women were honoured at a ceremony at New York University in Abu Dhabi, where the official unveiling of the book took place.

Under the patronage of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Mother of the Nation, the book was published by startAD and Tamkeen in collaboration with NYU Abu Dhabi and the US Mission to the UAE.

Emirati women across all sectors are helping to chart the UAE’s path of progress
Rima Al Mokarrab, Tamkeen

Maitha Al Shamsi, Minister of State, speaking on behalf of Sheikha Fatima at the launch, said empowering women has far-reaching social and economic benefits.

“From the start, Her Highness realised that caring for women and preparing them for life and future is necessary and important and that development will not be achieved without their participation,” Ms Al Shamsi said.

“It is by providing them with the knowledge that empowers them and enhances their capabilities to contribute constructively. This will inevitably benefit economic and social development and subsequently achieve sustainable development.”

Ms Al Shamsi said the women featured in the book are an inspiration for generations of Emiratis to come.

“The women in this book are considered an honourable example of Emirati women and their participation in the development process,” she said.

“Their achievements are also considered a prelude to the work of future generations of inspiring women to enable them to achieve impressive and impactful successes.

“There is no doubt that documenting women's achievements is a reference for future generations to inspire the values ​​that support women's success and advancement.”

Some examples of the women featured are Aishah Al Yammahi, who is academic board adviser at Alef Education and the first Emirati woman to receive a doctorate in artificial intelligence-powered digital learning.

The book also includes Sonia Al Marzooqi, the chief executive and owner of Sama Fast Food (Subway), which has developed a number of franchises that have supported the expansion of the fast food chain to 260 stores in the UAE.

There are also engineers, real estate investors and scientists, such as Fatma Al Mulla, a researcher at the Advanced Centre for Biochemical Engineering at University College London. Ms Al Mulla specialises in vaccines and plasmid DNA production.

Help grow their businesses

The Global Gender Gap Report 2022 found that it will take 132 years to close the gender gap worldwide if the current trajectory in the growth of female entrepreneurs continues.

The UAE ranked among the most improved countries for making progress on gender parity, the report found.

Start-ups founded by women in the Middle East and North Africa raised $34.6 million in 2021, only 1.2 per cent of the region’s total venture capital funding, data from Wamda showed.

Those founded by men, meanwhile, raised $2.6 billion across 526 deals, or 91.5 per cent of the total last year, the data showed.

With the support of the US embassy, startAD has launched the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs training programme in the UAE, which has supported 44 female entrepreneurs in growing their businesses since 2020.

Daleya Uddin, head of Public Affairs and Outreach at the US Consulate Dubai, said the programme gives female entrepreneurs the knowledge, networks and access they need to launch and grow their businesses.

Ramesh Jagannathan, managing director of startAD, said investing in female-founded businesses provided a better return on investment.

“There is an asymmetry in terms of investment. Investments in companies founded or cofounded by women averaged $935,000, which is less than half the average of $2.1m invested in companies founded by male entrepreneurs,” Mr Jagannathan said.

“This is not only very, very unfortunate but a bad business decision because start-ups founded and cofounded by women are significantly better financial investments.

“For every dollar of funding received, women-founded start-ups generated 78 cents, while male-founded start-ups generated less than half that — just 31 cents.

“It is fair to say that globally, people, organisations and governments are realising that there is this glaring and unacceptable gender gap in all aspects of life — workplace, pay inequalities, home, sports, politics.

“In Abu Dhabi, I am very pleased to recognise that this is a priority agenda item for the innovation foundation builders and is very evident in this room today.

“It has been a slow process globally because we are trying to remodel a world built by men, so to speak.”

The theme of this year's Emirati Women’s day — held on August 28 each year — is “Inspiring Reality, Sustainable Future”.

Rima Al Mokarrab, chairwoman of Tamkeen and trustee of NYU, said Emirati women represent the future generation of leaders.

“In tribute to our founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and with the leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Emirati women across all sectors are helping to chart the UAE’s path of progress,” said Ms Al Mokarrab.

“Today, they are teachers, diplomats, scientists, artists, entrepreneurs and astronauts.

“These remarkable Emiratis are an inspiration to us all. They represent the next generation of leaders and continue to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges.”

Updated: August 24, 2022, 3:34 PM