Abu Dhabi's female police officers receive honours

Four women are honoured by the Abu Dhabi Police on International Women's Day.

March 8, 2010 - Dubai, UAE -  Portrait of Salma al Kaabi before she and other police officers recieve awards at the Police General Headquarters, HR Depatment (Nicole Hill / The National)

ABU DHABI // When Warrant Officer Salma al Kaabi talks about Biddy and Dick, it almost sounds like she is talking about members of her family. Warrant Officer al Kaabi, who comes from a family of military and police officers, was among four women honoured yesterday by the Abu Dhabi Police on International Women's Day. She was the first woman on the Urban Search and Rescue Team, and both the first woman and first Emirati in the canine training department.

There, she works with Biddy and Dick, two German Shepherds. Biddy helps out with criminal investigations and Dick with search and rescue operations. "They are two souls and it is a rewarding feeling that I get to train them and improve the skill that God has bestowed on them," she said after a ceremony at the force's general headquarters. Emirati women are now found in several departments of the police force. Female officers are often called upon to handle situations that would be difficult for male officers, such as removing female beggars.

To encourage Emirati women to join their ranks, the department has implemented reforms, including reducing the training period for female cadets to four-and-a-half months from six months. Also honoured yesterday were: - First Lt Shamma al Muhairi, who was the first in her family to join the force, in 1990, and was among five police women chosen to compete for the UAE in shooting at the 1996 Summer Olympics. She said policewomen had come a long way, and "there has been a turning point since the mid-1990s, not only in quantity but also in quality".

- Capt Layla Gharib al Shamsi, the first Emirati woman to join the department, in 1987. She is the head of the women's police section in Al Ain and the force's highest-ranking woman. She said working with the police had allowed her to protect the "honour for all women". - Samira Fairuz al Dhaheri, an inspector at the vehicle licensing department. hhassan@thenational.ae