x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 February 2018

Women integral to UAE space ambitions

Emirati women are playing an integral and leading role in getting the UAE to Mars, guests discovered at the Global Women’s Forum in Dubai on Tuesday.

Sarah Amiri, head of the of the Emirates Mars Mission Science Team, speaks of the increasing and leading roles of Emirati women in science and technology sector at the Global Women's Forum. Courtesy Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre
Sarah Amiri, head of the of the Emirates Mars Mission Science Team, speaks of the increasing and leading roles of Emirati women in science and technology sector at the Global Women's Forum. Courtesy Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre

ABU DHABI // Emirati women are playing an integral and leading role in getting the UAE to Mars, guests discovered at the Global Women’s Forum in Dubai on Tuesday.

Presentations, speeches, and workshops by representatives of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) on the forum’s first day showed how far the Emirates Mission to Mars and UAE women in the technical fields had come.

The centre put a different face on the roles women played in UAE society said Sarah Amiri, head of the Emirates Mars Mission Science Team at the MBRSC.

“It’s quite different from what you usually see internationally in science and technology, where you don’t have a lot of women participating in the workforce,” she said.

Ms Amiri said with almost 50 per cent of its employees being women, the Space Centre was a prime example of the increasing role of females in the local science and technology sector.

“It shows we’ve reached a level where women are empowered and they have the basics to excel in different sectors.”

Having recently been promoted to lead the Mars Mission, Ms Amiri said such appointments illustrated that individuals were being judged based on their qualifications and what they could bring to the field.

“We’ve got to a point where high skilled jobs are being competed for by men and women.

“This shows there is a level playing field and that there are opportunities for anyone who is willing and able to achieve.”

The MBRSC exhibition walked participants through an overview of Mars with a mini simulator designed to replicate conditions on the Red Planet’s surface.

“What impressed me the most was how engaged the young Emiratis were and how much they were willing to contribute to the workshop,” said Maryam Al Shamsi.

A space science engineer at MBRSC, Ms Al Shamsi said she had seen the increasing interest and involvement of Emirati women over the years.

“I’ve seen more young women at university level getting into the science and technology field and this was evident at the forum today,” she said.

Senior engineer Amel Amin said the exhibition and mission were pivotal in inspiring more women to take up careers in science. “We already have more female engineering graduates in the UAE than males,” she said.

Ms Amin said the local science and technology sector showed “that there are ... careers in science and engineering open and available to women and that many women are already contributing within them”.

tsubaihi@thenational.ae