Finding the next generation of female leaders in the UAE

The e7 Daughter of the Emirates programme is moulding the female leaders of the future. Mozah Al Samahi shares her memories of the 'complete A-Z' in leadership

Seven women joined the 29-member UAE Cabinet in the new year. It means that the Federation now has a higher number of women in its Cabinet than the US, which stands at 24 percent.

And it's exactly this enlightened thinking that the e7 Daughters of the Emirates programme, an intensive, year-long leadership crash course for young, socially responsible women aged 18 to 25, hopes to emulate. 

Launched by leading bank Emirates NBD, 35 women comprising three emiratis and two long-term residents of each of the seven Emirates (e7) are taught through a series of workshops and mentorship to design and execute projects that will benefit their communities.

e7 Daughters of the Emirates 2
By 2022, the goal is to build a 3,000-strong 'sisterhood'

This year's process began with a three-day e7 Girls' Summit in April, which matched participants with collaborators and mentors who will work together to bring innovative ideas to life over the course of the year. 

The women's ideas are inspired by the pillars of action set out by the Promise Of A Generation (POAG) community network; culture and heritage; education and career; enhancing opportunity for the less fortunate; the environment and health, and women leaders and family. 

The programme taught us to understand our inner selves and strengths

Mozah Al Samahi, Management and international business graduate

By 2022, the goal is to build a 3,000-strong 'sisterhood' capable of mentoring, supporting and learning from each other, and to influence futher the number of women in senior leadership roles – maybe even the Cabinet. 

Mozah Al Samahi is a management and international business graduate who lauched her business Yala Sarayma while taking part in the e7 Daughters of the Emirates initiative. We ask her what it takes to be a female entrepreneur...

How did you get involved with the programme?

A friend recommended it to me. I checked it out and I liked what e7 did, and what they were proposing to do for the girls of the Emirates. There are plenty of development programmes here, but not like this – it’s the complete A to Z. We received mentoring and we had classes on entrepreneurship and how to start our own businesses.

What was your project?

My project is called Yala Sarayna, which means 'let’s go'. It promotes Emirati culture between foreigners and the UAE. When I came back from studying in London, I noticed a gap between the foreigners and the Emiratis, and I didn’t understand why. I realised that the reason is not that people don’t want to integrate, but they are shy. So I pitched my idea of creating meet-ups to bring them together – a lot of girls around me in the group had similar interests, so we joined together to form a group of five.

What happened next?

The programme starts with the three-day event, so we got to know each other and the mentors. The first days are about learning to understand yourself and others, and working out what you want to do and how to run your business, as well as participating in workshops on how to pitch the perfect idea. We also heard a lot of stories from entrepreneurs here in the UAE to motivate us.

e7 Daughters of the Emirates 3
'The first days are about learning to understand yourself and others, and how to run your business'

What did you do after the summit?

It’s a one year-programme, so we met with each other and our mentors regularly before the pitch date. Then we presented our idea to the board and some banks, and we managed to receive Dhs5,000. From then, we started implementing the project.

What were the most important things that you learned from the programme?

It taught us to understand our inner selves and strengths. For instance, I am good at public speaking – so in our group of five, I would do that. Another member may say 'I’m shy, but I can design the logo’. We all worked to our strengths. Most of all, I learned to be patient and positive. I learned to listen to others and take feedback, and to consider everyone in decisions. I was already familiar with how to carry out projects from my studies, but those projects were handed in for grades, whereas this was handed in to the public. The mentors taught me how to reach out to the public.

Would you recommend the programme to other young women?

Definitely. It actually helps to narrow your focus – if you’re looking to work out your interests and focus on a project, it will definitely help you with that, along with working with others. Now I am planning to extend the project further. My one-year programme has just ended, but that doesn’t mean my project does, I will be carrying on.