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Celebrating Emirati Women: Successes and Inspirations of Four Extraordinary Females

Inspiring Emirati women

From left to right: Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, Madiyah Al Sharqi, Sara Al Tamimi and Khadija Al Bastaki

National Day celebrates the founding of the United Arab Emirates since 1971. As one of the most diverse and welcoming countries in the world, the UAE holds a special place for women; valuing and respecting their strength. A cultural hub, the UAE is home to many accomplished women, from mothers to daughters, designers to artists, and business directors to entrepreneurs, there is an abundance of female power and talent present in the country.

As we celebrate the UAE’s 49th National Day, Vogue Arabia also honors its inspiring women. We spoke to four extraordinary Emirati women, Khadija Al Bastaki, Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, Sara Al Tamimi, and Madiyah Al Sharqi. Here they share their career successes, their hopes for the region, and their fellow female inspirations.

Khadija Al Bastaki, Executive Director, Dubai Design District (d3)

Khadija Al Bastaki, Executive Director, Dubai Design District (d3)

Khadija Al Bastaki, Executive Director, Dubai Design District

Which fellow Emirati women inspire you?

Over the years, I’ve met many extraordinary Emirati women who have inspired me, but if I have to choose one person it would be HH Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council and President of Dubai Women Establishment. She has played a tremendous role in empowering women by ensuring that they are well represented in all socio-economic spheres.

What do you love the most about the UAE?

The UAE is a global business and tourism destination. As a young nation, we have a lot to be proud of. The vision of our leaders has helped to transform Dubai into one of the world’s most liveable cities, set new benchmarks in ease of doing business, and create a hub for talent and investment. But what really strikes a chord with me is the fact that the UAE is everyone’s country. We’re home to more than 200 nationalities, the murmur of a hundred languages can be heard in souks, cafes, and co-working spaces nationwide.

What are you most proud of with regards to your heritage?

Philanthropy and human kindness are woven into the fabric of our DNA, and hospitality runs deep in Emirati culture. We are an extremely friendly and welcoming society. In line with our commitment to promote social value and extend support around the world, d3 recently offered co-working spaces to Lebanese startups, entrepreneurs, SMEs, and larger companies impacted by the explosion in the port of Beirut, which caused billions of dollars in damages. Held under our Design for Good initiative, the three-year program is structured to help companies re-establish their presence with an opportunity to network and collaborate with major international companies.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by anything that triggers passion and curiosity. It can be from the places I travel to, urban landmarks, historic buildings, or even a unique piece of furniture. The human relationship between the built and natural world is also intriguing as we strive to find synergy between the two.

What are your hopes for the region’s future?

My hope for the UAE is to be recognized as a leading country for creativity, innovation, and excellence. From the cities we build to the clothes we wear and the apps we use, design is more important than ever. Despite the global challenges we have all faced, the UAE remains an attractive destination with Dubai and Abu Dhabi among the world’s most liveable cities and there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future.

Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, Artist

Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, Artist

Portrait of Sumayyah Al Suwaidi. Photo: Courtesy of Sumayyah Al Suwaidi

Which fellow Emirati women inspire you?

The only Emirati woman who inspired me to become who I am today is my aunt Fatma Salem Al Suwaidi. She was the first Emirati female to work for an oil company (ADNOC) and she was also an artist and a fashion designer. I grew up watching her dress up for work, and whenever there was an occasion she would take me with her to buy fabrics and design my outfits – growing up in such an atmosphere made me the artist I am today. She was the first to support me when I decided to venture into the art world.

Sumayyah Al Suwaidi's aunt, Fatma Salem Al Suwaidi

Sumayyah Al Suwaidi’s aunt, Fatma Salem Al Suwaidi. Photo: Courtesy of Sumayyah Al Suwaidi

What do you love the most about the UAE?

I love how the UAE prioritizes women and how it respects them in every field. Women in the UAE have equal jobs to men and equal opportunities, also wherever a woman goes she is treated with the utmost respect. I don’t think there is any other country that treats women with as much care as the UAE does.

What are you most proud of with regards to your heritage?

I am proud of how we, as Emiratis, carry our heritage, culture, and traditions wherever we go and in whatever we decide to do. Generosity, humility, and modesty are just a few elements within my heritage that people from around the world praise, but if we are talking about something tangible then I am very proud of the abaya. I wear it as throughout the years it became a symbol and an icon of my nationality and I hope that never changes.

What inspires you?

My daily life inspires me, as I have so much going on during a single day that I return home trying to exhale all that I absorbed during the day on to my paintings; and that’s why I always say my paintings are like my daily diary where I write my ongoing story.

What are your hopes for the region’s future?

I hope for continuous development and success in everything we choose to do.

Sara Al Tamimi, Fashion Designer

Sara Al Tamimi

Portrait of Sara Al Tamimi. Photo: Courtesy of Sara Al Tamimi

Which fellow Emirati women inspire you?

My sister, Noor Al Tamimi, has and will always be my inspiration. She is someone I aspire to be like and look up to in every way possible. To me, she exemplifies what it means to be an Emirati woman with an active role in society; realizing her dreams and embracing every opportunity. She founded a successful business that spread across the UAE and expanded globally, and she did so as a hands-on mother, with humility, kindness, and patience; values that I hold dear to my heart.

noor al tamimi

Sara Al Tamimi’s sister Noor. Photo: Instagram/ @nooraltamimi

What do you love the most about the UAE?

I love that the UAE is the land of opportunities. If you have an idea, you can manifest it into reality. This, of course, is the outcome of our leadership’s vision, from the founding of our nation, until today – their belief that people are the most important pillar of society is what makes the UAE so special. When you have humanity at the center of everything, nothing is impossible.

What are you most proud of with regards to your heritage?

There are so many things that make me proud of my heritage. I don’t think you can really pick one thing, because it is so rich. What I can say about my heritage, that connects it to the reality of our present and future, is that we believe in overcoming any obstacle; we believe in finding new horizons to conquer. It’s a culture of hard work and sacrifice and I love that about my heritage.

What inspires you?

The idea of making a difference in the fashion industry inspires me. I want to be the Emirati fashion designer and thinker that shifts perceptions and builds a new fashion identity in the region, and the world. This is an outcome of seeing so many people do the same. Their inspiration was to make a difference with their passion.

What are your hopes for the region’s future?

My hope for the region is that it continues to build the growing platform of sustainable fashion, using the region’s natural resources and setting new standards in the industry, leading the way forward in the years to come.

Madiyah Al Sharqi, Fashion Designer

Madiyah Al Sharqi

Portrait of Madiyah Al Sharqi. Photo: Courtesy of Madiyah Al Sharqi.

Which fellow Emirati women inspire?

The women in my family, including my mother and sister, Sheikha Shamseh bint Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi who leads the Fujairah charity exhibition Zero Nine, are a constant inspiration, they’re very dedicated in their own fields and professions.

What do you love the most about the UAE?

What I admire and love about the UAE are the people who make up this country; where everyone’s diverse cultures, individuality, and talents are celebrated and come together to pursue success.

What are you most proud of with regards to your heritage?

The strong sense of innovation and resilience that’s allowed us to achieve so much as a young country and embracing the rest of the world in taking part to build the UAE.

What are your hopes for the region’s future?

My hope is we continue being united in the goal of building a progressive and prosperous future for our region.

Rea Next: The 8 Emirati Fashion And Jewelry Brands You Need To Buy Now

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