startAD and Tamkeen Celebrate 23 Emirati Women Achievers

Emirati Women Achievers to expand into a national network providing opportunities for collaboration and growth

In celebration of Emirati Women’s Day, the second edition of the Emirati Women Achievers (EWA) initiative took place at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) exploring this year’s theme, We Collaborate for Tomorrow.

The event was organized by startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based startup accelerator powered by Tamkeen and anchored at NYUAD, along with the US Mission to the UAE, and the Arab International Women’s Forum.

The event highlighted 23 high-achieving Emirati women spanning three generations who have excelled in a range of disciplines and contributed to the UAE’s culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Furthermore, through this initiative, 74 Emirati Women Achievers will be able to expand into a national network providing opportunities for collaboration and growth.

Her Excellency Dr. Maitha Salem Al Shamsi, Minister of State, delivered a keynote address on behalf of Sheikha Fatima before the awards ceremony. Her remarks included a reference to Her Highness’s ongoing appreciation for the initiative, and her pride in the daughters of the Emirates who contribute to the past, present, and future of this young nation. Dr. Maitha emphasized Her Highness’s standing as a role model whose strength, determination, and vision for the role that women should play in all aspects of daily life, continue to drive the prosperity of the UAE, and serves as a model for humanity.

Dr. Maitha also praised the vital role that this year’s Emirati Women Achievers are playing in the country’s development, adding that the nation would not be where it is today without the energy of women leaders in society and business, whose potential was realized under the visionary and wise leadership of the nation’s Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Her remarks were followed by a keynote delivered by Chair of Tamkeen and NYU Trustee Rima Al Mokarrab, who commented: “Since its launch last year, support for the Emirati Women Achievers (EWA) program has been inspiring. As a result, the program is expanding beyond annual recognitions and celebrations. Our focus is on identifying constructive resources that serve the women innovators of today and those to come. By creating the collaborative EWA Network, Emirati women from across generations, sectors and backgrounds can leverage their collective experiences to lift each other up and propel their businesses forward – while at the same time advancing our vibrant society and economy.”

As part of the network, an expanded pool of female Emirati entrepreneurs and business leaders who are recognized as Emirati Women Achievers will be integrated into the startAD ecosystem as mentors, speakers, and investors, building a growing comradery of inspiring Emirati female role models who create a ripple effect of inspiration, provide support, and offer opportunities to others.

“In the early days of the UAE, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima recognized the vital role that women would play in society. She encouraged daughters, mothers, and grandmothers to attend school together, enabling intergenerational dialogue, learning, and collaboration. This uniquely strong foundation empowered female Emirati innovators who played a crucial role in the nation’s pioneering development across generations. Today, 25,000 Emirati businesswomen manage projects with a total value of over AED60 billion and almost half (47.5 percent) of SMEs are owned by women. In our programs at startAD, we see women founders are intentional about creating social impact, and spreading positive ideas that change societies for the better."

Assistant Director of Communications and Strategic Projects at startAD Nihal Shaikh

The event featured Emirati Women Achievers including Tala Badri, founder and executive director of the Centre for Musical Arts (CMA), Hoda Alkhzaimi, director of Center of Cyber Security in NYUAD, and Fatima Alkaabi, who was recognized as the Youngest Inventor in 2015. The panelists shared stories of the past, celebrating and honoring the pioneering women who helped shape their careers. It also explored the influence of young innovators who are contributing to the UAE’s social, cultural, and economic fabric.

Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi Robin Solomon, said: “The U.S. Mission to the UAE is proud to once again partner with startAD for the 2nd edition of the Emirati Women Achievers campaign. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to nominate Emirati women achievers and join the celebration recognizing inspiring leaders who contribute to the success of the UAE’s pursuit of a world class knowledge-based economy through entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity.”

“With the support of the U.S. Mission to the UAE, startAD has implemented the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) training program in the UAE since 2020. AWE has helped 29 businesses and 64 Emirati women grow their businesses and reach their full economic potential. The results speak for themselves. To date, AWE graduate’s businesses in the UAE have raised $7 million in funding, generated $41 million in revenues, and created 481 jobs. AWE gives enterprising women the knowledge, networks, and access they need to launch and scale successful businesses. We look forward to continuing to work with UAE-based organizations to promote economic opportunities for women.”

Launched in 2022, the Emirati Women Achievers campaign by startAD and Tamkeen celebrates exceptional Emirati women furthering innovation and entrepreneurship. The inaugural edition was hosted under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation. The campaign aligned with the 2022 Emirati Women’s Day theme of Inspiring Reality, Sustainable Futures. It highlighted 51 Emirati visionaries shaping the future of the UAE’s environmental, economic, and social sustainability.