At the helm of the Gulf region’s most high-profile aviation projects, and as the first female Emirati aircraft engineer, Dr Eng Suaad Al Shamsi is unshakable in her advice to other young women aspiring to make strides in male-dominated industries: “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”
Studying her true passion – aviation engineering
Suaad fell in love with planes as a child, but was pushed into a different direction when she moved into higher education. She saw no other option than to drop out of university, against her family’s wishes, and start working as a mechanic. Repairing cars, while unconventional for a young woman in her community, was more in line with her love of motorised vehicles.
In a turn of events that some might call destiny, Suaad’s connections in the automotive industry led her to a scholarship opportunity, which allowed her to finally study her true passion – aviation engineering.
Today, as part of various initiatives, Suaad empowers young women and girls to follow their career dreams, no matter how unconventional they seem to be. She firmly believes that Emirati women must hold on to their passions, even as they step into family life, and that tradition and success go hand-in-hand.
Alongside her demanding work, Suaad is raising two boys and still finds time for hobbies. Her paintings, depicting Emirati culture in bold and bright colours, have made their way onto the esteemed walls of the Louvre in Paris. But it is her love of engines and, most crucially, speed that invigorates her. The proud owner of a Porsche 911, Suaad views her sportscar as a welcome escape from her daily routine, and as an enduring symbol of her achievements.
The little girl who once sat on the grass in her mother’s backyard, counting the planes flying far overhead, reaching for her brother’s toy cars, now holds the strength of 400 horsepower in the palm of her hands—just enough to propel others to follow in her tracks.