Meet the Emiratis building an even brighter future for the UAE

The sky is the limit for five change-makers from the National Experts Programme

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - January 07, 2019: HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (R), greets a participant during the launch of the National Experts Program, at The Founders Memorial.

( Hamed Al Mansoori / Ministry of Presidential Affairs )?
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They are the Emiratis driving their country forward to an even brighter tomorrow.

Graduates of the UAE's National Experts Programme, they represent a new generation of decision-makers, working across government, business and civil society.

President Sheikh Mohamed established the programme in 2019, with 2021 seeing the first batch of 25 graduates. Now another group has progressed.

Five from each group are further selected as fellows to continue their journey in the programme. The first five fellows were featured in The National last year and now, we take a closer look at the next five change-makers building a bright future for their country.

The climate change champion with a global vision

Omar Al Braiki is on a mission to build a greener future for the UAE. As head of negotiations at the Office of the UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, he will play a key role in the hosting of Cop28 next November.

The crucial climate summit is being held at Expo City Dubai and Mr Al Braiki will shape the negotiations strategy.

“Hosting Cop28 is of critical importance to the UAE," said Mr Al Braiki. "It’s the first time we host a conference of this nature in the country; it is a pivotal time for climate action; and we want to have a positive and transformative impact."

Mr Al Braiki will take up a fellowship at Yale's Jackson School of Global Affairs to allow him to assess strategies and how they can benefit the UAE.

Sustainable economic development and climate action, he believes, go hand in hand.

Aspiring to elevate the UAE’s research capabilities

Nouf Al Hamly wants to take the UAE's research capabilities to even greater heights.

As associate director of research, public outreach and the Kawader programme at New York University Abu Dhabi, Ms Al Hamly wants to demonstrate the importance of research across science, technology, engineering and maths as well as its value in the continuing advancement of the country.

"Research must inform policy-making and I want to develop a model where government, private sector and academia can collaborate for more effective and informed decision-making," said Ms Al Hamly. "This would be a complex process but would further advance our country and our economy.”

Growing the UAE's spirit of entrepreneurship

Sultan Al Junaibi believes that entrepreneurship is the way to transform the economy.

As senior associate in private equity at Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), he is passionate about entrepreneurship.

Mr Al Junaibi has launched several start-ups in the UAE and supports fellow entrepreneurs in their ventures.

He believes there there is scope to make the UAE even more business friendly and empower entrepreneurs to build the firms they want.

“The global economies are ever-changing and further fuels my aspiration to enable entrepreneurs to thrive and create greater access to market opportunities," said Mr Al Junaibi.

"This lowers our dependence on employment and enhances our ability as a nation to stand strong in times of recession."

Inspiring women in the nuclear sector

Meera Al Mheiri is the first Emirati woman to serve as a nuclear safety inspector at the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation.

Ms Al Mheiri was also chosen as one of the youngest board members in the UAE government, serving at the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood. Ms Al Mheiri also obtained specialised certificates on concepts of non-proliferation, disarmament and counter-terrorism, and participated in Cambridge University's Youth Peacemakers Forum to promote interfaith dialogue.

Although a nuclear engineer, Ms Al Mheiri’s goal is to streamline the policy-making process so that it is more effective and informed by research. With this at heart, she successfully created a framework for how policies will be developed in the UAE for the next 60 years, which is currently being implemented.

“Designing regulatory frameworks and connecting strategies to reach a political end bring so much joy to me," said Ms Al Mheiri.

Energising the UAE economy

Ali Al Shimmari can see a future where the energy sector can be more sustainable, affordable and inclusive.

As International Assets Manager for the GCC at Taqa, he sees a world of opportunity in the energy sector where some see only disruption.

During his participation in the programme, he developed a critical integrated hydrogen strategy under the mentorship of Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology.

His ultimate goal is to be part of the team driving the transformation of the UAE’s energy sector.

“The most important thing to me is giving back to my country and society,” said Mr Al Shimmari. “My experience with the National Experts Programme was transformational, making me a better version of myself."

Updated: December 20, 2022, 3:00 AM