Sheikha Lubna Al-Qasimi
In November 2004, Sheikha Lubna Khalid Sultan al Qasimi became the first woman in the history of United Arab Emirates (UAE) to be appointed in a cabinet position as Minister of Economy and Planning. Sheikha Lubna graduated from the California State University with a BS degree in Computer Science and received an Executive MBA from the American University of Sharjah. I admire her not only because of her successful careers but also because she is one of few inspiring women whose jobs related to Information Technology!
This is what she has to say about working with men / in a men-majority work environment:
I have to pay extra attention to demonstrate to them where I come from… that I am not there to fight their egos. I am there to create a future for them and let them carry on their path and forget about me.
It’s not their fault. It’s the way they have been raised. I would have been extremely narrow-minded if I was out there to correct them. Then it’s my ego. You can’t blame them for it.
I know where their distrust comes from. It is lack of knowledge. They don’t know. You have to give them the time to trust you. You have to deliver before you demand their acceptance. You have to have the patience. You have to have the discipline. WomenOne.org
Prior to becoming a minister, she worked in several companies as a programmer and senior manager of the information system department. In 2000, she was appointed by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum as Chief Executive Officer of Tejari, the Middle East’s premier electronic business-to-business marketplace. She is now serving as a board member of Tejari and several other organisations.
Sheikha Mozah Al-Missned
If you saw the spectacular opening ceremony of Asian Games 2006 in Doha several weeks ago, you’d notice a woman sitting on the left side of Qatari Emir. Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned is the second wife (out of 3) of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, the current Emir of Qatar. She graduated from the University of Qatar in 1986 with a BA in Sociology and has been awarded honorary doctorates from Virginia Commonwealth and Texas A&M.
Sheikha Mozah has been actively involved in education and social reforms in Qatar. She is a chairperson of non-profit institution Qatar Foundation which funded an 800 hectares Education City, Qatar in 2003. The city is home to branch campuses of several American universities, local universities, schools, and research organisations.
As a result of her works to improve Qatari education, in 2003, the UNESCO appointed Her Highness special envoy for Basic and Higher Education. She also serves as president of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs which aims at strengthening the role of the family in society. In 2005, Sheikha Mozah was nominated as a member of the United Nations High-Level Group of the Alliance of Civilisations for fighting terrorism.
She is seen as a role model for many Qatari women and she encourages them to participate in public life. She is another representative of Muslim women known for her social and educational efforts. I like the way she dresses, so humble and modest.
Sheikha Haya Al-Khalifa
Sheikha Haya Rashed Al-Khalifa is one of the first two women to practice law in her country, Bahrain. Holding a law degree from the University of Kuwait, she became a lawyer in 1979 and founded Haya Rashed Al Khalifa Law Firm. She made headlines when she was elected President of the 61st United Nation General Assembly on 8 June 2006. She is the first Arab woman to assume the position and only the third woman ever to hold the position since 1969.
From 1997 to 1999, Sheikha Haya was the vice-chairwoman of International Bar Association, an international professional body of lawyers. Again, she was the first Middle Eastern woman to serve this role. She became Bahrain’s ambassador to France from 2000 to 2004. She has been actively involved in women’s rights, particularly “in the movement to elevate the position of women in Bahrain before the Islamic sharia courts” [United Nation]. She speaks Arabic, English, and French.
According to Wikipedia, Sheikha Haya is a member of the ruling Al Khalifa family of Bahrain and the great-granddaughter of Isa ibn Ali Al Khalifa, who ruled Bahrain from 1869 to 1932.
There are many Khaleeji women who became the leader in their countries and take an active role in women rights. These women include Nada Haffadh, Bahrain’s first female cabinet minister (Minister of Health); Lulwa Al Awadhi, a women right’s advocate; and Massouma al-Mubarak, a political science professor and the first Kuwaiti female minister.
A question to ask: When will Saudi society appoint the first woman leader??? It looks like they still have a looong way to go. Just recently, Dr. Yousef Al-Ahmed, a presenter from King Saud University at an international medical seminar, insisted that ALL women leave the room before he would enter the room to give his presentation. If thousands of stupid men like Yousef exist in Saudi Arabia, then this nation needs a brave and hardworking woman to break the rule!
* Khaleeji is related to the culture or people of Arab Gulf states which include Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. These countries, usually referred as GCC, share similar Arab accent/dialect, culture, and music.