Jawaher Almehairi speaks six languages and went from being an aviation graduate to a diplomat
UAE Portrait of a Nation: Meet the Emirati polyglot representing her country at the UN
At 25, most people are still figuring out what they want to do in life, or working in an entry-level position at their first job – but Jawaher Almehairi is not most people.
The Dubai-born Emirati has a number of achievements to her name, chief among them is being appointed UAE campuses ambassador of the Youth Assembly at the United Nations last year.
As the first Emirati to hold such a position in the country, she was tasked with promoting the platform in the UAE and encouraging other young nationals to represent the youth community at the youth assembly at the UN. She managed to find five young Emiratis and they all flew to New York and Washington to join the programme. She says the experience changed her.
“It was the first time I had to fly alone to the United States.
“I thought I’d be alone and not be able to communicate but it turned out to be a different experience – I found out I can socialise with others, and I’ve grown a lot from that.”
The Youth Assembly is a platform to educate young people about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and learn about what the other 2,000 members are doing to contribute to their country.
She says the opportunity allowed her to convey the UAE’s message, tell of its leaders and explain how the country’s youth is giving back to their community.
Ms Almehairi’s journey to the UN began in an unlikely place for a future diplomat - with aviation science and management. She worked at Emirates Airline’s engineering centre and interned in environmental and air transport studies at the General Civil Aviation Authority.
The work experience drove her to pursue a double major in environmental management studies at Hamdan bin Mohammed Smart University in Dubai.
“Aviation was a dream since childhood and I always thought I would be an aeronautical engineer one day,” she says.
“I was told it was tough so I shifted to the environment, which interested me, and I also pursued a post-graduate diploma in UAE diplomacy and external affairs at the Emirates Diplomatic Academy in Abu Dhabi.”
She was one of three students from her university nominated to Dubai’s Executive Council to be a member of the Emirates Youth Council – one of 14 in the whole emirate.
“That’s when the whole shift started in my life as we had to work with the government and the youth to convey all the things that the young population required from them. We were bridging a gap that was there,” she says.
Ms Almehairi also worked with the Emirates Foundation and National Media Council, representing the UAE at the Expo 2015 in Milan – a placement that allowed her to use some of the six languages she speaks.
“I speak basic Italian and it pushed me to learn other languages, including Russian and French, on top of Urdu, Arabic and English.”
As a member of the Youth Council, she grew to love working for society and give back to her country.
“I started standing up for causes and became a member of the Young Future Energy Leaders,” she says.
She also presented during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week as a UAE diplomat – a moment she describes as one of her best to date.
“It was like a dream come true because it was the first time to represent my country inside my country.
“I want to make a career out of this. My presence on these platforms was a coincidence at first but I noticed it’s very necessary because our country needs people who are well aware of what society and the community needs.”
Her parents, who did not finish their education, are proud of her for doing what they could not.
“They see everything they wanted to do in life in my siblings and I, who also pursued biotechnology, law, nursing and aeronautical engineering,” she says.
“The moment you start realising how capable you are, you’ll be aware of the gaps and things that need to be improved. You can learn from others and, in this globalised world, you don’t want to be closed off.”
Her goal is to one day become a minister of state in the UAE.
“I want to carry the UAE’s message to the world,” she says. “We might be a young country, but we are not behind.”