Her highness Sheikha Latifa speaking at the Global Women’s forum. 17 February, 2020. Loulwa AlFawal.

Dubai Forum Promotes Women Leaders

Work hard and you will succeed on merit, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, told the audience at the Global Women’s Forum 2020 in Dubai on February 16.

“When I started to work, I started at the very lowest level of the government scale and I don’t think anybody knows this about my journey,” said the daughter of  Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of Dubai. At the time, the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority was at “its initial stage .. basically, a start- up,” she said, stressing the importance of getting your “hands dirty” and enjoying the challenge of working your way up. “You can’t start at a managerial role,” she said, adding that “the process can be beautiful.” 

Speaking at the forum, other successful women leaders also shared their experiences.

Mimoza Kusari-Lila, chairwoman of the Liberal Democratic Political Party in Kosovo – Alternativa, said that she started her real journey in politics in 2009 as a candidate for “a position that was never held by a woman before.” She was running in the election for a mayor position at the local level. She lost her first election but won the second one. One thing she kept in mind, was that if she lost the second election she would be “defined by that loss.” And if she made it, it was thanks to her strong determination, she said.

Ms. Mimoza Kusari-Lila speaking at the Global Women’s Forum. 16 February 2020. Loulwa AlFawal.

Some noted how one’s environment can contribute to shaping a woman’s path in life. Sheikha Latifa said she was influenced by “be[ing] surrounded by very powerful women.” She grew up watching her mother and aunts “influenc[ing] society” and having their “majlises open” to everyone. All this created a “natural transition” for her to “want to do something and work in the public sector.”

Dr. Rania Al Mashat, Egypt’s current Minister of International Cooperation, said she was “raised to be gender-blind.” Consequently, her ambition was not to be labeled as “the only woman in the room, but the best person in the room.”


Shaikha Latifa said opportunities for women are promising, from her experience with the culture industry in Dubai which “has been growing organically for the past 30-40 years.” And Dubai wants to “continue this organic growth,” she said. Conferences such as the women’s forum in Dubai help “tell the girls that there’s nothing they cannot do” and that it’s not about one success story in one country or one continent, but about “promot[ing]” these success stories to the globe, said Kusari-Lila. 

Edited by: Hanan ElKabat

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