As we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021, takes a look back on just some of the exceptional women we have championed and will continue to champion.
Ghizlan Guenez is a determined entrepreneur with tenacity and grit. Last year, she made the difficult decision to let go of her start-up The Modist. However, she’s as still as determined as ever. She believes this is what embodies having self-love, making the correct choices, even if they might be difficult ones. “To me, loving myself takes different forms: the discipline to be healthy and workout, the ability to disengage with a toxic conversation or person, the strive to constantly grow and learn as a person,” she previously told EW. “Self-love is about making the right choices for you even when they’re not the easiest.”
Raha Moharrak became the first Saudi woman to scale Everest back in 2013. Throughout her career, this adventure-seeker has also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Vinson, Mount Elbrus, Aconcagua, Kala Pattar, Pico de Orizaba and Iztaccihuatl. “There’s nothing wrong with failing, the only shame is not trying something new,” says record-breaking climber Moharrak. As a pioneer for Arab women, Moharrak truly is paving the way for change for future generations in the region in whatever field it may be.
Her Highness Sheikha Sana Al Maktoum
In August 2020, Her Highness Sheikha Sana Al Maktoum launched her eponymous brand Sana Al Maktoum Fine Jewellery. However, her jewellery brand is so much more than just jewellery, Her Highness is encouraging women to find their inner strength through one treasured piece at a time. Her first collection for Sana Al Maktoum Fine Jewellery entitled ‘My Treasure’ is an ode to her late grandmother, using butterflies as the symbol.
“Butterflies are symbols of transformation and beauty and she grew up at a time when options were limited for women, but she didn’t let that stop her,” Sheikha Sana she told in our exclusive interview with her. “She found a way to shine and to help others shine which is why I consider her a treasure.” Sheikha Sana also explained that each piece is “designed to be worn alone or layered together, each creation honours the memory of a remarkable woman and encourages the wearer to embark on a journey to find her own inner treasure”.
Emirati aerialist and aerial Nike brand ambassador Yasmin Baker is all about breaking down stereotypes. “There are so many Emirati and Arab women who champion bravery and dispel stereotypes about capability and about the region in general,” she previously told EW. “It is so empowering for the current times and for this part of the world. Arab women have worked hard to break the ice in politics, academia, business, science, sports, arts and to normalize the idea men and women can achieve if we are resilient.”
Sayyida Hakima Al Said
Sayyida Hakima Al Said, founder of jewellery brand HAK The Label, is continually trying to implement positivity and gratitude into her life. “I try to see the good in any situation and am learning to just relax and not take anything personally,” she previously told . “Practising gratitude and showing more appreciation is also really important for staying positive.”
Nayla Al Khaja
She is the first female film director-producer in the UAE, while also being the CEO of Nayla Al Khaja films. Having directed several movies, they have been presented with awards at various international film festivals as she is also very active in the TV commercials domain, while also constantly directing for various international brands.
Asma Hilal Lootah
As the founder of the Hundred Wellness Centre, Asma Hilal Lootah is paving the way in the wellness space in the UAE. The Hundred is the first fully certified health clinic and wellness centre, which opened in 2008, and now champions wellness in the mind, body and soul for all around the UAE.
Dr Nadia Bastaki
There’s not many women that can say they’re paving the way in a male-dominated field, but this rings true for Dr Nadia Bastaki – the first Emirati woman to be registered as a specialist in Aviation Aerospace medicine. As the Vice President of Medical Services at Etihad, she is not only leading the way in the field for women, but has also been on the frontlines to ensure the health and safety of travellers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the coronavirus outbreak, Dr Bastaki’s role has been “magnified and multiplied enormously”.
In terms of women supporting women, she believes that each and every individual can learn from one another. “I think every woman has a bravery story to tell whether she is a housewife, entrepreneur or pursuing her career – we learn from each and every one of them,” she said. “Every woman today has a powerful story to tell and we should be encouraged to hear and learn from each other experiences.”
Our cover star for December’s – ‘The Party Issue’, Haya Jarrar, is all about hard work and determination, especially when it comes to her brand ROMANI. “I will continue to work hard on ROMANI and grow it further,” she previously told EW. “Nothing brings me more joy or positivity like watching my brand grow and seeing what I imagine become a reality. And I will continue to surround myself with positive and inspiring people.”
Captain Salma Al Baloushi is the first Emirati female to rise to First Officer’s rank at Etihad Airways. In 2020, Captain Salma spoke to us about what it takes to become a woman of firsts.
“We get our mental obstacles from people around us who try to downgrade and discourage us from going ahead with things they’re not familiar with,” she said of her journey to success. “People kept telling me aviation was not for me, or this field was only meant for men, but my batch mates believed the opposite. It’s exhausting, but with the right support of your family, your company and a good understanding of the work environment, it’s possible.”
Her Highness Sheikha Latifah Al Maktoum
Gracing the cover of September’s – ‘The Power Issue’, Her Highness Sheikha Latifah Al Maktoum. As a truly powerful and inspirational figure, Her Highness knows exactly how to keep her mind in champion mode.
“I learned I can only control what I can do. I can only control my actions, not my surroundings or other people’s actions,” Her Highness said on overcoming challenges. “So why get frustrated by things you cannot control, it will not change anything? You have to make the best of every situation and there is always a light at the end of the tunnel even though sometimes you cannot see it.”
Her Excellency Dr Maryam Matar
Having had the dream and desire to serve in the medical field since she was young, Her Excellency Dr Maryam Mohamed Fatima Matar MD, Ph.D has become a pioneer and a visionary in the healthcare space in the UAE.
Not only is Her Excellency a pioneer in the medical space, she is a role model for many women in the UAE seeking to succeed, whether that be in healthcare or other industries. Additionally, she’s able to facilitate change, paving the way for other women and girls in the region. “My role as the Chairperson of UAE GDA and being the most powerful women scientist, gives me huge opportunity to make change and influence decision-makers to bring more learning and career opportunities for girls and women,” she told .
Alison Loehnis, President of Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter is an incredible woman and a true power player. Combining an innate sense of style with one of the sharpest minds in the industry, we previously spoke to her about what it takes to continually stay one step ahead and perpetually innovate in an industry as fast-paced as fashion.
Khulood Thani, cover star for October’s – ‘The Bravery Issue’, combines her entrepreneurial spirit and extensive experience in culture and design and is focused on bringing innovative global fashion to an international platform. “I always trust my gut feeling, I have a special connection with the universe around me, and I like to follow the messages it reveals to me,” she told us.
Her Royal Highness Princess Lamia
Her Royal Highness Princess Lamia Bint Majid Al Saud has made it her life’s mission to help others, particularly advocating for women. Through her incredible philanthropic work, Her Royal Highness is changing the world, one incredible story at a time. “If you are fortunate enough to have access to resources or a raised platform, it is your responsibility to support and empower those who are not as fortunate,” she told .
Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini
Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini is the managing director for the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) and has been vital in the development of women’s sport in the Kingdom. She was right at the forefront when the Saudi Greens Team, which became the first Saudi women’s team ever to join an international event. In 2019, the Greens competed in the Global Goals World Cup (GGWCup) – a tournament that was launched to champion the role of sport in achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SGD) No. 5.
Al-Husseini is incredibly proud of the change that’s happened in the Kingdom, and she only hopes this continues, she told in 2020. “I hope to see more Saudi women become the faces of sport in Saudi,” she said. “Already we have a few very well-known professional athletes and some fitness professionals that are very well-known at the community level as well.”
Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Al Maktoum
Our cover star of November’s – ‘The Fine Jewellery Issue’, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Al Maktoum is inspiring the new generation of incredible women having risen to great heights in the aviation industry. “I’m most proud of becoming the first Emirati woman to join the Dubai Police as a helicopter pilot,” she told us of her proudest moment. “Serving my country by doing what I love doing most is simply the best feeling, and I am deeply grateful for it.”
Alia Al Neyadi
As the first professional Emirati ballerina, Alia Al Neyadi is a creative and passionate human being who pours love into whatever she does. ‘Love is life, it is living and being in this mystery and adventure we call,” she previously told us. “Everything we do is for love and everything we feel is because of love. All my decisions have been based on my love for my art, love makes you brave and committed to the journey ahead, because without love, we are empty.”
Entrepreneur and founder of L’Couture Lyndsay Doran is all about fitness and wellbeing, which led her to launching her own brand. “I have always been extremely passionate about fashion and a consciously athletic, and active person,” she said. “I was in search of a unique product which delivered both fabric and fit, which was unavailable in the market. So, I decided to innovate and design it myself.”
From being the founder of IDegree Design, an integrated interior design agency to becoming the first woman to be appointed as the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, Aseel has become a voice of female motorists in Saudi Arabia. With not much exposure to driving due to the legal restriction for women driving, Al-Hamad took full advantage of the opportunities that came her way and proved to be a success.
Fatma Al Otaiba
Designer Fatma Al Otaiba started this year (and new decade) with a bang, by launching her new luxury brand ODEEM. For the last 10 years, Al-Otaiba dreamt of starting her own handbag brand. The Dubai-based luxury label which aims to focus on timeless leather goods. Combining tradition with eclecticism, the designs draw on different textures and details that are sure to turn heads.
Last year, Al Otaiba taught us about many things to do with mindfulness and gratitude, what it takes to be an entrepreneur and her pride for being an Emirati woman.
Our cover star for May’s – ‘The Mindfulness Issue’, Ola Farahat is a rare combination – educated, beautiful and incredibly down to earth. With 1.2 million followers on social media, Farahat is the perfect example on how to stay mindful and grateful. Despite having been in the social media space for many years, she explains it’s still a “dream”.
“I just pursued my hobby and believed in it,” she told . “I appreciated every person who admires me because they made my dreams come true.”
As the cover star for ‘The Summer Escape Issue’, Rania Fawaz showed us on a 12-hour shoot in 45-degree heat that she is focused, free-spirited and unfailingly hard-working. As she’s built her name in the social media space she told us how there is “no off switch”.
“I think the key to being sane is always to be yourself across all platforms, that way it was not draining and I didn’t feel like I had to have time for myself,” she said. “I feel like the entire day is time for myself because of the way I choose to be.”
Areej Al Hammadi
Making history as a Guinness World Record Holder for the most football ‘hotstepping’ in one minute, Emirati footballer Areej Al Hamadi discussed with us her brave steps towards normalizing women playing football in the region.
Her Highness Sheikha Intisar AlSabah
A member of the royal family, Her Highness Sheikha Intisar Salem Al Ali AlSabah is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, author, film producer, columnist and more. She’s an inspiration to many while empowering Arab women who’s at the forefront of her decision-making. She’s also the founder of Alnowair which is a positivity initiative and a non-profit initiative considered to be her biggest contribution to date to her beloved country.
Salama Khalfan, the founder of her eponymous brand Salama Khalfan Fine Jewellery, is a woman who is incredibly proud of her country. “Everything about the UAE makes me feel extremely grateful to be from this nation,” she previously told us. “The fact that the UAE in the past 49 years has undergone so much development and growth on a multitude of scales which creates a strong sense of adaptability in its people. I feel thankful that I am from a country that does not believe in the impossible.”
Amna Al Qubaisi
Known as the first Emirati female racing driver, especially as she’s no stranger to breaking new ground in motorsport with the Emirati driver making her name during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Al Qubaisi’s success at Yas Marina Circuit was one of the major milestones in her motor racing career.
Yasmin Al Mulla
It takes grit, determination and hard work to follow your true passion in life. Yasmin Al Mulla, the Creative Director of YNM Dubai, knows exactly what it takes and she’s determined to represent the UAE in the fashion industry on a global scale. “I am very driven to positively represent the UAE within the global fashion market,” she said. “From a creative perspective — I to create strong products, to modernize our classic kaftans and to create homegrown ready-to-wear pieces that speak to today’s generation and to focus on high-standard craftsmanship and lasting quality.”
Sheikha Dana Al Khalifa
This Bahraini fashionista has gained worldwide attraction for her supreme clothing choices. While making a statement on every occasion, it’s inspiring to see how she’s grown over the years. She’s also a businesswoman, lawyer and entrepreneur.
Her Excellency Reem Bin Karam
Her Excellency Reem Bin Karam, continually gives back to the UAE community. Particularly when it comes to raising breast cancer awareness. In her role as the chairperson of Pink Caravan UAE, Her Excellency explained how breast cancer can occur in both men and women, the main aims of Pink Caravan, the importance of early detection of breast cancer and more.