By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Editor Kevin Lee
“Women in the United Arab Emirates have distinguished themselves as leaders in the diplomatic field, contributing to the development of an expansive network of international relations and enhancing the UAE’s regional and international partnerships.”
This statement was made by Madam Aysha Aldhaheri, spouse of the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, H.E. Abdulla Saif Alnuaimi, in an exclusive interview with The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985.
Then she said, “Having assumed senior positions in the diplomatic field, Emirati women have pioneered multilateral efforts to strengthen international cooperation, responded to international developments and crises, and advanced the UAE’s interests in international economic, political, and cultural fora.”
Madam Aldhaheri stated on a wide range of topics on women in the UAE and various other aspects interesting to the ladies in Korea and around the world and also to other segements of Korean society and the world.
Excerpts from the interview follow:
Q: Please introduce the society activities of Madam, including the Korean ladies who are most friendly with Madam and your country—in the government, business and other areas?
A: I have participated in many cultural and artistic events to learn more about Korean culture and discover opportunities to enhance cultural exchange between our two countries.
As the spouse of the UAE Ambassador, I’m a member by default of the Ambassadors Spouses’ Association Seoul. ASAS is a voluntary, non-profit, non-political and independent organization. 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 the Korean Red Cross to exchange knowledge on many topics. 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 the Korean Red Cross to support its humanitarian services.
I also participated in several ASAS Programs held at the Korea Down Syndrome Society.
Q: 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.
A: 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 paid special attention to women’s issues due to Her Highness’ belief that women’s empowerment and advancement contribute to the development of society.
As such, Her Highness is keen to advance women’s affairs on the local and international levels. The efforts of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima 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 various organizations, including the Arab Women’s Organization 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: Who are the most prominent ladies in the UAE other than the First Lady, such as the women leaders in the political world, business circles,
social and other areas? Please introduce them in detail.
A: Emirati women have excelled in all fields, in particular playing a major role in the advanced sciences, space, energy and health sectors. These contributions were evident in the Hope Probe project, as Emirati women made up 34% of the team that brought the UAE to Mars’ orbit.
Women also constituted 80% of the Hope Probe’s scientific team in a project that aimed to provide the global scientific community with the first comprehensive study of the climate of the Red Planet and its various atmospheric layers using advanced scientific equipment designed specifically for this mission.
Emirati women have also made significant strides in the political field. There are nine female members of the UAE Cabinet you should know: Her Excellency Reem Bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation; Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth; Her Excellency Jameela Bint Salem Mesbeh Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education; Her Excellency Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister for Community Development; Her Excellency Mariam Bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment; Her Excellency Dr. Maitha Bint Salem Al Shamsi, Minister of State; Her Excellency Ohood Bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Development and the Future; Her Excellency Shamma Bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth; and Her Excellency Sarah Bint Yousif Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology.
In the diplomatic field, Emirati women account for 42.5% of the UAE’s diplomatic and consular corps. This includes nine female ambassadors and two consuls general, representing the UAE abroad.
They are Her Excellency Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Political Affairs, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the United Nations; Her Excellency Hend Mana Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the French Republic; Her Excellency Hanan Khalfan Al Alili, UAE Ambassador to Latvia; Her Excellency Fatima Khamees Al Mazrouie, UAE Ambassador to Denmark; Her Excellency Hafsa Abdullah Al Olama, UAE Ambassador to Germany; Her Excellency Dr. Eman Al Salami, UAE Ambassador to Poland; Her Excellency Noura Mohammed Juma, UAE Ambassador to Finland; Her Excellency Nabila Abdulaziz Al Shamsi, UAE Ambassador to Montenegro; and Her Excellency Dr. Nariman Mohammed Al Mulla, Consul General of the UAE in Melbourne.
Q: We hear that the UAE has an anniversary called UAE Women's Day. Please introduce the Day to our readers.
A: Emirati Women's Day was announced for the first time on 15th August 2015 by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood. The date marks the anniversary of the creation of the UAE’s General Women’s Union in 1975.
Emirati Women's Day also commemorates the role played by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who laid the foundation for women’s outstanding journey in the UAE.
The day is also an opportunity to celebrate the UAE’s top ranking in global indices in the field of women’s empowerment, as the UAE ranked first in the Middle East and North Africa in the “Women, Business and Law 2021” report issued by the World Bank.
The UAE also ranked 18th globally and first among Arab countries in the Gender Equality Index issued by the United Nations Development Program in 2020.
Q: Korean people, especially the up-and-coming Korean businessmen need rest and recuperation. What are your tourist attractions?
A: There are diverse tourist destinations in the UAE open year-round, making the country a favorable destination for tourists and businessmen from around the globe.
These sites include beaches famous for their golden sands and clean water, huge malls for tourists coming for shopping, high-quality recreational facilities, several golf resorts, an indoor ski resort that provides ski lovers with the opportunity to enjoy it year-round (Ski Dubai), distinguished sports such as falconry and horse and camel rides and racing, sand skiing made available by desert tourism operators, diving, natural reservoirs such as in Yas Island, and Yas Marina Circuit, among others.
Louvre Abu Dhabi is also a famous destination in the UAE, as it includes thousands of artistic pieces from around the world. There are many theme parks in the UAE, such as the Warner Bros. Park, zoos, and many other entertainment facilities.
These tourism offerings are made possible by the UAE Government’s policies, the country’s security and stability, safety, openness to other nations and cultures, religious tolerance, distinguished location, airports equipped with modern facilities, and flights that connect major UAE cities with most parts of the world.
Q: What are the most important festive days in your country? Please elaborate.
A: The UAE celebrates Eid al-Fitr, which falls on 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. In addition, we celebrate our National Day, which falls on the 2nd of December every year.
National Day commemorates the establishment of the union of the UAE. The UAE marks its Commemoration Day (Martyr's Day) on November 30. It involves both official and public commemorations of the sacrifices of the country's martyrs.
Q: Please state whatever areas might have been left out from the questionnaire.
A: I would like to emphasize the UAE's efforts to empower women and their role in the country’s development. The UAE Constitution (adopted in 1971) established the right of women to take part in the development of all areas.
The Constitution states that social justice should apply to all, and women are equal to men. Under the Constitution, women enjoy the same legal status, claim to titles and access to education, and women have the right to practice the profession of their choice.
The UAE Federal National Council was led by a woman (H.E. Amal Al Qubaisi) from 2015 to 2019. Women represent 30% of the UAE Cabinet and 50% of the Federal National Council. Women also serve in the UAE Armed Forces and work as policewomen, performing jobs ranging from criminal investigation to customs control.
The UAE believes that women and girls are powerful agents of change with the ability to transform their households, communities, and economies. The UAE views women’s empowerment as the best way to eradicate poverty and build a more peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous world.
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.