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A Grandmother’s Encouragement Helps Launch Engineer’s Career

At university, Reem Alghumlasi was one of only three women in her aeronautical engineering class. She and her two peers supported each other right through to graduation. But even before reaching university, Reem credits her first successes to the support of her grandmother.

“She would always push me forward, encourage me to continue my studies, and never consider giving up. This was because when it was her time, she didn’t have the chance to do what I was doing, and she told me about that. She made me very aware of the opportunities I had.

“She told me, ‘You are privileged to be young at this time.’ Back when she was young, it was much more difficult for women to pursue careers and schooling. Nowadays, the UAE is very supportive of women and is doing so many things to support women in different fields, especially STEM fields. Times have changed and she always encouraged me to make the most of it.”

Reem entered university planning to study electrical engineering but found she didn’t like the field. It was a friend’s suggestion that turned her attention to aviation, and she developed a true passion for it.

“At that time, I wasn’t seeing many people going into aviation. That was encouraging to me, to study something different, because I like to be unique,” she said.

She participated in hands-on training as part of her university program, and at one airline, she met a female Emirati maintenance engineer who described how challenging it was, at that time, to be the only woman on the shop floor. She felt she had something to prove.

She also described how difficult it was to have no female colleagues to talk with and how painful it was to say goodbye to her children every morning. But she continued to pursue it because aviation was truly a passion.

Reem took inspiration from this and deepened her studies in the aviation sector, which is a key driver of economic growth and development in the UAE.

After graduating from the Emirates Aviation University, she joined GE Aerospace as an Early Career Trainee, before transitioning to a full-time employee in her current role as a Customer Project Engineer at the Middle East Aviation Technology Center (MTC) in Dubai.

Although she’s the only Emirati woman at MTC, GE Aerospace’s culture of diversity and inclusion makes her feel right at home. “This is a very welcoming community. I sometimes even ‘forget’ that I’m an Emirati woman. Nobody cares where you are from; we all just talk to each other and work together as colleagues and friends.”