Entrepreneur Middle East's Achieving Women 2019: Hala Badri, Director General, Dubai Culture And Arts Authority
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"Every day is an opportunity to learn something new.” That’s how Hala Badri chooses to characterize the lessons she has learnt along the way of her illustrious career, which has seen the Emirati professional work at prominent UAE entities like ENOC, du, Dubai Properties, and ADNOC, among others, before settling into her current role as Director General of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority earlier this year. “It is difficult to identify an individual moment that defined my current path,” Badri says, as she reflects on her career so far. “As someone who is inspired by and grateful for everything around me, I have been blessed with a life full of moments that inspire me to surpass my potential. I regard every experience and situation I go through as an opportunity to learn something new. In effect, I am the result of all my stories and journeys over the years.”
As someone who has been consistently lauded for leading teams with creativity and innovation, Badri seems to be well placed in her current role at Dubai Culture, which was established in 2008 by UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler Of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to position the Emirate as a “vibrant, global Arabian metropolis that shapes culture and arts in the region and the world.” According to Badri, her aim in this role is to have Dubai be seen as “an incubator for creativity and creative people,” and that is the ethos with which she leads her team at Dubai Culture as well. “Emphasizing team cohesion, and pushing the team to work towards strengthening the creative economy in Dubai has to be one of the most important pillars of my tenure at the Authority,” she explains. “I believe in people, and empowering them to always aim higher, and think outside the box. Having a hands-on approach is integral to my leadership style, and makes me the team player that I am. As an advocate of research, planning, and strategizing, I also consistently seek excellence and best practices, as well as set expectations to empower people and my team as a collective, for them to consistently be at their best, so that they may uplift the Authority, and, consequently, Dubai and the UAE as a whole.”
Hala Badri, Director General - Dubai Culture & Arts Authority
It should be clear here that Badri is uninhibited about her drive and dedication for the UAE, with her happily paying credit to the nation for having enabled all of what she has achieved so far. “I grew up inspired by the guidance of our wise leadership, inspired by the vision that they set in place for this nation, which instilled me with the drive to progress upon my path of development and accomplishment,” she declares. “Under the guidance of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, we are privileged to be living in an environment that supports and empowers women, and consolidates their important roles in society. This is not only symbolically recognized and celebrated on Emirati Women’s Day, but also through tangible milestones and results set in place for them. I am proud to see the culture domain in the UAE, driven by leading examples of thriving women that I personally look up to, such as H.H. Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dubai Culture; H.H. Sheikha Mariam bint Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Abu Dhabi-based Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, who directs the vision towards art, culture, heritage, health, and early childhood development; and H.E. Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, UAE’s Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development. Female leaders in this space have paved the way to integrating the past with the present, creating opportunities for the future. I strongly believe in the positive impact that women in their community can have, and I am proud that 63% of Dubai Culture’s workforce comprises women.”
When I ask Badri for her advice for professionals in the entrepreneurial and business arena, she replies by sharing insights that have actually worked for her over the course of her career. “The most prominent lesson is the importance of communication, and the need to establish a transparent relationship with those you work with,” she says. “The human experience is one we should all treasure, as there is so much you can learn from the people around you.” This brings Badri to her next pointer for business professionals, which is about always remembering to play well as a team. “Another lesson was that of motivation and empowerment, and how, when shared, comes back to you ten-fold,” Badri explains. “Empowering those around you should be a necessity, as those same people you will uplift will come back to lift you when you need them most.”
On a personal note though, Badri is emphatic about the importance of building oneself up to always be receptive of the opportunities that are around us every day. “Of all the lessons I have retained, however, the thirst to learn kept my spirit alive, and encouraged me to strive to excel at everything I do,” Badri says. “Keep an open heart and mind, and the world will present itself to you it in its most beautiful form.”