Lady Liz Riesenburg: Today’s Renaissance woman

Interview by Claire Dangalan You might remember her as that young lady who kayaked for 25 kilometers around the Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina with fellow British expat Julia...
Interview by Claire Dangalan

LAdyYou might remember her as that young lady who kayaked for 25 kilometers around the Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina with fellow British expat Julia Cafferkey to raise funds for Lara’s Foundation back in 2012. And if you’re a tennis enthusiast, you’ve probably heard that Lady Elizabeth Riesenburg, Lady Liz for short, is also one of the founding members of “ACE IT” alongside Ayesha Al Fahim and Shaikha Al Zaabi, and working to promote women’s tennis in the UAE. Lady Liz is also an active supporter of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC).

A full-time lawyer specializing in the fields of corporate law, arbitration, construction and real estate, Lady Liz has made a career out of being the ultimate Renaissance woman – actively carving out a niche in diverse life interests involving the legal scene, sports and charity work.

Ananke had the privilege to speak to her, and ask a few questions about her interesting life.

What did you want to be when you were little? 

Due to my passion and love for sports, tennis in particular which I used to actively compete in at a young age, as a child, I aspired to be a professional tennis player.

How did you end up becoming a lawyer?

As a young teen, I first interned with a law firm attending trials in the UK Courts at which point I developed an interest for law. Whilst going through law school, at the young age of 19, I then interned in the US at a public defender’s office working in the Felonies Unit, pleading cases at state level which made me realize there and then that I wanted to be a lawyer, defend people’s rights and make a difference in people’s lives for the better. The following year, I returned to the US for further experience working on the death penalty and other cases. My early experience in the US legal sector led me towards the path of practicing as a criminal lawyer there, which suddenly came to an end as I was unexpectedly summoned as a young 22-year-old law graduate (due to  my knowledge of both the English and French Legal systems) to work on a very high-profile large construction/power plant trial concerning the construction of a power plant in Guadalajara, Mexico between two high-profile French parties – a case which came before the High Court in London. Thereon, I developed a passion for construction law and kept to civil litigation, construction and corporate law. I graduated in UK, French and American law, having practiced in those jurisdictions. In the UAE, I have practiced local law for several years specializing in real estate, corporate law, construction and arbitration.


I would give women HOPE, as hope would fortify each woman and help them push their way and gain access to education, opportunities and success in life. Hope is the basis of all these things so women would gain the strength and determination to achieve their dreams. 


Why the UAE?

On a professional level, the leading, fascinating world-class infrastructure, construction and real estate projects being developed in Dubai and the UAE, which, in my opinion, are second to none, give me an exceptional drive and sense of excitement and fulfillment on a professional level when working on such projects here.

On a personal level, my best friend is an Emirati, my closest and dearest friends who continuously inspire me are my truly admirable Emirati lady friends. They are strong, extremely intelligent, classy and successful women with hearts of gold. Should you ask them, they would tell you that I am Emirati at heart; this explains perfectly why Dubai and the UAE are for me, and it is one of the most beautiful and safest places in the world, providing us with unique opportunities, safety, world-class surroundings, exquisite leisurely resorts and more. To me, this list is non-exhaustive. Simply put, for me, Dubai and the UAE have so much more to offer than any other place in the world. They hold a special place in my heart which my closest Emirati friends and colleagues shape on a daily basis, and as such, it is truly my home.

Aside from your career in law, what other endeavors are you engaged in?

I have always actively promoted sports, previously managed tennis professionals, and in the UAE, organized a tennis event to grant access to the sport to Emirati ladies for the benefit of a local charity that I strongly admire known as the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children. The empowerment of women through sports is a theme close to my heart which I am always eager to promote as, in my personal experience, it also makes women stronger in the corporate world. Together with my Emirati best friend, who is one of the UAE’s best tennis players, we share the same passion and vision for sports and promoted paddle tennis together most recently. I am also involved with e7, another non-profit organization founded by another friend of mine, which serves the purpose of helping young women from the ages of 18 to 26 across all seven emirates in providing access to education, awareness on various topics and opportunities available to them. I act as one of the mentors to a lovely young lady who recently graduated in law looking to penetrate the practice of law in the UAE.  I guide her through my experiences, and try to inspire her the way best I can.

DSC_9145 copyHow important is sports in empowering women?

Personally for me, sports (aside from the law) is what makes me tick, work better, become more creative, reenergized and feel good about myself. Competing in tennis at a young age gave me the skills, strength and confidence at a very early stage in life and which I was able to use throughout my professional career. When reading for my master in law at the American Law School, I recall reading a book in the law library on the required skills to make good litigators. The statement that struck me and I remember to this day was one which stated that the best litigators are sports men or women, and having already interned as a teen in the US criminal courts, I could completely relate to that statement. Through a sport like tennis, one learns to strategize, to think quickly, to be strong both mentally and physically, to be confident, competitive and thrive on pressure and success – all of those skills make a good litigator, and they certainly made me a strong litigator and good lawyer. Thriving on pressure and being strong mentally and physically are key skills any woman needs to develop in order to succeed in her endeavors.

What is your view on women’s role in the UAE?

I feel there are great initiatives in the UAE that empower women supported by our most esteemed honorable leaders. The Dubai Women Establishment, for instance, is an institution dedicated to empower Emirati women, and regularly holds initiatives and programs dedicated to that purpose. I feel both Emirati and expat ladies have a bright future here, and will keep rising and shining due to the opportunities available, and rising confidence in women’s leadership. The UAE has already set a great example to neighboring countries on the empowerment of women. We have inspiring female leaders, ministers, exceptionally talented and dedicated Emirati ladies sitting at the National Federal Council, or in leading positions in both the government and private sectors, with many more to come.

If you could do one big thing instantly to help women all over the world, right now, what would it be?

I would give women HOPE, as hope would fortify each woman and help them push their way and gain access to education, opportunities and success in life. Hope is the basis of all these things so women would gain the strength and determination to achieve their dreams.

Words of wisdom you wish to share.

Work hard and with determination to climb up the ladder of success. Whenever you are knocked down a few steps, persevere, get back up and climb those steps even faster! In sum, follow your dreams with passion, never give up and fight hard to achieve them.

About the writer

Claire Dangalan is a Filipina freelance feature writer (a.k.a. Lovely Claire Cachuela) 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.”

To connect or read more from Claire:

Blog: Faeriequeenbuknoy

Blog: Enthymememy

Facebook: Reduce your CO2 footprint

Twitter: Alice Red Queen

Twitter: Red CO2 Footprint

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