x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Sheikha Lubna pays tribute to UAE women

Sheikha Lubna, who led a panel at the oil-and-gas conference Adipec, highlighted the achievements of women in the UAE as well as what has been done for them in terms of government policy.

Sheikha Lubna led a panel discussion ‘A Journey to Leadership’ on the second day of Adipec. Joining her on the panel were Marie Haga, Executive Director, Global Crop Diversity Trust and former Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, and Sumayya Hassan-Athamani, the CEO of Kenya National Oil Corporation. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Sheikha Lubna led a panel discussion ‘A Journey to Leadership’ on the second day of Adipec. Joining her on the panel were Marie Haga, Executive Director, Global Crop Diversity Trust and former Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, and Sumayya Hassan-Athamani, the CEO of Kenya National Oil Corporation. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // The role of women in industry and the success that they can achieve was showcased at an inspiring event in the capital last night.

A female-only audience was captivated by the words of three powerful role models, including Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Development and International Cooperation.

Held on the second day of Adipec, an oil and gas conference being held this week at Adnec, the trio of women took part in a Women In Industry Panel, giving an insight into their careers and thoughts on how to be successful.

Sheikha Lubna, who led the panel, paid tribute to what women have achieved in the UAE – and also what has been done for them, such as in terms of government policy.

“Women here, they have achieved tremendously, from pilots in airlines to actually Civil Defence. They are soldiers. They are in the military. They are also in the special service, in terms of security service.

“They are everywhere. And this is really what is the true story of the UAE. But I have to say that we were there and we have come to this level because we had great men,” said the UAE’s first female minister.

Sheikha Lubna spoke of the qualities that women have, such as compassion for their employees.

“We relate to them as we relate to our own family and I think that’s the golden rule.”

During the discussion, she offered encouragement and advice to women who are hesitant in their careers and worried about entering an industry they are concerned may be too competitive.

Women are self-deprecating creatures, she said.

“If anyone will criticise them, they criticise themselves first. If there’s anything of wrong doing, they feel guilty first.”

The Minister urged them to have confidence, believe, and take that first step – do the challenging job, pointing out that if they fail they can learn from it.

“Culturally, sometimes in the Arab culture, men and women both avoid this business of failure because they think everyone will tell them ‘I told you so’. But who is there to judge? Take your first step, if it doesn’t work, at least you know. You know your boundaries.”

She was joined by Sumayya Hassan-Athmani, chief executive of National Oil Corporation of Kenya, and Marie Haga, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust and a former Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy.

The audience, which encompassed a range of nationalities, was moved to clap and laugh during the session.

Ms Haga received a round of applause when she spoke of a decision she made early on in her career.

“I really decided very quickly in my career that I am not going to pretend that I am a man. I am a woman and I’m going to be proud of it,” she said,

Speaking of the positive attributes that women have to offer, she added: “What we need is the female approach and the male approach and we need to merge that and that’s when we are able to find the solution.”

Mrs Hassan-Athmani gave an insight into her childhood, as well as her career.

“I come from a community where traditionally girls were not educated beyond a certain point because it wasn’t the done thing,” she told the audience.

“In a community like that my father stood out and said, ‘I will educate my girl the same way I will educate my boys’. When the men started coming with marriage proposal from Year 7 he would say ‘my daughter is studying’.”

In terms of advice, Mrs Hassan-Athmani spoke of the importance of kindness and also urged women to be technologically savvy.

She added: “Don’t take yourself too seriously. I have learned that the sun will shine with or without you.”

Women in Industry is a new feature for the 2013 Adipec programme.

ecleland@thenational.ae