Aysha Al Kaabi has smashed the glass ceiling to achieve great heights
“If you do not try, how will you leap?.. Go for it.” – This was the advice Aysha Al Kaabi, programme analyst, Democratic Governance, at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), had to offer the new generation and UAE women.
She was speaking at the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) during the UOWD-DBWC Women and Leadership Seminar Series.
The series was launched by Dr Payyazhi Jayashree, associate dean (education) and associate professor (HR) at the UOWD, in collaboration with the Dubai Business Women’s Council (DBWC) with a view to making a contribution to the dialogue and debates surrounding gender issues and women in corporate leadership and entrepreneurial positions in the UAE.
Al Kaabi was the first guest at the second series of the UOWD-DBWC Women and Leadership Seminar Series held in Dubai.
“The Women and Leadership Seminar Series is a wonderful platform for women from the region to share inspiring stories about how to create a positive and sustainable impact through leading change at individual and collective levels,” said Al Kaabi.
She received her MA in developmental biology and tissue culturing from the University of Arkansas, USA, in 2001. She has conducted and published research on cell motility at the University of Arkansas. In addition, she also worked as a co-researcher on tissue culturing with Dr C.F. Bailey at the Developmental Biology Lab, University of Oklahoma, USA.
Prior to her previous roles as researcher, Al Kaabi was a teacher’s assistant at the department of biology at the UAE University.
Upon her return from the US, where she resided from 2004 until 2008, Al Kaabi decided on a different career path and accepted the role of assistant secretary-general and the head of Unesco department at the UAE National Commission for Unesco (Ministry of Education, UAE).
In 2008, she decided to broaden her horizons and pursued a career in media and broadcasting. She became a news presenter at Abu Dhabi TV, presenting the local news ‘Oloom Addar’ and in 2009, obtained a similar position at Dubai TV.
In 2010, having gained industry experience, she quit her broadcasting career and became media and publishing supervisor of ‘Kalima’, a translation project launched by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, after which she joined Khalifa University to manage the Discovery Centre.
Keen to take on yet another challenge, Al Kaabi joined the UNDP in 2013 as a Democratic Governance Analyst and soon became the Head of Programme Unit. She is currently both the gender and youth focal point at UAE Office.
During her career, Al Kaabi has attended many training courses in the UAE, US, Tunis, Jordan and Egypt. She was the first woman to be chosen by the UAE government for the Spokesperson Empowerment Course – Managing Crisis, at the Abu Dhabi Media Company (Twofour54).
Adding to her diverse background, Al Kaabi is a short story writer, poet, artist and member of Emirates Writers union since 1997. She won the Emirati Woman Award in Literature and Art in 2011 for her book No consolation for House cats.
The founder and CEO of IQRAni Publishing House said UAE women are breaking away from conventional approaches and making a mark for themselves globally.
She explained that women in this region have been deprived for a long time from going to schools and getting educated because of hard environmental and social factors, and that the door was opened by the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE.
“We made sure that we grabbed the opportunity and never wasted more time. It is like we vowed to ourselves to make this country proud of us,” said Al Kaabi.
“We are blessed in this country to have a leadership that believes in women and supports them beyond any limits; this is key to the success of Emirati women. It paved the road to achieve our goals while still being true to our core values.”
The go-getter said: “UAE women have to be the best ambassadors to their country, and never forget that they are luckier than their grandmothers who had the same ambition maybe but didn’t have the privilege, facilitations and luxury that we are enjoying today.”
The mother of four kids said: “It is not the amount of time that we spent with our loved ones that matters, it’s the quality of time. Arrange your priorities and never be ashamed of taking some time out to make yourself happy. Our kids don’t need our negative energy, they need us to be happy so we could spread the happiness to them and around them.”