Commentary attributed to Etihad Rail Chief Executive Officer, Eng. Faris Saif Al Mazrouei
Abu Dhabi, UAE, 27 August 2016: The UAE is a beacon of economic development in the Middle East, driving the wheels of a progressive shift towards a knowledge-based economy by the year 2030. In recent years, UAE Government has intensified its efforts in positioning the UAE as a global hub for industry, commerce, innovation and investment. As progress towards a post-oil economy continues, Emirati women are taking an active role in fostering business development across sectors.
As August 28 marks Emirati Women’s Day, we are reminded of the inspired efforts pioneered by Her Highness, Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union (GDW), Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, in shaping the UAE’s narrative on women’s empowerment and gender equality.
Under her patronage of the “Mother of the Nation” Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak has been advancing women’s empowerment and visibility in the policy and decision making arena for more than three decades. Thanks to these efforts, the UAE boasts countless examples of success stories illustrating the nation’s commitment to bridging the global equality divide.
According to a 2015 book entitled “Emirati Women, Past and Present” issued by the Statistic Center – Abu Dhabi (SCAD), women’s participation in the UAE labour force has risen significantly between 1975 and 2014 from 2.1% to 30.9%. It was also recorded that the proportion of employed females as a percentage of total employed citizens during this time, grew from 2.2% to 27.6%. These figures alone serve as proof of the progress made in creating opportunities for sustainable growth and positions of authority within nation’s political and commercial environment.
UAE ranks highly in the region for fostering the growth of women into significant leadership roles, recognising a number of women who have been appointed into key positions for the first time in recent years. Many have either become excellence award recipients, or placed on global lists spotlighting the achievements of women.
For example, H.E Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi became the first Emirati woman to hold a ministerial position in the UAE, and to receive the Clinton Global Citizen Award for her outstanding contributions to the UAE’s international relations and diplomacy platform. H.E Reem Al Hashimi is the Minister of State for International Cooperation and sits on the board for Dubai Expo 2020 Higher Committee. H.E. Amal Al Qubaisi is the first woman in the Arab world, elected as speaker and President of the Federal National Council while H.E Shamma Al Mazrouie is the 22-year old Minister of State for Youth Affairs who recently received acclaim as the UAE’s youngest minister. Fatima Al Jaber was the first female elect onto the Board of Directors for Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce while Salma Hareb became the first woman in MENA region to head a free zone as the Chief Executive Officer for Jebel Ali Free Zone.
At Etihad Rail, our story continues to evolve as we forge ahead with the construction of the nation’s railway network. As part of our promise to contribute to the UAE’s sustainable development agenda, we recognise the importance of women in realising Etihad Rail’s, and our nation’s pursuits.
Today, women make up an impressive 30% of the total headcount at Etihad Rail. Our recruitment policy not only supports the core tenets of Emiratisation, but is focussed on enhancing the skills and leadership attributes of women working in the railway sector.
Female staff members at Etihad Rail participate in our “Women Leadership Program”, a collaborative exchange program between Sweden and the UAE. We also enrol our female employees in professional skills and leadership training workshops, designed to equip staff members with the necessary tools for capacity building.
A staunch advocate of encouraging women to break down stereotypes while pushing boundaries for inclusion, the “Mother of the Nation” Sheikha Fatima has dedicated her life to pioneering and monitoring the advancement of women across a diversity of industries. As we mark Emirati Women’s Day, we at Etihad Rail are joining this celebration and encourage organisations across the nation to actively lead the charge in promoting the advancement of the talented and committed women in our society.