The UAE is ranked as the leading country in gender parity in the Arab world, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Gender Gap report. This achievement comes from the country’s fundamental belief that women and men are equal partners in society, which is reflected in a range of public and private initiatives, paving the way for women to excel across all industries, especially in business, government and STEM fields.
Gender equality is of paramount importance in the UAE, and the Constitution of the UAE guarantees equal rights for both men and women. As a leader of equality in economics, government, education and health, the UAE has been named one of the region’s pioneers.
Under the Constitution, women enjoy the same legal status, claim to titles, access to education, the right to practice professions, and the right to inherit property as men. Women are also guaranteed the same access to employment, health and family welfare facilities.
While the literacy rate of both women and men in the UAE is close to 95%, today, more women than men complete secondary education and enroll in university and post-graduate institutions. 77% of Emirati women enroll in higher education after secondary school and make up 70% of all university graduates in the UAE.
Women in the UAE participate actively in the private sector in various roles. They have equal rights to economic resources, including guaranteed equal pay. The UAE also had the highest number of women on Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Arab Businesswomen in 2020 with 23 Emirati women on the list. Women business owners account for 10% of the total private sector, and in 2021, the UAE Security and Commodities Authority issued a mandate that listed companies must have at least one woman on their board of directors.
Women make up 42.5% of the diplomatic corps, and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has appointed eleven Emirati women as ambassadors and consuls general to represent the country internationally.
Learn about five Emirati women who are creating significant impact across diverse sectors.
Fatima Al Jaber
Serving as COO of the Al Jaber Group and Chair of the Al Bashayer Investment Group, Fatima Al Jaber is no stranger to the business world. She has overseen the development of over 7,000 km of roads, and more than 7,000 villas and landmark commercial buildings. AJG also manages the UAE’s largest private sector workforce, making it one of the largest construction contractors in the region.
Al Jaber has experience working in the Abu Dhabi municipal government and was the first Emirati woman to be elected to the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce board of directors in 2009.
“I was working with the Abu Dhabi Business Women’s Council. We said, ‘Let’s try to help to empower women and to bring them up on the stage.’ Since the economy was doing well, we needed to bring more women into the business arena. So we started creating business women’s councils all over the Emirates.”
“Our younger sisters, younger daughters have the ability to be everywhere,” remarked Al Jaber.
HE Shamma Al Mazrui
HE Shamma Al Mazrui is a prominent figure in UAE politics and serves as the Minister of Community Involvement Affairs. In 2016, she made history by becoming the youngest government minister in the world at the age of 22, when she was appointed as Minister of State for Youth Affairs. As a member of the UAE Cabinet, Al Mazrui is one of nine women driving progress and innovation in the country. Her leadership and dedication to empowering youth have been instrumental in shaping the future of the UAE.
Previously, Al Mazrui worked as a public policy analyst at the UAE Mission to the United Nations. She was also the first Emirati Rhodes Scholar and studied economics at NYU Abu Dhabi.
“Leadership is not about the position or title; it is a choice and decision to genuinely serve the people. Anyone can be a leader in their schools, houses, communities or societies as long as they are driven by the pure intention to serve people,” remarked HE Al Mazrui when speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai.
Raja Al Gurg
Raja Al Gurg serves as the Managing Director of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group. She has been with ESAG for more than 30 years.
Al Gurg is the president of the Dubai Business Women’s Council as well as a board member of the Dubai Women’s Association and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She was also the first Emirati woman to be appointed to the board of HSBC Middle East. Al Gurg ranked #92 on Forbes’ list of The World’s Most Powerful Women in 2021.
"We have to believe in ourselves, we have to believe in our skills, and we need to nurture them. Every one of us has leadership skills inside us, but how [can you] bring it to surface? That’s your job,” noted Raja Al Gurg while speaking to women at a forum held by the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC).
Dyala Nusseibeh is the Director of Abu Dhabi Art. Her mission at the organization is to support the art and culture of the UAE and to demonstrate to the broader community the positive impact the arts can have on people’s lives. She also seeks to empower and enable younger artists who are just starting out in their careers by selling their works and promoting their shows.
“Since the first fair in 2007, Abu Dhabi Art has played an integral role in the art eco-system in Abu Dhabi and the wider Emirates, fueling the appetite for art in the region.”
“Over the years, we have not only succeeded in bolstering the growth of the country’s cultural and creative industries, but also in nurturing home-grown talent,” Nusseibeh said.
Before taking up the role of Director of Abu Dhabi Art, Nusseibeh also worked at Saatchi Gallery and later supported the founding of Art International, Istanbul.