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Leading women’s triumphs awarded at Dubai ceremony

DUBAI // Outstanding achievements by UAE women in fields as diverse as civil aviation, business strategy, technology and social enterprise were recognised on Monday night.

Laila Al Muhairi, assistant director general for strategy and international affairs at the General Civil Aviation Authority, won the first award in the professional category at the Emirates Women Awards.

“My objective is to inspire generations of girls in the UAE and overseas. It creates a ripple effect,” Ms Al Muhairi said.

In her career she has brought changes to civil aviation regulations and signed air transport cooperation agreements with various countries.

“I would like girls to learn by example, so I like to get girls here from Latin America and from Africa from fields like air traffic control so they learn what is happening in the UAE,” Ms Al Muhairi said.

“Also, introducing aviation in the curriculum in schools here is a long-term impact I would like to leave.”

The ceremony was organised by the Dubai Quality Group under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Emirates airline.

Participants were judged on the basis of leadership skills, financial planning, career achievements, community contribution and innovation.

Professionals from the Government and private sector were among the 11 selected for inspiring the next generation.

“It was very challenging to establish myself in a profession dedicated to men and big business companies,” said Hadel Al Masri, managing partner of Merit, the first management and financial advisory company run by a woman in the UAE.

“We first started working with small and medium enterprises, to now working with government enterprises and big institutions like the UN and the World Bank.

“It wasn’t easy at first because people think advisory and consultancy are jobs for men, and women have emotional limitations and would be too busy with kids. So winning this is a big encouragement.”

Her award as the second recipient in the businesswomen category marked a double celebration after her son graduated in computer engineering from the University of Arkansas two weeks ago.

“My son was born premature and he has health challenges, so doctors always told us it would be a challenge for him to live. But he has graduated now, so for me this award is doubly special,” she said.

Hamda Ismail Harizi, chairwoman of Gourmet House, which exports caviar overseas, was the winner in the business category. The company has factories in Dubai and China.

“This is a very important victory because it will give her a big push in the future as a pioneer in the caviar distribution business,” said Dr Noora Al Marzooqi, a spokeswoman for Gourmet House.

“It is a very intensive set of regulations for the award, so the company and procedures are thoroughly checked.”

Prof Fatima Al Sayegh, who teaches Emirati history and studies at UAE University in Al Ain, said the award helped to shed light on women who worked behind the scenes.

“It supports, encourages us and highlights the work we are doing,” said Prof Al Sayegh, who won an award last year for her teaching and community service.

“It sheds light on our achievements.”

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(via The National)