This Saturday is Emirati Women’s Day, which is now in its sixth year and is a date keenly looked forward to. The choice of date is significant, as August 28th was the UAE’s General Woman’s Union, founded in 1975 by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi, also known as The Mother of the Nation. She announced at the start of summer that this year’s theme would be ‘Women: Ambitions and Inspiration for the Next 50 Years’ –  which is a nod to the country marking 50 years since its formation.

With it being the country’s golden jubilee, Emirati Women’s Day 2021 is all about celebrating the dreams and achievements of women in the UAE. A day to commemorate all that woman have achieved in the past 50 years and all they have to look forward to the next 50 years.

FTA Pulse caught up with some leading Emirati women in the business of fashion and beauty to find out just what this day means to them.

AISHA BAKER

Raised in Dubai, Emirati national, Aisha Baker, co-founded her eponymous jewelry brand with South Korean jewelry expert Hoonik Chang. From their first collection, “Mirror, Mirror”, launched in 2018, they have received global recognition. Celebrities such as Elle Fanning have worn their fairytale-inspired pieces, and the brand’s retailers include Moda Operadi, The Diamond Cellar, and Harrods. These are high jewelry pieces that have a feel of whimsy, beautifully crafted, their use of color and enamel is inspired by Middle Eastern traditions.

What does Emirati Women’s Day mean to you?
The unlimited ambitions of Emirati Woman for a better and more prosperous future have greatly shaped the cultural climate of our country. Emirati women have been making their nation proud with their remarkable achievements in business, science, art and many other relevant fields. Their hard work and persistence are truly inspiring, and it is very important to mark a day which celebrates these qualities and the women who embody them.

How does Emirati culture inspire your designs?
Gold has always been a significant part of our culture. For example, giving jewelry as a gift at weddings, Eid, birthdays and childbirth celebrations is common practice in our culture. This can be considered a high form of gifting, but the fact that it passes from one generation to another illustrates how important gold is in our culture and how deeply rooted it is in the tradition of the country. I have been inspired by this ever since I first started doing this job.

Any advice you would like to share with other women today?
Find yourself, spend less time worrying about what people think, do what you enjoy doing and bring your authentic self to life. When you know what you value, and you constantly behave in a manner that manifests those values, then you move through the world in centered way that allows you to do your best. One should always be reminded that other people’s standards do not have to necessarily be our own, and that everybody should be motivated to pursue their own ambitions and live their life in the best possible way.

HALA AL GERGAWI

The founder of luxury lifestyle consultancy Tea Before Noon (TBN), and Elevenish, a global retail platform that works with emerging designers, Al Gergawi just launched a cafe collaboration with Genad Hospitality in Dubai’s plush neighborhood of Jumeriah. The former managing editor of an Arab women’s magazine, Zahrat Al Khaleej, Al Gergawi has worked with brands such as Chanel, Gucci and Vacheron Constantin on tailored marketing strategies. A believer in being a bridge between Emirati talents and international brands, she blends entrepreneurial savvy with an eye for creative talent in all her businesses.

What does Emirati Women’s Day mean to you?
I believe what is more significant is for Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak al Ketbi to decide to assign a specific day to celebrate Emirati Women and highlight their achievements as well as encourage all industries to celebrate us in their own ways. Also, it challenges the industries and different entities and organizations to celebrate different women every year, making it a competition to unveil new hidden achievers. 

From editor to entrepreneur, your journey seems to capture the very spirit of Emirati Women’s Day.
I would not have achieved what I have today if I was not in the UAE. Honestly, I have so many proud achievements to highlight, but the most important one is having the trust of international luxury houses when it comes to localizing their experiences with TBN on one hand, and on the other hand, gaining the faith of regional designers that elevenish.com is the platform for them to reach their dreams and go global. I am a very strong believer in collaborating with my community and I believe that one hand does not clap by itself, therefore I never work solo on any project, and this is how it becomes more fun.

Any advice you would like to share with other women today?
Start young and explore new things every single day. Do not limit yourself to your academic background, or what you think you are passionate about, because in practice everything is different. You have to enjoy what you are doing; it shouldn’t feel like a job! 

SALAMA MOHAMED

The Emirati influencer with over one million followers recently launched all-natural beauty brand Peacefull. Having dealt with vitiligo, a skin condition caused by a lack of melanin, she has often spoken about the unrealistic standards of beauty women are judged by. She feels that in many ways her skin condition is a blessing and her hashtag #InOurSkinWeWin, highlights the importance of authenticity. Her line is based on the principles of Korean skincare, but made to work in the hot climate of this region and is suitable for all skin types and for both men and women.

As an Emirati woman, what does beauty mean to you?
I strongly believe that being at peace with your own skin is the highest form of self-love; that is the Peacefull message and what beauty means to me.

You just launched Peacefull, was this a dream moment for you?
Peacefull coming to fruition was such a monumental moment for me and I hope that others are inspired by my story, so they too can bring their dreams to life. Going through my own skin journey has allowed me to become more confident with all the things that make me unique – I realized I had a community that I owed it to to be my most authentic and vulnerable self when it came to discussing skin and beauty. This is why with the campaign for Peacefull, I decided not to retouch the images – I wanted people to see unfiltered images for what they are – beautiful.

Any advice you would like to share with other women today?
First, you are unique! There is no one like you and that in itself is your superpower and what makes you who you are. Be in tune with yourself and your heart every day. When you work and walk with good intentions, this radiates throughout your person and promotes peace within and to those around you. Also, surround yourself with positivity and don’t forget to hydrate!

SHEIKHA MADIYAH AL SHARQI

Fashion designer Sheikha Madiyah Al Sharqi has dressed Khloe Kardashian, Priyanka Chopra and Heidi Klum, and was named by Vogue Italia as a “Vogue Talent”. She is also the daughter of the Ruler of Fujairah, H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi. Having interned with Lebanese fashion house Abed Mahfouz, she launched her own label in 2012 and worked steadfastly to build her own fashion business, recently launching a summer capsule collection in collaboration with fashion influencer Karen Wazen. Available on platforms such as Ounass and in Bloomingdales, she understands both the commerce and creative aspects of the business. Her love of the 70’s is apparent and this royal designer believes in clothes that have a feel of “everyday luxury.”

Is it important to have a Woman’s Day?
Emirati women have fearlessly contributed to the advancement and growth of the UAE across various fields for many years and I think that is so important to celebrate. Marking Emirati Women’s Day has paved the way to continue recognizing these incredible achievements and inspire more breakthroughs among all women in the UAE.

How has the Emirati aesthetic influenced your designs?
More than aesthetic, I think it’s the Emirati sense of innovation and forward-thinking mindset that has really influenced and guided every part of how the brand functions. While we source our fabrics from Europe, we’re very proud of the fact that all of our production takes place in the UAE, based out of our atelier in Fujairah.

What is your proudest achievement as a designer?
It’s been really rewarding as a designer to see our clients evolve with the brand and show a consistent appreciation for our collections over the years – from occasion wear in our earliest seasons to our elevated daywear designs today. Ultimately, our goal is to see women enjoy styling our collections and feeling confident in them.