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Three Female Arab Pioneers Talk Passion and Empowerment in New Estée Lauder Campaign

Amna Al Qubaisi

In a new Ramadan campaign for Estée Lauder, three of the region’s groundbreakers share their career journey and ongoing dreams. Samira Al Khamis, one of Saudi Arabia’s first ballerinas, Nayla Al Khaja, the United Arab Emirate’s pioneering film producer, and the first Emirati female racecar driver, Amna Al Qubaisi, each appear in the beauty brand’s Reach for the Stars video with their own inspiring message.

Vogue Arabia spoke to each woman to discover what drives them, about their collab with Estée Lauder, and how they turned their own dreams into reality.

What does the Estee Lauder Reach for the Stars campaign mean to you?

Al Khamis: Reaching for the Stars gives me a sense of inspiration. To be able to say that your dreams are possible and will come true, once you can truly believe anything is possible, you can set your mind to it! Don’t be afraid to dream big.

Al Khaja: It means that no matter how hard the journey is, your dedication will always dictate your achievements. It means you never stop believing.

Al Qubaisi: To me, it means to appreciate those who took a big step in their lives or careers that’s been impressive and inspiring to every other person. Just like Mrs. Estée Lauder did 75 years ago when she created Estée Lauder Companies and inspired generations of women.

Samira Al Khamis

What has been your biggest hurdle to success?

Al Khamis: Balancing both my training and work – while I love to dance, it is difficult to keep up with that passion and continue to stay inspired when it’s my daily job. I consider dancing to be a form of stress relief – almost meditative. Sometimes it gets hard to utilize it in that way when it is so strongly associated with work. I try to set a strict schedule for my personal stress relief dance sessions and training to maintain my overall motivation.

Al Khaja: My biggest hurdle has been my determination to pursue the career that I want. I was determined to see it happen. The culture I grew up in, at first glance, had a preconception of women’s role in the society and the vocations I can delve in. However, a lot has changed since the 80s. But I grew up fighting many battles to make film a career and a lifelong passion. Every bump along the way came with a reward. It always took patience and perseverance and I’m only just beginning, giving up was never an option. I was disappointed that creative works such as films weren’t considered as careers, thankfully that has changed. In the current times, we can see more and more films and creative works coming out from around the world. 

Al Qubaisi: It would be to always find the right budget to get into the field, and to gain more track time and training. As while competing with my competitors, they’ve all had more time to be on track and gain experience. However for me, it’s the opposite. I do not let this stop me from continuing to achieve my goals. My family is my number one support, they’ve been with me every step of the way cheering me on.

What has been your biggest achievement?

Al Khamis: Opening my own dance studio, and giving the opportunity to other artists to share their passions. I enjoy celebrating every success with family and friends who helped make this a dream come true.

Al Khaja: I have been able to be of a positive influence on the current and the younger generations in pursuing the career they want. I am known for contributions that I have done for the industry and the region which I have been recognized for.

Al Qubaisi: My biggest success would be winning my first ever Single Seater race which was during the F1 Grand Prix in 2019. That is when I had the chance to step on the F1 Podium and it felt so surreal.

Nayla Al Khaja

 What does it mean to you to be a role model?

Al Khamis: When I first started building my career and opening Pulse Performing Arts, I didn’t expect to become a role model; it just happened unintentionally. Knowing that people are looking up to me as a role model is a responsibility. Watching those around me grow and follow their passion makes me want to give them my best to create a nurturing environment so that they continue to do so.

Al Khaja: Being a role model comes with responsibilities; one should honour them respectively. I hope that they will view my experiences, accomplishments, and story of how I got to where I am and will be inspired to pursue the career of their choice. Just be curious, learn every facet of the career that you want to be in, and never give up no matter what obstacles you may come across as failures build character and experience.

Al Qubaisi: To me, it means someone who would lead a path for others that they may think is impossible. To give everyone around you a sense of hope and motivation.

What is your advice for young women who are forging their own path?

Al Khamis: While it’s normal to have a fear of failure, remember the best way to learn and grow is through making mistakes and improving yourself. Following what your heart is calling you to do will give you a sense of fulfilment – this only means you’re heading in the right direction. 

Al Khaja: I hope that they will feel inspired by my experiences, accomplishments, and story of how I got to where I am, and pursue the career of their choice. I would advise them to be curious and face any challenges without fear; after all, failures build character and experience. Always look up to your role model whether it’s your hero or family member – take and learn everything from and about them.

Al Qubaisi: My advice would be to never lose hope, to keep persisting, and never take no for an answer. Always remember whatever you do in life, it should never be about proving to others, as you should do it for your own self.

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