In the first in a series of interviews with high achieving Emirati women, we talk to Lubna Qassimi – the Director of the Department of Economic Legislation in the UAE Ministry of the Economy.
At just 35-years-old, Lubna Qassim has done more than many women twice her age. In fact, reading through her long list of achievements it’s difficult to imagine how she manages to find the time or the energy to accomplish it all.
This is a woman who broke new ground by becoming the Director of the Department of Economic Legislation at the UAE Ministry of the Economy – a role traditionally held by a man in and an important one at that.
Qassim is used to pushing the boundaries however. She was the first UAE national to ever read law in England and the first to work at the House of Lords in the UK.
Given her impressive CV it’s not surprising that she was last year appointed to set up and head the Economic Legislation Department at the UAE Ministry of Economy and streamline the drafting process of the economic laws and regulations within the Ministry. Her objective she says is to “Strengthen the competitiveness of the UAE in the global market” – a mammoth task but one she appears to take in her stride.
As if this were not enough, she also sits on the committee of the British Business Group as the UAE Alliances Director – a public diplomatic role which aims to foster business relations between the UAE and the UK.
A fellow of the Dubai School of Government, she is a member of the Global Economic Symposium (GES) Fellows’ Advisory Committee and contributes to the establishment of the GES Youth Ministry of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. What’s more she is on the board of Injaz UAE, a business education organisation and the UAE Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments (CISI).
On top of all this, she’s also learning to speak Mandarin. She already speaks no less than five languages fluently. But the question arises – where on earth does she get the drive to do all this?
The answer lies in her upbringing. She cites says her parents as “key inspirations”. “I’m so grateful for everything [they have given me] – from the way I was raised, to the unconditional love and support [that I received from them]. From the time I learnt to take my first steps, both my mother and my father have been my navigators in life; one taught me to believe in my dreams and the other – to stand strong and be courageous no matter how bad the storm.
“They provided me with all the comforts I needed in early life but they also taught me the value of commodities. They engrained in me high moral values of trust, honesty and love; and most importantly, they invested in my education. My father, a businessman, was once asked what was the best investment he’d ever made. He responded: ‘The fact that I invested in the education of all four of my daughters’.”
But she’s also grateful to her husband. “My parents are responsible for who I am today,” she says. “But obviously I could not continue to do this all without my husband’s support and the faith he has in me.”
Being a pioneer in her field, women’s rights have long been a subject which is close to her heart. “Women here need more female role models across different disciplines,” she comments. “I personally would like to see more women working in the law.
However she stresses that she is extremely grateful to the leaders of the UAE for the chances she has been afforded in this respect and their continuing support of working women.
There’s no doubting her energy and ambition but how does Lubna Qassim relax when she does have time off? “If I want to relax my mind, I paint or write, if I want to relax my soul I sit in silence and pray or do yoga,” she says. “I have various hobbies and interests but I am most passionate about books, art and travel and I find great enjoyment in cooking different cuisines. “When I cook, I worry how about it will taste,” she smiles. “Like any woman, I have normal daily worries.”
But she strives not to take them too seriously. “Life has taught me that worry is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do, but it takes you nowhere,” she says. “When I’m too worked up or stressed, I take a hot shower or I sit on my meditating mat and relax. ”
And she adds: “I’m grateful for every time I have stumbled in life because it has taken me 10 steps forward. In every failure, I’ve found the hidden treasure of a way to develop myself – either my patience, my strength or my courage. My reaction to failure. When life gives me 100 reasons to cry, I show I have 1,000 reasons to smile.”