Emirati Women Leading for Change
In the UAE, women are writing the next chapter of the country’s history. The UAE protects the rights of women in the workplace, encourages women’s higher education and guarantees women equal rights under the law. Women are playing increasingly large roles in all sectors across the UAE.
Women in Art
Women are the main drivers of the UAE’s local and vibrant art scene. Visionaries like Hoor Al Qasimi and Aljoud Lootah are solidifying the country’s role as a cultural hub. Al Qasimi established the Sharjah Art Foundation in 2009, which organizes the Sharjah Biennial, a major regional arts event. Lootah, meanwhile, is a multidisciplinary designer and founder of the Aljoud Lootah Design Studio. She had her work acquired by an international gallery. Female leadership in the arts was also evident when the UAE Embassy worked with Meridian International Center to organize a touring exhibit of Emirati art in the US. Emirati curator Noor Al Suwaidi curated the show, “Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates,” which traveled to several US cities from 2014-2016 and featured work by 25 female and male Emirati artists. In addition, women are expanding the UAE’s role in the international performing arts scene. Emiratis like ballerina Alia Al Neyadi are making their presence known on the global stage.
Women in Sports
Female athletes in the UAE continue to make strides in a wide range of sports. Weightlifter Ayesha Al-Balooshi and NYU Abu Dhabi student-athlete swimmer Nada Al-Bedwawi represented the UAE at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Like Al-Balooshi and Al-Bedwawi, Emirati women are advancing the dialogue around equal opportunity in sports. Maitha Al Suwaidi was the youngest member of the UAE national archery team and won three regional medals on behalf of the team. Yasmin Baker, an Emirati aerialist and fitness advocate, encourages others to strive for self-improvement through her sport.
Meanwhile, initiatives such as the Shaikha Hind Women’s Sports Tournament and the Women’s Sports Committee empower female employees to incorporate sports and exercise into their lives. UAE-US partnerships also promote equal opportunity in sports. Visits to the US by the UAE Women’s National Soccer Team (2011) and the UAE Women’s National Hockey Team (2018, 2019) provided development opportunities for the Emirati players and highlighted the growing role of women in UAE sports.
Women in Science
Women in the UAE are excelling in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Trailblazers such as Her Excellency Sara Al Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, and Alia Al Mansoori, winner of the 2017 Genes in Space Award, continue to pave the way for women in STEM at both the government and local levels. Many of these scientists and engineers are developing and showcasing their talents internationally. Nadya Ahmed, for instance, is researching new uses for artificial intelligence as she pursues her PhD at Rice University in Houston.
In fact, some of the highest female enrollment in STEM fields globally can be found in the UAE. According to Times Higher Education, 77 percent of UAE students taking computer science courses and 44.5 percent in engineering courses are women. “When we meet with international entities, that's when I'm often the only woman in the room,” says Al Amiri.