Awards honour 'inspiring women'

Winners celebrate achievements at annual ceremony.

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ABU DHABI // More than 450 guests attended an award ceremony yesterday that honoured Arab women for their professional achievements in a variety of industries.

The Arab Women of the Year award, hosted by L’Officiel Middle East, a popular magazine in the region, recognised women who worked in nine different categories, including fashion design, medicine and media.

The event was the third annual ceremony held in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Nominees had to be of Arab descent, work in Abu Dhabi, and have made remarkable achievements in their profession in the past year.

Sheikha Manar al Hinai, 24, a fashion designer from Oman, was among the winners. Ms al Hinai established her own fashion brand, “Lucky Nooni”, last year. Her line includes an exclusive set of T-shirts adorned with designs influenced by Gulf culture.

Ms al Hinai was inspired by what she believed was a major gap in the market.

“When I went shopping, I would see all kind of T-shirts, some inspired by the Arab culture, such as Palestinian or Lebanese designs, but nothing specifically reflecting the Khaleeji culture,” she said. “That really bothered me, so I decided this was something I had to do.”

Ms al Hinai has established an online name and sells her creations in various boutiques throughout the region.

Women of the arts were not the only recognised achievers in the ceremony. Dr Afaf al Ghanimi, from Libya, received an award in the medicine category.

With more than 10 years’ experience, Dr Afaf, an obstetrics and gynaecology consultant at the HealthPlus clinic, is committed to improving women’s lives.

“As a woman, I understand the stress that others go through,” she said. “These women need support throughout all stages of their lives and sometimes through very personal situations, such as pregnancy and hormonal treatments.

“Women, particularly in this part of the world, would rather speak to a woman about such matters. And I wanted to help.”

Dr al Ghanimi learnt she was a winner of the award while she was with a patient.

“My patient saw me on the phone and noticed my excitement,” she said. “She didn’t know what I was so happy about, but she gave me a big hug and shared the joy with me. I really feel so honoured.”

An important goal of this event was to bring out role models –  women others could look to for inspiration, said Nadine el Chaer, one of the judges and group editor of Ahlan, Arabia, L’Officiel Middle East and ITP.

“A winner of this award must also believe in herself and believe that she has an important role to play in the world,” she said.

"Winning the award isn't enough. The biggest challenge for these women is to maintain their success in the years to come."