DUBAI // Men are at risk of being left in women’s shadows as the latter thrive in education and industry, according to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
The role of women in society was discussed in detail at the launch on Monday of the English edition of Flashes of Thought, a collection of speeches given by Sheikh Mohammed at the Government Summit 2013.
In one excerpt, he warns men to step up as their female counterparts are forging their way forward.
“Beware men lest women deprive you of all the leadership positions of the country,” he said.
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Development and International Cooperation, was one of the panellists at the event, held at the American University in Dubai. She praised the growing opportunities for women.
“Women are everywhere, they are pilots, government officials. It’s great for people to see this change for women,” she said.
Sheikha Lubna, who became the first female Cabinet member in 2004, said Sheikh Mohammed’s vision was to see “how you use women as an engine of change to drive society”.
Eighty-five per cent of Sheikh Mohammed’s personal staff are Emirati women.
“I personally could not manage my daily work without women,” he says in the book.
It is estimated that 30 per cent of the UAE’s leadership is female and that 65 per cent of government jobs are held by women.
Ian Fairservice, managing partner of Motivate publishing house, was also on the panel.
“It’s a warning to men that only 15 per cent of Sheikh Mohammed’s staff is men, that only 30 per cent of graduates are men,” he said. “It’s an example being set here. It’s a stereotypical image that Arab women are not empowered.
“If we could see the same example being set by our neighbours in the region, that would change things very positively.”
Ali Jaber, dean of the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Communications at AUD, said 80 per cent of the school’s students were female, which reflected the desire to have women play a key role in the future of the country.
“Sheikh Mohammed looks further ahead and in setting up the school of communication, he truly believes that the new generation is going to be the leading generation of our times in the Arab world, and it’s these students who will be the future shapers and makers of Arab public opinion, who will really matter in spreading the energy that Sheikh Mohammed has been spreading across the Arab world,” Mr Jaber said.
Topics discussed by the panel included the chapter on risk-taking and calculated risk-taking as perceived by Sheikh Mohammed, who has been at the helm of some of the world’s most daring projects, from the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, to the Palm Jumeirah.
“We were told that building towers in the sea was impossible,” he says in the book. “Today we have the biggest man-made island in the world with hundreds of towers housing thousands of people.”
Sheikha Lubna said Sheikh Mohammed’s vision and fearlessness were infectious.
“There is no joy if you don’t take risks. Life is not an amusement park,” she said.
A student read a passage from the book that states: “Impossible is nowhere to be found in the dictionary of the UAE ... I have no clue who invented the word impossible but it was clearly someone looking for an easy life, a life of sleep and inactivity.”
The book has been published in Arabic, English and Braille, and will be printed in six more languages by the end of the year.
“He is a great living example to take courage,” Sheikha Lubna said. “And also leave a legacy for others. The book is the journey of all of us.”