WGS2022-PRL: Women are the UAE’s great advantage in diplomacy, says country’s first female minister

  • UAE’s first female minister praises country for putting women at heart of government
  • At same session, Youth Minister urges nations to “seize the golden opportunities”
  • She adds that ministers should think like “chess players” and be “five steps ahead”

Dubai, 30 March 2022: Women are a great advantage and influence who can advance the UAE’s diplomatic and economic interests around the world, policymakers heard today at the World Government Summit 2022 (WGS2022).

Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, the UAE’s first female minister, told attendees how the UAE leadership had sent her to Washington years ago to negotiate a complex and strategically important deal to acquire six major American ports.

She said: “It shows the intellect of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, and Prime Minister of the UAE, and ruler of Dubai, because he deliberately sent me and recognized that I might be useful at overcoming barriers facing the UAE in the West.”

H.E. Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi made national history in 2004 when she became the first Emirati female cabinet minister. She added: “Appointing me as the Minister of Economy was not a symbolic decision.”

Joining her at the plenary session was Her Excellency Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs. Born in 1993, she became a minister in 2016 at the age of 22, making her the world’s youngest cabinet minister at the time of her appointment.  

Describing the future role of government, she said ministers should think like “chess players” and strive to be “five steps ahead”. This approach to government has seen the UAE rank first in the world on Bloomberg’s Covid-19 Resilience Ranking.

“We were agile and resilient,” she said of the government response during the Covid-19 pandemic. “We built confidence with people. We built strong systems to weather storms such as the pandemic. The capability of the government team and our unity created a stronger team and a better response.”

“This is the strategic vision of the UAE,” she added. “We hosted Expo 2020 Dubai, we sent an unmanned spacecraft to Mars, we launched a nuclear reactor, and we opened the Museum of the Future. We have always faced challenges and taken advantage of the golden opportunities of our time.”

The UAE is ranked first in the MENA region on women’s inclusion, justice, and security. It is a leader in increasing women’s representation in government, recording gender parity in 2021. In the corporate world, one in 10 UAE businesses are owned by women. Participation is particularly strong in the public sector, where women hold two-thirds of jobs, with 30% in leadership roles and 15% in technical and academic roles.

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