The power of a story

The Middle Eastern woman is stereo typed by the Western and Eastern world as one suppressed, powerless and vulnerable. Having lived in the UAE for the past 12 years I strongly disagree. In my interactions with the Emirati woman, I have known her to be ambitious, accomplished and progressive. Today powerful Emirati women represent a force in their country as key partners building the future of this nation - one we have all come to love and call home. I salute a few whom I have had the pleasure of interacting with and whose stories I am certain will inspire women and leave us fired up to achieving incredible dreams.

For Suad Abdulla a young Emirati Running enthusiast, running alone did not motivate her and left a void deep down. She became distraught with this disturbing thought, which led her to start the first ever-female running club called ‘She Runs Dubai’.  She used the social media to spread her passion for fitness to the rest of the Arab community. This created a stir in the social media front as many like-minded women were waiting for an invitation such as this. Today the group is ever-growing and has a large number of Arab and expat women meeting twice a week for a run in many scenic locations around the UAE. This has given Arab women a platform to pursue running and fitness without the discomfort of being in a mixed gender environment. Suad’s role in founding this movement is a significant force in shaping women’s fitness revolution in this region.

Suad and i at HealthX Forum

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Farah Al Qaissieh started stuttering from the age of 5. In our conversation the 25-year-old Emirati tells me growing up through school years was one of her most trying times. When she reached university she made up her mind to bring about a change to her life and those around her, by challenging her circumstance and conquering her fears. Spurred from her own experiences she founded a non-profit organization called 'Stutter UAE', which aims to bring stutterers together to interact, share experiences and stories. This group has emerged in being a beacon of hope in this nation providing opportunity to speak freely and live fearlessly. As I spoke to this gracefully confident woman who stutters occasionally, I was left captivated by her courage and eloquence. Farah is also the driving force and founder behind a mobile app called 'Discover AE', which is under development. She disclosed to me that it is an app based treasure hunt that let people discover the hidden gems of the city.Farah is the UAE Ambassador for ‘WeAreTheFuture’, a global youth entrepreneurship organization. This inspiring and driven wonder woman is also mentor in several programs. Such programs include, ‘e7 banat al emarat’ – a program inspiring young females to develop initiatives to benefit their communities, and ‘Flat6Labs’ – a startup accelerator in Abu Dhabi.

Farah and i at Women in Leadership Economic Forum 2015

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I believe in the power of a woman’s story and the pursuit of her dreams. These stories inspire and motivate a generation to rise above. In this series my focus is to celebrate women in this region who have risen against all odds. I honor these trail blazers whose initiatives and tireless efforts continues to touch lives and impact their world. There are more inspiring stories on the horizon. Watch this space!