The arts, language, and her community are all lifelong passions for Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi.
As Director of SIFF (Sharjah International Film Festival) & FANN (Sharjah Media Arts for Youth and Children), Her Highness uses her ability to make a difference, here she discusses nurturing the next generation and the individuals who inspired her the most with .
What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?
During the week, my first 30 minutes are always getting ready for school and work (me and my three kids, aged 13, 9 and 5 years old), school drop-offs and quickly sorting through WhatsApp/emails on my phone if ever needed during my daily commute from Dubai to Sharjah.
As the Director of SIFF & FANN, you’ve participated in the development of the Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF) since 2013 and founded Sharjah Media Arts for Youth and Children (FANN) in 2012. Can you tell us more about it?
I remember my first interview and being asked if I could see myself more in training or in a children’s film festival! It was not a difficult choice to make. At that time, I had been working for almost 10 years in the field of children’s education in different positions, and I was and always am a film lover! It was not an easy journey having to start from scratch, but the vision and guidance of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi always led the way, and working in assembling a passionate team who love what they do and believe in it made the journey so worthwhile.
Since you’ve led these entities, how has it been received?
The best thing about FANN and SIFF is that they are focused on all things media art. It is never about me taking the helm as I will not always be here, but hopefully, FANN and SIFF will continue to thrive and make a difference. In the end, it’s about the people and giving back to our audience. If there is a continuous influx of creative minds, amazing films, and the development of media arts, this industry will continue to succeed and prosper. Most importantly it is always about Sharjah and the beauty and treasures in it.
What is the overarching goal?
I feel there is always more to achieve and more to offer, especially in the education and media industry. We aim for more success and achievements in the near future, whether it be small or on a global scale, it all makes a difference. When we receive positive feedback and appreciation from students, expressing gratitude, not only for the information learnt in the workshop but also for the changes in his/her personality, that is an achievement all on its own. Winning awards on our rebranding is a success. Producing the first sci-fi Arab animation series is a triumph, but we celebrate in the moment and look ahead for bigger and better celebrations.
What has been the most pivotal moment of your career to date?
Every year we receive incredible and wonderful feedback from guests, trainers, students, and partners, and that is a pivotal moment for me. It is when we make a difference or create change. Seeing how the team has grown to where we are now is a pivotal moment. Completing ten years is a pivotal moment this year.
What have been the biggest challenges to date and how did you overcome them?
Challenges are always there no matter how far you go, every journey has ups and downs. Production was a completely new experience for us at FANN, but we overcame each challenge with an open mind and continued to learn along the way, striving to be better.
Was there a time you have been on the receiving end of such support from other women, and how did that make you feel?
Yes, first and foremost Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, and my mother who has been working for more than 40 years and has always supported me. Friends, family, colleagues, and a team who believe in what I do makes me feel appreciated and motivated and I am very grateful to have that support in my life.
Who have been the female role models in your life and why do you admire them?
Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi for her years of giving and for her focus on children and women and families, and I am humbled to be working in just a small fraction of all the tremendous work she is heading. My mother is also my role model, I have seen her work since I was a child and the way she acts and deals with situations at home or at work has made me who I am today. I always hear comments that not only do I look like her, but I speak and act like her as well, which makes me very proud.
How do you make time for yourself daily?
I am guilty of not making time for myself on a daily basis, but it is my goal to make time for myself because it does reflect on how your day goes (especially at 40 now!) but when I do make time for myself, I like to catch up on some of my favourite series or read.
This is The Trailblazers Issue – how do you hope to support future trailblazers?
In making a difference one way or another on a personal or professional level. It’s always nice to be remembered for accomplishments, but also for touching people’s hearts and souls.