Emirati women urged to have limitless aspirations

Prominent Emirati women discuss tips to succeed and establish gender parity in UAE

Dubai: Emirati women must have limitless aspirations, build their personal brand and boldly get things done to succeed and achieve gender balance in the UAE.

This was the recommendation of a panel of prominent Emirati women during an event held to mark Emirati Women’s Day on Tuesday.

The event was organised by the British Business Group Dubai and Northern Emirates.

Considered thought leaders and trailblazers in their field, the panelists included Maria Al Qassim, public policy consultant and commentator; Shaikha Al Maskari, chief innovation officer at the UAE Space Agency; Amal Murad, the first female Emirati parkour instructor, and Ayesha Bin Kalban, assistant registrar at Dubai International Financial Centre Courts.

Lubna Qassim, lawyer and one of the top 50 influencers in the Arab world, moderated the talk.

While Emirati women have achieved so much in society, the panellists believe that more can be done. Breaking social barriers, even the ones we impose on ourselves, is one of them.

“We are the reason why we women have limits and it’s up to us to break those barriers. A lot of it does come from us and it’s time to stop blaming external factors or men. If we want to go out there, then go out. Do it! There’s nothing that can stop us now,” said Amal, drawing from experience.

Being a female instructor in a male-dominated field that involves a regimen requiring training in running, jumping from and climbing buildings, balancing, swinging, and using obstacle courses is not easy, Amal said. But the jump from working in the corporate world to working as a parkour instructor is much more challenging. When Amal made the move, she ended up defying her parents’ wishes and going against the norm. But she carved a niche for herself and succeeded.

There is still a need to level the playing field on a policy level, Maria said. But removing social biases that are deeply imbedded across cultures, especially pertaining to women, is also important.

It doesn’t help also that Emirati women are often typecast by some sectors of society. This, however, doesn’t have to be the case forever.

“Emirati women are very misconceived. A lot of people think we’re privileged, we’re entitled. I think we’ve kind of played into those misconceptions as well. We’ve kind of let people think of what they want to think of us and we just socialise in our own communities without reaching out. So I blame ourselves sometimes,” Ayesha said.

Ayesha agreed with the panelists that Emirati women need to get out of their shell and not to go by the dictates of society.

Aside from this, women must also “put themselves out there” and never hesitate in order to succeed, Shaikha said.

“I needed to build my personal brand [based on excellence]. I stood out every time. That helped me a lot and helped me advance in the organisation,” Shaikha, who helped establish the UAE Space Agency, said.

“I think women often restrain themselves. You want to get the job done? Stop complaining about it. Go fetch it. Go after your dreams. If you say ‘Oh it’s the world; they’re not treating us right.’ Yes that may be, but what are you doing about it? Stop slacking off and complaining about what the world is like through the eyes of people because we keep repeating these stories to each other. If you want something, just get it done.”


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