While most young adults seem deeply engrossed in making a list of and trying to fulfill what are considered self-satisfying goals like backpacking across Asia, Africa and/or Europe, vlogging or becoming a YouTube star no matter how short-lived the fame, or blogging about the minutest details about one’s life and gaining millions of followers in the process, young women like Hidaya Al Falasi are taking a different path – a more traditional yet trailblazing road to making that difference we like to speak of but do not always get to accomplish.
With the UN Global Compact (UNGC) as her vehicle in ascertaining she does not stray far from her chosen path, Hidaya is making sure she stays true to the mission she seeks to fulfill.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in a large multi-generational family which I believe to be the main factor that has enriched my knowledge and exposure to a wide range of experiences and schools of thought to feed from and learn through. The kind of environment I grew up in facilitated for me the perfect surroundings for learning through reading and writing – where I often used to grab a short story and head to the beach near our home for some one-on-one time with my favorite book.
What did you dream of becoming one day?
I have always dreamt of becoming an ambassador representing my nation globally – where I could leave an imprint of my own, and add value to my country, something that will make history and be talked about long after I am gone.
Was your family supportive of your dream?
My family has always been my main supporter in every step of my educational and career growth. They are in full support of my dream to represent my country, and are a tireless resource providing me with the advice and guidance I need. Being the contact point for the UNGC representing the United Arab Emirates globally is a step towards achieving my dream.
How was school life?
I enjoyed learning and reading while still in school, especially history and social studies. That’s how I learned about the history of my nation and the stages of development it has gone through, where we were and what we have become under a visionary leadership which, in turn, sparked in me the love for representing my country in a diplomatic role.
Describe how your career took shape.
During my university life, I was enthusiastic to get a taste of how it is to be a professional so I got involved in a number of volunteer roles like being the organizer for The World Energy Forum and The Government Summit, etc., where I had the chance to learn proper protocol and etiquette in receiving, addressing and representing political figures in events and conferences. My first job was the perfect first experience any fresh graduate can get since it enhanced my loyalty and dedication, and developed in me an attitude of selflessness when it comes to achieving work objectives.
Do you feel you are on the right track?
All the experiences I “collected” in my volunteering roles and working in my first job have played a major role in shaping up my skills and qualifying me to ultimately reach my dream.
How did you get involved with the UNGC?
After shifting careers and joining Dubai Real Estate Institute (DREI) at the Dubai Land Department (DLD), our CEO chose me to be the Local Contact Point of the UNGC UAE Network as he saw in me the potential and capabilities to represent the UAE in the organization. As this was in line with what I have always dreamed of becoming for my country, I did not hesitate at all. Quite the contrary, I was thrilled to be appointed and given this rare and wonderful opportunity.
What, exactly, is the UNGC UAE Network all about?
We are working on showcasing the United Arab Emirates as the leader in the Arab region in applying and working with the UNGC goals by engaging government agencies, private businesses, professionals and CEOs, and even university students and young graduates, to commit to and adhere to the mission of the UN Global Compact, that is, to promote sustainable business practices. As an Arab woman in the UAE, we are blessed to have farsighted leaders who realize that in order to sustain what is on the forefront, we need to capitalize on and harness the power and creativity of the youth and minorities like women. For example, in the latest 12th Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates, eight new ministers in the federal government – five of the new ministers are female with the youngest being a 22-year-old lady.
What is your assessment of local private sector response to the UNGC?
We have had an excellent response to UNGC initiatives and efforts which we believe can still be hugely developed through improved awareness and better knowledge sharing.
What do you envision UNGC to accomplish in the next five years?
I envision for the United Arab Emirates network to set the path for the rest of the Middle East and Gulf countries, to lead by example in forming their own local networks and possibly collaborate amongst themselves, and be empowered through efficient and impactful knowledge sharing.
Your message to young girls and young women struggling to find their identity and place in the world.
I believe that you are able to create your own identity and claim your own place in the world through your education, skills and passion to learn and grow. Above all, dare to dream!
About the writer
Claire Dangalan is a Filipina freelance feature writer (a.k.a. Lovely Claire Cachuela) and Features Editor Ananke, based in Dubai. She is a consummate lover of the arts, especially literature. She taught Cultural Anthropology, Sociology, Humanities and Literature back in the Philippines. Her interests, aside from writing, include the environment, health and fitness, culinary arts, social issues, studies on world view, and “unprofessional photography.”
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