x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Women urged to pursue research careers

Two-day conference focuses on science and engineering.

ABU DHABI // Women should play a greater role in the UAE's growing research and development community, Sheikha Lubna Al Qassimi, the Minister of Foreign Trade, told a conference in the capital. "Since research and development is the precursor for innovation and scientific discovery and is the true engine of future growth in any economy, the UAE Government has placed paramount importance on research and development," said Sheikha Lubna at the Women in Science and Engineering conference.

She praised the work of organisations such as the Arab Science and Technology Foundation in Sharjah and the Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi - one of the organisers of the two-day conference at the Yas Rotana hotel - for their research efforts. "I am extremely proud of the young Emirati women, and men, working in the various facets of Masdar, which is truly Abu Dhabi's landmark initiative," she said, speaking on Monday, the opening day of the conference.

Thirty per cent of the Masdar Institute's master's students are females, noted Dr Amal al Ghaferi, the first Emirati faculty member at Masdar and an associate professor. "It's very important to encourage women to take part in research and development," said Dr al Ghaferi. "It is a vital part of our country's growth. "Women can bring something special to this area; they are patient and care about detail. Socially, they are also very suited to spending longer periods of time in this field."

Sheikha Lubna, who herself is a scientist, noted that UAE women constitute a growing segment of the national workforce. "In entrepreneurship, a staggering 11,000 Emirati businesswomen now support the UAE's economy through the infusion of huge amounts of money, estimated to be around US$4 billion," she said. She added that Emirati women now make nearly 14 per cent of all local investments, account for 30 per cent of all bank deposits, own 33 per cent of vital projects and control about 25 per cent of private wealth.

The conference, the first of its kind in the UAE, brought together 200 professionals and students from around the region. @Email:mswan@thenational.ae