5 March 2023
Meet Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Hazza Al Nahyan, Chairwoman of the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy
Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Hazza Al Nahyan, Chairwoman of the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy discusses the organisation’s mission to empower women in sport.
Over the past decades, we have seen more and more incredible achievements of women in the UAE, in all sectors. From science to literacy, to arts, media and even sports. The development and push for empowerment and equality for women come from within the heart of the UAE and its leaders. Inspired by the vision of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Mother of the Nation, to empower Emirati women to succeed as individuals and strengthen their role as members of the community, we have seen women in the UAE achieve incredible feats and prove they are just as capable, resilient and successful as men, and have the potential to surpass expectations in all areas of life.
The Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy is a not-for-profit government entity of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, established in 2010 with the vision of promoting and facilitating women’s sports in the UAE, encouraging women to explore new sports as hobbies and careers as well as reach their potential and live healthier lives. The Academy is headed up by its Chairwoman H.H. Sheikha Fatima Bint Hazaa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan who is responsible for driving the organisation to help fulfil the vision of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Mother of the Nation, a figurehead who continues to inspire all of the work at FBMA.
Sheikha Fatima Bint Hazza Al Nahyan, who is a keen artist and horse rider herself, is a strong ambassador for cultural development in the UAE, especially connected to women and empowering them through sports. The FBMA strives to make sports an element of daily life for UAE national women of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities; to encourage Emirati women to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle and to further establish the values of sportsmanship in the public consciousness of the UAE. This is done through regional and international sports events; facilitating community activities; managing and developing local talent and through education and research work. We find out more about her work and the mission of the FBMA moving forward.
What can you tell us about the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy and the work the organisation is doing to support women in sport in the UAE?
The Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy (FBMA) is a leading entity that has been working towards promoting and developing women’s sports in the UAE since its establishment in 2010. We provide a platform for women to participate in various sports activities and competitions, as well as coaching and training programs. We aim to empower Emirati women to succeed as individuals and strengthen their role as members of the community through sports.
How do you aim to carry forward the vision of Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Mother of the Nation in the work that you do?
Our work at the FBMA is inspired by the vision of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Mother of the Nation, to empower Emirati women and enable them to achieve their full potential. We strive to carry forward this vision by providing opportunities for women to excel in sports, which helps build their confidence, resilience and leadership skills.
In terms of women in sports in the UAE – what is your vision and what would you like to see women achieving in the future?
Our vision for women in sports in the UAE is to have a thriving ecosystem that supports and encourages women to participate in various sports activities and achieve excellence in their chosen fields. We would like to see women breaking barriers and setting new benchmarks in sports, inspiring future generations of Emirati women to pursue their dreams.
How do you think the focus and perspective of Emirati women have changed in recent years in terms of what they can achieve and what they aim to achieve?
Emirati women have made significant progress in recent years, both in terms of their professional and personal lives. There is greater awareness and appreciation for the role that women play in society and more opportunities for them to pursue their ambitions. Women are now more confident and determined to achieve their goals, and are supported by their families, communities and the government.
Can you tell us about some of the successes you have had with the FBMA so far?
We have had several successful initiatives at FBMA, including the development of sports infrastructure and facilities for women, the establishment of a world-class academy for coaching and training, and the organization of several sports events and competitions including the FBMA International Show Jumping Cup. This event was initially targeted towards female participation only and has grown to both men and women riders at an international level. We celebrated the 10th anniversary of the FBMA International Show Jumping Cup last January.
Additionally, the Fatima bint Mubarak Women Sports Awards helps female athletes in the MENA region to share their achievements and to highlight their successes, proving to society and to the world that we have successful and aspiring athletes hailing from our region.
What would you still like to achieve with this platform?
We would like to continue to expand our programmes and reach out to more women across the UAE, providing them with a platform to participate in sports and excel in their chosen fields. We would also like to encourage more partnerships and collaborations with other organizations to create a wider impact.
As women, there are so many expectations and pressures in all areas of our lives – what advice would you give to women who want to balance a career, family, and time for themselves?
My advice to women who want to balance a career, family and time for themselves would be to prioritize and manage their time effectively. It is important to set clear goals and work towards them in a focused and structured way. At the same time, it is important to take care of one’s health and well-being and to make time for family and leisure activities.
Tell us about your work supporting the arts and culture scene in the UAE with the Fatima Bint Hazza Cultural Foundation.
The Fatima Bint Hazza Cultural Foundation was established with the aim of promoting and preserving the rich cultural heritage of the UAE. The foundation supports various initiatives related to the arts, culture and heritage, and provides a platform for young and upcoming artists to showcase their talent.
How have you seen the arts and culture industry develop over the past few years and what would you still like to see happen moving forward?
The arts and culture industry in the UAE has seen significant growth and development in recent years, with several new initiatives and projects being launched. We would like to see more support and recognition for local artists and more opportunities for young people to get involved in the arts and culture scene.
You are an artist yourself – tell us about the artworks you create and what inspires them.
As an artist myself, I draw inspiration from the rich cultural heritage and natural beauty of the UAE. My artworks reflect my love for nature and my deep connection to my roots.
When are you in your most creative state of mind?
I am in my most creative state of mind when I am in a peaceful and serene environment, surrounded by nature.
We also know you are passionate a horse rider – tell us about your love for horses and the sport.
I have a great passion for horse riding, which is not only a sport but also a way of life. Horses are intelligent and majestic creatures, and the sport requires a great deal of skill and discipline.
This month we are celebrating International Women’s day – what does this day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievements and contributions of women in society. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the challenges that women face and to commit to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Who is a woman that inspires you?
There are many women who inspire me, but if I had to choose just one, it would be Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Mother of the Nation. She has been a trailblazer in promoting women’s rights and empowerment, not just in the UAE but around the world. She has been a strong advocate for women in all areas of life, including education, health, and sports, and her tireless efforts have had a profound impact on the lives of women in the UAE and beyond.
What is a message you would send to women who are hoping to achieve their dreams or take that next step?
My message to women who are hoping to achieve their dreams or take that next step is to believe in themselves and their abilities. No matter what obstacles you may face, remember that you have the strength and resilience to overcome them. Surround yourself with a supportive network of family and friends, and seek out mentors who can guide you on your journey. And most importantly, never give up on your dreams – with hard work and determination, anything is possible.
What else would you like to achieve this year and what is in the pipeline that you can share with us?
As Chairwoman of the FBMA team, our focus this year is on continuing to promote and support women’s sports in the UAE. We have several exciting events and initiatives in the pipeline. In addition, we are working to expand our programmes and outreach efforts to reach even more women and girls across the UAE. I am also excited to continue my work with the Fatima Bint Hazza Cultural Foundation to promote the arts and culture in the UAE, and to create more opportunities for young artists and creatives to showcase their talents.