My UAE: How Sheikha Dr Alia Humaid Al Qassimi balances a thriving career with family life
Sheikha Dr Alia Humaid Al Qassimi successfully combines a thriving career with family life.
Al Qassimi, a mother of five, is not only an accomplished gynaecologist specialised in plastic aesthetics and reconstructive surgery, but she is also the acting chief executive of the Social Care and Development sector of the Dubai Government, where she handles disability and the treatment of people with special needs.
“In addition to my practice, in the mornings I work as an expert for the Community Development Authority, leading two main taskforces on the Dubai disability strategy for 2020,” she says.
“I work on programmes and strategies that will ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce, safeguarding their leadership and development.
“And I put together policies to guarantee we are aligned at the state level with the federal level in fulfilling the goals of the United Nations Convention of Rights for people with disabilities, which the UAE signed and ratified.”
Her contributions to the social sector and the workforce earned Al Qassimi the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award at last year’s Arab Women Awards.
More recently she received the Woman Leader Award in the Community Development Excellence category at the 19th Global Women Leaders’ Conference in Dubai – in conjunction with International Women’s Day in March – which was attended by female leaders and delegations from across the globe.
“As a married woman, mum of five children and role model in the social and medical fields, I am proud to wear two hats,” says Al Qassimi.
“A strong woman is a generous leader both professionally and personally. There are no limits to what the Emirati woman can do locally and internationally. I send out positive messages as an Emirati, a woman, a doctor, a specialist and as a person in the community through all platforms, including social media.”
Al Qassimi’s foray into the medical field was no accident. Severely asthmatic as a young child, hospitals became a familiar place and she had nothing but admiration for her doctor who made her feel better so often.
“I wanted to have that touch on people’s lives and this is what inspired me to get into this field,” she says.
Al Qassimi has more than 18 years’ experience in the healthcare sector. She studied in the UAE and internationally and is a senior member of the European Society of Aesthetic Gynaecology. “This is a new trend,” she says.
“There was nothing in this field in the UAE, so I travelled to seek this training in Europe and brought it back to make it available to women locally.”
In 2006, wanting to bridge the gap between administration and the medical staff, Al Qassimi joined the Dubai campus of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and graduated with a master’s in Healthcare Management in 2008.
She is also a 2013 graduate of the Women Leadership Exchange Programme, a collaborative effort between the UAE and Lund University in Sweden, and a board member of Women for Sustainable Growth – a non-government organisation that aims to increase cooperation and research between Scandinavia and the Gulf and empower women.
Sharing advice with women who would like to pursue a career in the healthcare industry, she says: “I would recommend joining RCSI in Dubai and Ireland as they offer programmes at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels.
“Also, as a woman, I would add that women should go through their qualifications as early in life as possible because we get busy fast and it only gets harder.”
Despite her many notable accomplishments, Al Qassimi’s five children remain her greatest achievement.
“My children keep me going,” she says.
“They are my reassurance that whatever time I spend with them is quality time and they are proud of what I do.”
Who is your favourite superhero?
A strong woman like Wonder Woman.
If you could go back in history, when would you travel to?
I don’t like to go back, so I would choose to travel into the future.
If you could have anyone, alive or deceased, over for dinner, who would it be?
What tourist attractions do you recommend for visitors to the UAE?
A combination of the more traditional with the Islamic culture of Sharjah, and the Burj Khalifa, the icon of “nothing is impossible”.
What’s your favourite film?
Me Before You.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
Anywhere I haven’t yet been in the world.
Who is your inspiration?
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.
Who is your favourite actress?
What type of music do you like listening to and who is your favourite artist?
It depends. I’m a Gemini, so my mood plays a big role in the type of music I like to listen to. My favourite singer is Mohammed Abdo.
What three things would you want if you were stuck on a deserted island?
Food (I love food), my phone and my children.
What do you do to relax?
I usually take a break by going for a massage.