Arab Women shaping the 21st Century: New World, New Dreams

Despite some stereotypes about Arab women in other parts of the world, our courageous women are the heart and soul of our societies. In every generation, Arab women have made a difference and engraved their names in history. Every day these unsung heroines set heart-warming examples by overcoming impossible obstacles, making them our unbreakable beacons of strength.

These women’s struggles have molded them into the remarkable icons they are. From the teenage Syrian refugee girl in Jordan who must now become a mother for her orphaned brothers; to the women entrepreneurs of Yemen, who started their businesses with nothing but big dreams and big hearts… To the incredible women of Sharjah, who have shown that they can proudly excel as modern Arab innovators while also celebrating their cultural roots, which has made our emirate the proud Capital of Islamic Culture.

One big challenge in the 21st century is how to balance modern progress on one hand, with our centuries-old cultural roots on the other hand. But Arab women are already proving that culture is dynamic, and the sight of women in various workplaces has become an everyday scene.

An educated woman is an asset to every family, organization and community. Her ambition to change her community and her world, her prosperous career, and her willpower to shape the future is her armor against any setbacks that life throws at her.

To empower women is to empower the entire nation. Only talent – and not gender – should be the first and last word in getting opportunities. Our society should open the door to exciting new possibilities, from the household level to the highest prospects at national and global levels. An educated woman is the first teacher of any child, because true education begins at home. The mother becomes the moral compass and anchor who instills our values in the hearts of upcoming generations.

Knowledge can never chain a woman down. It gives her wings, unlocks unlimited possibilities and lets her form educated opinions. Make no mistake: only women themselves can determine how far they rise in life.

With the UAE being an incubator of creativity, the Emirate of Sharjah is a vital pillar on which sky-high innovation is built. We have launched initiatives to foster a creative climate where our women can blossom to their highest potential globally, in harmony with their roles in the family and community. This ambitious strategy has enabled many women to excel beyond our borders as multi-skilled achievers: career women, mothers, wives, sisters and national role models.

We have come together today to celebrate the accomplishments of over 700 future pioneers. But we are also here to bring to life our emirate’s vision of empowering women, so they can spread their wings and pursue excellence. This echoes the wise words of our nation’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan – may God rest his soul – when he said: “The role of women is no less than the role of men, and the students of today are the mothers of tomorrow.”

May today’s graduates turn their bright ideas and bright words into bright futures. May you shine a light of inspiration for future generations. Although our expectations are high, our trust in your abilities is even higher. May God protect you as you embark on your professional lives. You have my heartfelt wishes that success will be your partner on every step of your journey, just as success stands with you today.