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For Emirati Women's Day 2023, Here's To Shaping A Future That Knows No Bounds Ranked as a leading country in gender equality in the region according to the World Economic Forum's 2023 Global Gender Gap Report, the UAE is trailblazing equality and opportunity for women.

By Abeer Alshaali

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The carefully crafted theme of each Emirati Women's Day is always thought-provoking, but this year's theme, "We Collaborate for Tomorrow," feels particularly poignant.

As a mother, wife, and businesswoman, my greatest achievements have been realized at times of collaboration- with colleagues, with family, and within the community of inspiring Emirati women.

When thinking about how my role as Deputy Managing Director at Gulf Craft marries with the theme of this year's Emirati Women's Day, the collaborative nature of life at sea comes to the forefront of my mind. Every vessel, from a fishing boat to a mega-yacht, needs a crew. And the most majestic and most impressive vessels have scores of people working together behind the scenes.

Greatness is not achieved alone; as we charter sometimes choppy waters navigating the path to tomorrow, we should all be leaning on our team.

This is the eighth Emirati Women's Day that has been celebrated in the 51 years of the UAE. As a young nation on the global stage, I am immensely proud of what my country has achieved in five short decades.

What were the UAE's founders dreaming of when they thought about "tomorrow"? Tomorrow came quickly for the UAE, but the rich heritage, culture, and intrinsic values of the UAE of yesterday still remain at our core. It's an exciting illustration of the change that can occur in a short space of time if we unite and empower one another, and keep a steadfast vision.

Emirati Women's Day is also an opportunity for me to reflect on my position as a woman at Gulf Craft. As a female executive in a male dominated industry, a place many of my esteemed female Emirati peers find themselves in, I would like to remind them that not only are they are deserving of their place at the table, but they are welcomed with open arms- especially in the UAE.

Ranked as a leading country in gender equality in the region according to the World Economic Forum's 2023 Global Gender Gap Report, the UAE is trailblazing equality and opportunity for women. An above-average number of Emirati women enroll in higher education, and make up a significant percentage of all university graduates in the UAE. What's also encouraging is the fact that women make up almost half of all UAE government university graduates with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) qualifications.

The country has also achieved parliamentary parity since 2021, and affords women the same legal status, claim to titles, access to education, right to practice professions, and right to inherit property as men.

At Gulf Craft, the notion of paving the way for tomorrow is at the heart of our innovation. We believe that success is not a reward, but motivation to set out on a path of difference. I believe it is this perseverance that allows us to create our world-class masterpieces.

Our iconic Majesty 175, the world's largest composite production super-yacht, has gained widespread recognition for pushing boundaries. Yet, our dedication to innovation and progress doesn't stop there. We are constantly engaged in exploring fresh and inventive solutions, and this ongoing commitment to pushing limits and embracing novel approaches is a great source of pride and satisfaction for all of us. It's this approach to being amongst the best in the world that marries beautifully with the theme of collaborating for tomorrow.

Related: startAD's Emirati Women Achievers 2023 Celebrates 23 Female Innovators From The UAE

I can't help but draw comparisons between the craft of yacht building and the advancements of Emirati women– processes which take an incredible vision, and turn it into something real. The idea of turning dreams into reality continues to capture my imagination.

What's truly heartening is that this sector stands apart from others, devoid of the systemic biases that hinder progress. I am a staunch believer that the only entry requirements to the yachting industry -or any other male-dominated industry- is passion, a commitment to your role, and a fulfilment of your responsibilities.

If a woman delivers on these three core beliefs, there will always be a seat for her in the boardroom.

Gulf Craft has made significant advancements in achieving gender balance in leadership roles, and the number of females on the team is growing, which is thrilling to me. When I think about my hopes for the future of Gulf Craft, I can only predict that women on the team will be so commonplace that it is no longer a topic.

Gender should never be a hurdle on the path to a fulfilling career. To women aspiring to navigate the yachting world, I say equip yourself with knowledge and experiences, and let passion be your compass.

In my leadership role at Gulf Craft, much of what I do involves supporting individuals to allow them to excel, either ensuring the provision of resources, helping them address challenges, or simply offering my perspective– in short, collaborating.

For women who are mothers, it is curious that we are not always conscious of how our children see us. We are so focused on their needs that we may forget to contemplate how we are perceived through their eyes.

My daughter recently revealed that her friend had selected me in a project to represent successful Emirati women- a humbling revelation, and a reminder that our youngsters are watching.

That led me to think about the way we don't hesitate in pouring support and encouragement upon our children to help them thrive, but conversely, perhaps we miss opportunities to adequately nurture ourselves.

So, as we celebrate the wonderfully gender-equal government policies, and women-focused initiatives, let's not forget to simply be our own best cheerleaders.

Boat building has always held a magical appeal for me, as it weaves together engineering, science, design, and a hint of magic. Throughout my career, I've witnessed the yacht building industry evolve and adapt as technology constantly strides ahead.

As an Emirati woman in the yachting industry, my mission is simple- elevate our global presence, and proudly represent the UAE as a distinguished yacht builder. As "we collaborate for tomorrow," we are shaping a future that knows no bounds.

Related: Collaboration: The Fuel Driving The UAE's Diverse, Sustainable, Ever-Ambitious Future

Abeer Alshaali

Deputy Managing Director, Gulf Craft

As the Deputy Managing Director at Gulf Craft, Abeer Alshaali is responsible for overseeing the expansion of the company’s network in the US, Europe, and other key markets, while extending guidance to the executive management team.

Raised and educated in the United States of America, Abeer Alshaali spent her summers vacationing in the UAE, visiting the Gulf Craft factory and showrooms, and, in turn, establishing a commitment to the company in her childhood. She was always interested in supporting the family business; however, after completing her bachelor’s degree at Rice University in Houston, Texas, she joined HSBC to gain experience.

Following her professional years, Mrs. Alshaali took time off work to raise her own family and be actively involved in the Parent Teacher Association of Dar Al Marefa School in Dubai, managing all finances for the association. Later, she joined the Gulf Craft organization and worked in the Executive Office, handling the management of the company alongside her father. She has successfully overseen the implementation of new processes and has been instrumental in enhancing the efficiency and structure of the company.

Mrs. Alshaali is also a board member of the Ajman Media City Free Zone, and she serves as a mentor in the Shaikh Abdulaziz Bin Humaid Leadership Program.

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