x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Emirati women's police sector eager to serve

Emirati women are eager to serve the nation they love by helping to enforce the law. Full story Tomorrow in M magazine.

Hanan Mohmmed al Katheeri, left, and Mona Bushra al Awad are cadets at the Police Women Training Section of the Abu Dhabi police.
Hanan Mohmmed al Katheeri, left, and Mona Bushra al Awad are cadets at the Police Women Training Section of the Abu Dhabi police.

Emirati women are eager to serve the nation they love by helping to enforce the law. Full story Tomorrow in M magazine. When Mona Alawad goes home each evening to her two young children, it is after a tough day spent in flat shoes and khaki, drilling, studying and marching shoulder-to-shoulder with dozens of like-minded recruits. She is one of a new breed of Emirati women who, determined to establish their independence and give something back to the nation they love, say they have found the opportunity to do both in the ranks of the police force. "This country," says the 28-year-old, "has given us a lot and the police is the best place for us to repay it."

The National has been given exclusive access to the recruits and trainers at the Police Women Training Section in Abu Dhabi. In a report to be published in tomorrow's M magazine, Mona and her fellow cadets speak of the opportunities and ambitions that in the past year have fuelled a doubling in the number of women applying for the force. "Here, we learn how to trust ourselves," says Najat Tarish Alili, 21, from Abu Dhabi, whose father, now dead, was a police officer.

"We are not afraid. We know how to defend ourselves and take care of ourselves." No area of police work is closed to the cadets in a force that now boasts proportionately more women than its counterparts in New York or London: dog handling, traffic patrols, community policing, VIP protection - even riot control. In charge of the 200 female cadets who train at the college every year is First Lt Shamma al Muhairy, captain of the UAE Olympic shooting team and a gold medal-winner at the Pan Arab Games in 2007. She joined the force in 1990.

"I wanted to be an independent woman and my father encouraged me to do it," she says. Women, she believes, bring something special to the force: "There is a female touch that is important. Women can be more patient than men in many ways. They will do things perfectly." She has high hopes that, one day, a woman will be in charge of the Abu Dhabi force, which already has four female lieutenant colonels. It is, she says, "more about who is doing the best job, not about who is a man and who is a woman".