x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Young Emirati women set to graduate

Their paths and opportunities will differ, and some may approach it with more trepidation than others, but a true-life adventure beckons.

Shaikha al Haddad, is a paramedic graduate at Dubai Women's College
Shaikha al Haddad, is a paramedic graduate at Dubai Women's College

DUBAI // A batch of confident young Emirati women is preparing to make the step from life in a university into the big world beyond.

Blessed with a range of job opportunities many, such as Hajer Al Khanji, can live with their families while they weigh up their options.

Ms Al Khanji, 23, is about to graduate in architectural engineering from UAE University. She admits that for Emiratis, finding jobs is not the worry it is for expatriates, and the push for Emiratisation means there are opportunities in private and public sectors.

"For Emirati students, especially engineers, there are a lot of opportunities, especially in Abu Dhabi and Dubai," Ms Al Khanji says.

While she has several career options to consider, her focus for now has to be on the final exams she is sitting.

"It's not really a burden but we need to consider our future," Ms Al Khanji says. "Architectural engineering is a very wide field so the question is what field I want to be in. I have to consider what the market really needs."

Her priority will be gaining a couple of years of work experience and the hardest part, she says, will be the responsibilities that come with working life.

"In university we're just experimenting, but in the real world I think there is a huge responsibility on us as architects," Ms Al Khanji says.

Hend Kamali, 24, will soon graduate in computing and information systems from the University of Dubai, which she hopes will take her into a career in the rapidly growing field of cyber crime investigations.

But Ms Kamali has not begun her job search, either.

"For Emiratis it isn't difficult to find work," she says. "It's much easier."

Ms Kamali hopes to work for a year at a large company such as Microsoft or Barclays, then specialise at master's level.

Like Ms Al Khanji, her biggest fear is the responsibility of a job, although she is also anxious about working in teams with people she does not know.

"In work, if they give you a task you must finish it," Ms Kamali says. "I don't feel like that at university. We always have lots of time to finish things."

Shaikha Al Haddad, 21, has just qualified as a paramedic and cannot wait to put her skills to use.

Sponsored by the Dubai ambulance service, her career was secured early on.

"I am very confident and excited about my work," Ms Al Haddad says. "Now we will face reality."

Most of her friends at Dubai Women's College, part of the Higher Colleges of Technology, will go on to work but not all.

"Some will get married, others will carry on studying and others will take a vacation while they decide what to do next."

It is not so easy for everyone. Maitha Al Musabeh, 22, is graduating in marketing from the University of Dubai. She has been looking for jobs for several weeks without success.

First Ms Al Musabeh tried government entities but found even they had been hit by the financial downturn, so she moved her search to the private sector.

"I tried applying to many companies like hotels and airlines, and I didn't get any response," she says. "I'm surprised it's been this hard. I know some people have found jobs quickly. Maybe it's luck and timing."

Fortunately, Ms Al Musabeh's family does not mind if she has to travel for a job in another emirate. Unlike many other Emirati women in more remote and conservative areas, she says her family would support her choice.

"I am lucky. They are very open minded. If it was the right job, they wouldn't mind."


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