Who’s the most beautiful, the best and the strongest in the UAE?

Societies are always fighting to guard tradition

Turki Aldakhil

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Societies are always fighting to guard tradition. They resist what they’re not familiar with and fiercely fight all manifestations of what they are not used to. Arab societies, like other societies, used to resist women and fight them as they viewed them as a symbol of shame. If we look back in time, we can see how Quranic verses rebuked Arabs for how they dealt with women as he whose wife would give birth to a female would stay away from people and ponder whether to live with this “shame” or to bury her in the sand!

The difference is that there are societies which have gone beyond viewing women as a symbol of shame and have humanized women and deal with them as equals to men. This is where the value of any society lies. Ever since its establishment, the United Arab Emirates has worked on paving the way for women to allow them to garner influence and be leaders.

A few days ago, the UAE celebrated Emirati Women’s Day. Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum paid tribute to women on Twitter and said women are “partners in development, generation makers and mothers of martyrs. They are the pride of the nation and the match of the soul.” He noted that Emirati women constitute two thirds of government employees and university graduates and one third of the cabinet.

“We do not empower women but we empower society through women. I tell them, you’re the most beautiful, the best and the strongest. Our country will also remain the most beautiful, the best and the strongest thanks to your work and diligence. May God safeguard you and safeguard the UAE for you and us,” he said.

Rich history

Meanwhile, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said: “Our history is rich with women’s contributions and full of stories of success and scarifies. [The role of women] today complements this march and we are confident about its continuation and development.”

I’ve lived in the UAE for around two decades and after visiting various governmental departments and offices, I see that women have been a part of the development of this country

Turki Aldakhil

Emirati women are a model of skilled leadership in different fields. This is thanks to the support of the Mother of the UAE Sheikh Fatima bint Mubarak and other statesmen. A few days before Emirati Women’s Day, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan attended the graduation ceremony of a military training course for female students. The graduates included his daughter and granddaughter.

That leaders are models of leading change in their societies is a virtuous initiative. This helps convince society that what we’re doing is vital and civil. People will thus see how leaders complied with the change they want for their people and citizens. This is an example of true leadership, leadership that has influenced people throughout history.

Celebrating women’s day

Celebrating women’s day was not about making speeches and statements. There are actually models on ground and successful female ministers who represent different generations and look after youths, trade, happiness, education and other fields.

There are also women working in the sectors of aviation, medicine, education, natural sciences and space research. The role of women in these fields includes making initiatives, participating and leading. The point of women’s day is to demonstrate and expand on women’s achievements and not to make speeches about the importance of women’s role while her activity is restrained!

“We don’t empower women, we empower society through women.” This is what Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said. At first glance, it seems that empowering women is akin to an act of deigning or giving or granting.

I’ve lived in the UAE for around two decades and after visiting various governmental departments and offices, I see that women have been a part of the development of this country. Rulers since the days of Sheikh Zayed did not see anything in women that would hinder them from participating. Instead, women have been a beacon in terms of practical and scientific contributions. This is what nations look like when they decide to bravely embark on change as women are strong and are capable of building society.

This article was first published in al-Bayan on Sept. 7, 2016.


Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.


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