Question: Please introduce the First Lady of your Country and the First Family fully for our readers as well as the Korean First Lady who would very much wish to learn more about your First Lady and the First Family.
Answer: Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Mother of the Nation, is the spouse of the founder of the United Arab Emirates, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, May Allah bestow mercy upon him! Her Highness is regarded as the pioneer of women’s work in the UAE and the supporter of women’s rights and advancement. Since the 1960s, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima has devoted special attention to women’s issues due to Her Highness’ belief that upon women’s empowerment and advancement rests the renaissance of the entire society. As such, Her Highness is keen on pursuing women’s affairs on the local and international levels.
Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak’s efforts to promote Emirati women’s status worldwide are best seen in the unprecedented achievements realized since the establishment of the UAE in 1971.
Her Highness has held many prestigious roles in a variety of committees and institutions concerned with women’s and children’s affairs. Her Highness is currently Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood. Regionally and internationally, she has chaired a number of organizations, such as the Arab Women’s Organisation and the Regional Coordination Committee for Women’s Work in the GCC. For her ongoing efforts, Sheikha Fatima has been the recipient of over 500 awards and honors, thirty of them bestowed by the UN.
Q: What is your role as the Spouse of the Ambassador of your country in Korea? The Korean people have a time-honored expression, Naejo, which literally means ‘domestic support or assistance.’ How do you help His Excellency to perform his work well?
A: Ever since the founding of the UAE, Emirati women have played a key role in driving the growth of the country and leading it into a new era of progress and development. Emirati women continue to make major contributions to society, proving themselves in various fields and delivering the country’s vision for the future. Emirati wives provide support to their husbands on the personal and professional levels. Personally, I offer support and encouragement to my husband to help him continue his work with great diligence. Moreover, I have participated in many cultural and artistic events to come to know more about the Korean culture and discover opportunities to enhance exchange between our two countries.
Q: Are you a member of the Ambassador Spouses Association Seoul? If yes, what is your role there? What are plans and schedules of your involvement in ASAS?
A: As a spouse of the Ambassador of the UAE, I’m a member by default of the Ambassadors Spouses’ Association Seoul. ASAS is a voluntary, non-profit, non-political and independent organization. It respects the diversity of creed, race, culture and traditions of its members. The mission of ASAS is to promote relationships and strengthen friendship, understanding, cooperation and philanthropy among its members and between them and the people of Korea.
Additionally, numerous spouses of ambassadors regularly hold a meeting in collaboration with Korean Red Cross to exchange knowledge on many topics.
Q: What, if any, are your experiences in the cultural, charity and other activities of ASAS and/or other such organizations in Korea. Please elaborate.
A: I have participated in volunteer, charitable and cultural programs such as the Korean Red Cross Wednesday Service Program, Red Cross Bazaar, and other related programs organized by Korean Red Cross, to support the humanitarian services offered by the Korean Red Cross. Also, I participated in several ASAS Programs held at KDS (Korea Down Syndrome Society).
Q: The Korea Post organizes tours for the Ambassadors and Spouses. However, sometimes the Ambassadors are busy with their work and are unable to attend them. Would you attend such schedules of The Korea Post media on behalf of His Excellency and contribute to the promotion of understanding, cooperation and friends between Korea and their countries, especially the events that are good more for the ladies and men?
A: My husband, His Excellency Ambassador Abdulla Saif Al Nuaimi, usually participates in programs and events offered. As for me, I participate in the programs first presented to the ambassadors' spouses. I agree on the importance of taking part in events that contribute to the promotion of cooperation and mutual understanding between the UAE and the Republic of Korea.
Q: As was briefly introduced afore, the Korean people have a time-honored expression, Naejo, which literally translates “Domestic Support” and which means “Support and assistance given by a wife to her husband.” How is this understood among non-Korean ladies?
A: Similar to what is meant by the word "Naejo" in Korean, foreign women generally place considerable importance on the concept of supporting their spouses, often through domestic means.
Q: Please introduce the traditional food and beverage of your country which may be different from those of Korea.
A: My husband always invites Koreans to a weekly feast for lunch or dinner, which helps them taste the traditional foods of the UAE. Emirati food is well received by our Korean guests. I choose the menu and make sure to serve diverse Emirati foods.
Q: What are the costumes of your country? Korea has Hanbok and we trust you also have one unique to your country. Please introduce them fully with pictures and/or illustrations if available.
A: Emirati Women are distinguished by wearing the “abaya” and “sheila” embroidered in various colours. I aim to preserve Emirati heritage and promote the Islamic identity, and therefore I adhere to the UAE dress on all occasions.
Q: What are the main festivals and folk rites in your country-like Korea’s Chuseok and Seollal? Please elaborate.
A: “Eid al-Fitr” is the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal. It marks the end of Ramadan, which is a month of fasting and prayer. Eid al-Fitr is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed. As an obligatory act of charity, money is given to the needy before performing the Eid prayer. We also celebrate “Eid al-Adha,” otherwise called the “Festival of the Sacrifice,” symbolising the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismael as an act of obedience to Allah. Muslims believe that Ibrahim was spared the heart-breaking task when Allah provided a lamb for sacrifice instead
Q: Please state whatever areas might have been left out from the questionnaire.
A: I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Korea Post Media for its interest in my country and the efforts it is exerting to introduce the UAE to Korean businesspeople and tourists.