Abu Dhabi: With the UAE set to celebrate Emirati Women’s Day this weekend, the National Experts Program (NEP) is highlighting some of the program’s female graduates who are helping shape the nation’s future.
Introduced in 2019 and held under the direction of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, the NEP prepares outstanding Emirati professionals in their career field and equips them with the skills to have a transformative impact on key social and economic sectors aligned to UAE’s national priorities.
A total of 46 Emiratis from a wide range of backgrounds have taken part in the last two editions of NEP. The third edition of NEP kicks off in November, and the new cohort will be announced in October.
With Emirati Women’s Day being celebrated on August 28th, we catch up with five women who graduated from the program, and who are leading transformation in their sectors.
Lead of Education – Middle East at Apple
Kalthoom took part in the second cohort of NEP, possessing extensive experience within the public and private education sectors. Prior to joining Apple Middle East in 2022, she was the former Chief of Strategic Partnership Officer at GEMS, and she also worked at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai where she held different roles in her 10 years. This included being the Executive Director of Education Development for all schools in the private education sector in Dubai.
She sees a future where the personal education journey will be redesigned along a continuum of lifelong learning, where everyone acquires a mix of valuable skills to become irreplaceable. She is working on initiatives to help key stakeholders within the sector to enable teaching and learning through technology, as well as celebrating progress in all types of learnings including academic, non-academic, and soft skills.
Head of Space Policies and Legislation Section at UAE Space Agency
Having seen the UAE become the first Arab country to reach Mars and with the announcement of the first regional interplanetary mission to explore the asteroid belt – Fatima is keen to help propel national expertise in space sciences into a new era.
As a graduate from the second NEP cohort, Fatima now works at the UAE Space Agency where she heads the Space Policies and Legislation Section and works with the United Nations committees to advance the international space policy and the dialogue in identifying global needs for global space challenges, legal frameworks, and resources.
Senior Inspection Engineer at Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation
Sector: Policy Making
Also a graduate from the second cohort of NEP, Meera made history by becoming the first female Emirati nuclear safety inspector in 2015 at the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation. Meera has led many strategic projects in positioning the UAE in the nuclear field and providing frameworks that aligns with the UAE’s nuclear energy policy. She also designed a policy framework to help identify gaps in working systems and offered solutions to address issues.
During her career, she served as a member of the Emirates Youth Council from 2016 to 2018 and is currently a board member of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, a role that she has held since 2020.
Maisa Al Qassimi
Acting Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project Director, Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi
Coming from a family that values arts and culture, Maisa Al Qassimi has been developing her knowledge and skills in this field in a career which spans more than 15 years. With a passion for museums from an early age, Maisa, who was nominated for the second cohort of the program, is now cultivating the same passion in the next generation of Emiratis in her role as Acting Project Director of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, which is set for completion in 2025.
Mariam Al Meraikhi
NEP 1.0 Fellow
Co-Founder and CEO of Astrocloud Studios
Sector: Media and Creative Industries
A participant and Fellow from the first cohort of the program, Mariam is a strong story-teller and communicator with extensive experience in the media industry. She has worked for a number of leading organisations including Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company and ExCel London before co-founding AstroCloud Studios to support the creative industries in UAE and the region.
About the National Experts Program
Developed under the direction of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, the National Experts Program is a launchpad for Emirati specialists who strive to play a leading role in the transformation of future-growth sectors.
NEP fosters the development of sector leaders and technical experts who will help shape the country’s future. The program cultivates a pool of Emirati professionals recognized as outstanding performers in their field and equips them to have a transformative impact on key social and economic sectors carefully aligned with the country’s national priorities. Participants will enhance their expertise, professional skills, and leadership ability by mastering five key mindsets for lifelong learning.