My UAE: Staying on track with Emirati engineer Khuloud Al Mazrouei

Khuloud Al Mazrouei spends her work days surrounded by her “brothers” – whether it’s out in the field or in the office. She does this as the only female engineer at Etihad Rail, and while that might seem daunting for some, for the mother of two, it’s a privilege and an opportunity for which she’s […]

Khuloud Al Mazrouei spends her work days surrounded by her “brothers” – whether it’s out in the field or in the office. She does this as the only female engineer at Etihad Rail, and while that might seem daunting for some, for the mother of two, it’s a privilege and an opportunity for which she’s grateful.

“I’m proud of myself and I feel it’s really a good chance that ­Etihad Rail gave me this position. I am here, alone, surrounded by fabulous colleagues and my manager who support me and give me a chance to be the woman among this team and a part of such a unique project,” she says. “It’s my time to illuminate myself and give a chance to all other women to enjoy this company and other companies that you can see yourself in.”

Etihad Rail was established in 2009 to manage the development, construction and operation of the UAE’s national freight and passenger railway network.

Al Mazrouei grew up in Sharjah and is the youngest of seven children. She’s not the only success story in her family, something she attributes to her mother, who was widowed when Al ­Mazrouei was young.

“My father died when I was 1 year old, and my mum was a single mother and she took care of us; she worked hard,” she says. “My mum was not educated, and she wanted all of her kids to be at a high level and educated.”

After consultation with her mother, Al Mazrouei decided to target a career in engineering. “It was my mother’s dream – she wanted me to be an engineer, but didn’t tell me which field. ­Maybe she was thinking an architect or something familiar. When I chose this, she asked why, and I said it’s a field engineer and that’s what I want to be. She supported my decision and now is proud of my work.”

Al Mazrouei studied civil engineering at UAE University’s ­College of Engineering. Shortly after graduating in 2002, she began work at the Ministry of ­Public Works. Five years later, after being promoted to head the project planning division, she took the role of senior planning manager in the civil development ­department.

In 2012, Al Mazrouei joined Etihad Rail as assistant structure manager, projects, a job that requires a daily commute to Abu Dhabi. The team has completed the first of its three-stage project, which is part of the UAE’s vision for 2021 and Abu Dhabi’s 2030 economic vision.

“From the beginning, I didn’t believe I would see the train and track in this area, but now, in the city you see [the rail presence] everywhere; if you go to the western region, you see it everywhere – left, right, you see the track.”

Al Mazrouei’s passion for the UAE and its future also extends to politics – one day, she hopes to join the Federal National ­Council. She also strives to represent her female compatriots. “I’d want to be an adviser for the Mother of the UAE [Sheikha ­Fatima bint Mubarak] to support all the women of this country.”

What is your favourite food and why?

Italian. I just love pasta and everything about Italian food. Alfredo is my favourite.

What’s your favourite travel destination?

I love London. Everything there is what you want – if you want people, you want shopping, it is all there. I dream to travel around the world to see all the Seven Wonders of the World. I have seen the Pyramids, Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower. Now I want to go to China, the United States and Rio de Janeiro.

What’s your favourite place to visit in Dubai?

JBR – I love the place. And City Walk.

What four things do you never leave home without?

Cold water, my phone, my wedding ring and a smile.

What‘s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

The Minister of Infrastructure and Development, Dr Abdullah bin Mohammed Belhaif Al Nuaimi, told me you are a star and you will be a star, keep working.

What’s your favourite movie?

I think that maybe it’s because I have small children, but I love Kung Fu Panda – he has a big challenge in his life.

What car do you drive?

I drive a BMW 7 series. She’s with me on the weekends, because I can’t drive her during the week.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love the stitching and tailoring, with my mum. I give her some of my time because she taught us.

Tell us something that most people wouldn’t know about you.

I am collecting the caps off water bottles, for about three weeks or so now, and I have jars full at the moment. It is for charity, something my mum is doing for recycling and to raise funds.

mhealy@thenational.ae

Source: art & life

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