Cabinet Member and Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development
HE Noura Al Kaabi , Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs of the United Arab Emirates and Chairwoman of the Media Zone Authority-Abu Dhabi and twofour54, needs little introduction.
As one of the most prominent female powerhouses in the UAE, the Emirati, in 2014, was also named as one of Forbes Middle East’s 30 Most Influential Women in Government; and was awarded Business Woman of the Year at the Gulf Business Industry Awards while she has also held many other titles including board member of the National Media Council, Abu Dhabi Media, Image Nation and the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU).
It is the latter where HE Al Kaabi decided to choose to begin her higher education - and she credits the university for helping her cement the prolific career she enjoys today.
"When deciding the academic path I wanted to pursue, there were a variety of options in the UAE - however, UAEU was one of the few institutions that offered a programme combining two of my interests at the time: management and understanding data,” she explained. "This is why I chose the Management Information Systems (MIS) degree as it appealed to me the most.
HE Al Kaabi said reflecting on her time at UAEU, there were many highlights during
her time of studying at the number one-ranking university in the UAE.
"There were a number of stand-out moments for me at UAEU, but the ones I really remember are interacting with classmates and professors during and outside of class.,” she says. "I enjoyed getting to know everyone and learning about them, as well as working with them on projects and reports.
"My time at UAEU helped me prepare for my work now, where I am constantly interacting with new people. I learned many valuable things from my fellow students and professors, and continue to learn from people I meet today. This is something I find important and necessary.”
HE Al Kaabi said her time at the university helped her learn two vital skills; how to both communicate effectively and research well. "I gained the knowledge and skills needed to pursue my roles through interaction with classmates and professors.,” she says. "When I worked on practical projects, I was able to really hone my managerial and organizational skills.”
"I learned what worked well with people and what didn’t, how to communicate my concerns and feedback properly and how to motivate both myself and a team. The programme helped me realise my aspirations to become a leader and thrive when faced with challenges in life and work.”
Since leaving the UAEU, HE Al Kaabi has worked in a variety of roles, starting in the IT department of Zayed Military Hospital. "In this position, I was able to practically use all I learned during the course of my degree,” she says. "It was an insightful experience as I was involved with the hospital’s information management system and I would also deal with staff, doctors, and military decision-makers.”
After working in the hospital for three years, HE Al Kaabi decided to undergo a shift in her career by joining Abu Dhabi gas company Dolphin Energy as part of the Human Resources Department. "I was mainly responsible for Training and Development,” she says. "I spent four years developing my skills in terms of HR policies and career progress plans for employees."
In 2007, HE Al Kaabi once again decided to change her career course by helping to find the media free zone twofour54 Abu Dhabi to help the creative economy scene in the emirate.
"I was the first employee and would eventually be joined by 30 more people who would bring twofour54 to life,” she says. "This was a particularly steep learning curve for me. From engaging community members about the sector and setting up creative labs, to being on set for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in the middle of Abu Dhabi’s desert, it has been a worthwhile accomplishment to see how far I have come. Working from scratch and building up a new sector in Abu Dhabi shaped who I am and the path of my career.”
"Now, I will continue learning and giving back to the community through my role as Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs where I aim to further my mission of empowering women and the youth."
For all her accomplishments, HE Al Kaabi said her biggest career highlight to date would be her appointment as part of the federal government to represent a ministry that improves the political scene in the UAE. "Given the current tumultuous regional challenges, this position is crucial to me,” she says. “Of course, this achievement comes with the support of great leadership, trust, and the talented team surrounding me.”
While HE Al Kaabi says she draws her inspiration in many forms, she chiefly gets inspired from daily encounters with other people, from the books she reads, and the art she sees. "However, when it comes to my career and nation-building, my biggest inspiration is undoubtedly our founding father HH Sheikh Zayed,” she added.
As she reflects back on her time at UAEU, she has a message for present-day students. "The world may be filled with opportunities,” she says. "But, they only appear with hard work, dedication and, most of all, passion. "Use your youth to explore your curiosities, your interests. Don't settle for what comes easy. This path is more difficult, but, life is a marathon, not a sprint. "The more you enjoy what you do the more you'll be able to contribute to the community and society. Your ambition should go beyond yourself - there is no limit - but, it starts here, today."
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