Aysha Al Remeithi said hard work and a tough degree has paid off with great opportunities
UAE Portrait of a Nation: Bright young Emirati engineer says end of oil is driving creativity
Aysha Al Remeithi is exactly the kind of young person the country needs.
The 22-year-old is just starting out as an engineer specialising in sustainable and renewable energy, a fast growing industry already capitalising on investment stemming from the decline of oil.
But sacrifice and hard work were key in driving the Dubai-born Emirati along the way.
As an only child, Ms Al Remeithi’s mother invested a lot of time and effort in her education.
“And I thank her a lot for that,” she said.
“She made me participate in many competitions and that was the peak of when I shaped my personality. It started to spark something and I started seeing a difference.”
Although her first year studying the topic at the University of Sharjah was tough, she grew to fall in love with ‘all things sustainable’ and graduated with a grade point average of 3.86 with honours.
“When I was looking for a major to study in high school, I was looking for something new and interesting,” she said.
“I didn’t want to go with the norm. I came across sustainable and renewable energy and I kept reading about it online and saw it was the vision for the future for many countries around the world. One day, fossil fuels and natural gas will [run out] so it had a lot of room for creativity and innovation.”
She felt a lot of potential in the subject which drew her even more.
“The possibilities are huge,” she said.
“It’s the next big thing along with smart cities which I am considering taking a masters in.”
Ms Al Remeithi has a number of awards under her belt, including the Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance and the Sharjah Award for Academic Excellence. But it did not end in the classroom as she took it on herself to volunteer in a number of leadership and renewable energy programmes on the ground, starting with summer internships.
In 2015, she attended the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology’s nanomaterials imaging, materials engineering department, followed by the Al Maktoum College for Higher Education in Dundee, Scotland, the following summer.
“We were focused on leadership skills,” she said.
“I also participated in a Social Enterprise Training Bootcamp organised by Kafa’at, the Emirates Foundation, last year, and became a member of Masdar’s Young Future Energy Leaders programme where I won a case study and earned a trip to the world’s biggest chemical company in Germany.”
She was one of 10 selected to visit the BASF plant, out of 75 candidates. There, she learnt about the most sustainable energy practices. “I never hesitated in taking any opportunity,” she said.
“This happened at a time when I decided to invest in myself. My ultimate goal is to serve my country and even if I don’t have much of a social life, it’s worth it if you invest in yourself and seek whatever opportunity you see in front of you.”
She then organised a “green” trip with a few friends to Iceland where she learnt about renewable energy, including geothermal and hydropower. “Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, mentioned that the last barrel of oil will be produced in 2050 so we need other resources and other sources of income,” Ms Al Remeithi said.
“This is the next step forward. We’re already implementing it in many government entities, like Dewa of which I am part of their sustainability team and civil projects and engineering, and we’re working on green buildings, which also pushed me to certify myself as a LEED Green Associate from the US.”
She also participated in the Mohammed Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations last year where she won first place in the Minds on a Mission workshop and volunteered with the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment and Suqia UAE in Egypt’s countryside for water operation and filtration instalments as well as social development projects.
Finally, she became part of the Dubai Youth Council where her and her team hope to make a difference. “The youth of today will try to start solving issues of the future so the youth of tomorrow will be ready to face them and it won’t be an absolute shock to them,” she said.
“This helps in thinking outside of the box.”
But it all still sometimes feels surreal.
“I never thought I’d achieve all this,” she added.
“I always had a vision to build myself and I changed a lot in the process – my mind is growing every day and I’m seeing things for the first time and I’m loving it.
"But never hesitate - if you’re doing something you love you will do it with passion, you will be happy and able to give much more. I’m hoping to give back in the future for all the opportunities I’ve been given.”