The WILL Summit is coming back this year with a new digital format. The goal has always been to give a voice to women who are making a difference and celebrate the accomplishments of Emirati women. The WILL Initiative was started in 2019 by our publisher Nervora with the help of UN Women and the General Women’s Union. Its goal is to highlight women’s accomplishments to inspire many more people to make a difference.
The event brings together successful women from all walks of life, such as businesswomen, athletes, artists, teachers, and politicians, to support social action by women. As the second WILL Summit, which will take place virtually this year, gets closer, Vogue. I highlight eight inspiring Emirati women who have made a name for themselves in different fields in the country.
HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Nation’s Mother
Sheikha Fatima, bint Mubarak, is regarded as both the Mother of Sheikhs and the Mother of the Nation. She was the first person in the country to advocate for women’s rights, and she has spent decades developing and empowering women in the region and worldwide.
the creator and chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, the supreme chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, and the president of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood. Given more than a million dirhams to the Red Crescent Society for charity work and humanitarian projects.
The Mother of the Nation’s determined campaigning and many news organizations have led to significant advances in women’s literacy and participation in government, sports, and culture. This has raised the status of Arab women around the world. Because Her Highness is a leader in this field, she has won several prestigious awards and titles.
Sarah Al-Amiri, the UAE’s Minister of Advanced Sciences
The UAE successfully sent the Al-Amal (which means “Hope”) probe to Mars on July 20, 2020, and it arrived on February 9, 2021. Sarah Al-Amiri, the Science Lead and Deputy Project Manager at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, was in charge of the UAE Mars Mission.
She is the Minister of State for Advanced Technology and the head of the Emirates Scientists Council. In 2017, Al-Amiri was the inaugural Emirati to speak at an international TED stage event. She talked about the first Arab initiative to reach Mars. The project Hope is run by a team of people under 35, and 34% of them are women. An entire country is putting its Hope in a group of young people and sending a message to the region.
Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, a designer and curator,
People say that Hoor Al Qasimi improved Sharjah’s art scene and helped it become known worldwide. She was the director of the Sharjah Biennial and the founder of the Sharjah Art Foundation. After the death of her brother Sheikh Khalid Al Qasimi, she took over as the creative director of Qasimi menswear.
Al Qasimi was a passionate avant-garde curator who worked hard to grow the Foundation to include important exhibitions and shows, fellowships in visual arts, music, and film, commissions for new artists, and educational programs for people of all ages. She told Vogue Arabia that she is a workaholic and that having a job is essential because independence is the most important thing.
Zahra Lari, figure skater
In 2019, young Zahra Lari was the first figure skater from the UAE to compete internationally. She was proud to wave the UAE flag at the FISU Winter Games in Russia. Lari was a five-time national champion. At the European Cup in Italy in 2012, she was the first woman to figure skate while wearing a headscarf in front of an international panel of judges. This broke many barriers for Muslim girls.
Her points were taken away because of this, and she went to the International Skating Union to complain until officials were told that the headscarf wasn’t a rule violation. Lari told FISU that this is the main message she wants to send to girls: Don’t let any of it stop you from doing the things you love, especially since you’re covered.
HE Reems Al Hashimi, Minister for International Cooperation
As the Managing Director of Dubai’s World Expo 2020 bid, HE Reem Al Hashimi led the UAE to a historical event in November 2013: Dubai successfully hosted the World Expo 2020. Al Hashimi is the Minister of State for International Cooperation in the UAE. Since 2007, he has also been the Chairperson of Dubai Cares, an international charity that helps developing countries get a good education. Her Excellency is very committed to giving Emirati women and children in the country more power.
Sheikha Mozah Al Maktoum, pilot
Captain Sheikha Mozah Al Maktoum gave her dream wings and did a lot of firsts. She was the first woman to fly for the Dubai royal family, the first woman to fly for a commercial airline in the UAE, and the first woman to be named the First Lieutenant Pilot of the Dubai Police Air Wing. In 2016, she finished the CAE Oxford Aviation Academy’s ATPL (A) First Officer Program.
Al Maktoum also wants to encourage other Emirati women to follow their dreams in aviation, so she started the Women in Aviation Association. In a question and answer session with Vogue Arabia, the Emirati royal said, “I have been blessed to play a role in a country that has been at the forefront of women’s empowerment in the region.”
Nayla Al Khaja, filmmaker
The UAE film industry has grown thanks to Nayla Al Khaja, the first Emirati women film director and producer greatly. Al Khaja made history at the 71st Cannes Film Festival in 2018 when the Producers Network accepted her project, Animal, and she was the first Emirati to have this happen.
She has produced and directed numerous short films, documentaries, and movies, such as Unveiling Dubai, The Neighbor, and The Shadow. Al Khaja is the CEO of Nayla Al Khaja Films and the founder of The Scene Club, which was Dubai’s first film club. She supports new talent and fights for women’s roles in the film.
Nora Al Matrooshi, an astronaut
Nora Al Matrooshi became the first Arab and Emirati women to go to space on April 10, 2021, and she was the 66th woman in the world to go to space. Al Matrooshi was chosen out of more than 4,000 candidates to be trained for future space exploration missions.
He has worked for Abu Dhabi’s National Petroleum Construction Company, which constructs oil and gas platforms for companies. She went on now to depict the UAE at the UN International Youth Camp in 2018 and 2019. She did this because she was very interested in helping young people in the MENA region.