Celebrating Emirati Women's Day 2023: In Conversation with Alia Al Khafajy
In celebration of Emirati Women's Day 2023, inspiring Emirati entrepreneur Alia Al Khafajy tells us her story and what being an Emirati means to her.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m the CEO of ALKHAFAJY TRADING LLC - which is our family owned business. And I also have a distribution company for conscious clean beauty, wellness and lifestyle brands named OKTA where we distribute premium and luxe conscious beauty, wellness and lifestyle brands across the GCC.
2. What inspired you to start your own business?
I have always known that I would eventually follow into my father’s footsteps and start my own business. I did have to go the course of life, with all its changes, trials and errors, and learnings in order for me to get to where I am today, however doing my own thing has always been there with me from the very start.
3. What are some of the key challenges you faced as a female entrepreneur, and how did you overcome them?
I wouldn’t necessarily specify my work challenges and obstacles to the fact that I am a female, as I believe many of the challenges would be ones faced overall by many new businesses and entrepreneurs. That being said, I do believe unfortunately, that for the majority of the interactions conducted on a day-to-day such as negotiations, decisions, communications, etc there is a need to embody a lot more of a masculine energy and adopt more masculine assertiveness, because I am a women and a female.
4. In your experience, what are some of the unique strengths and qualities that women bring to the business world?
I believe that women have a unique way of seeing matters from a different perspective. We tend to have a more holistic and harmonized approach when leading a company and it’s vision, seeing things as a whole with the bigger picture in mind. We inertly lead in a matriarchal way, and that is a great strength to have.
5. What does it mean to you to be an Emirati woman in these current times?
I think we are going through monumental times for us as Emirati women. Women have been breaking records tapping into new fields and industries across all sectors. We have Emirati women as educators, doctors, scientists, physicists, philanthropists, ministers, diplomats, lawyers, board members, designers, engineers, artists and the list goes on. Yet, all of these career goals and advancements has not taken away from our roles as being being wives, mothers, daughters, sisters. Being Emirati allows us and provides us the support to be both.
6. What are your predictions for the future direction of Emirati women in the country and the region as a whole?
I think Emirati women will continue to make positive changes to our society as a whole. I think we will be seeing advancements in many fields of entrepreneurship, science and medicine, and in the arts. I also believe that there will be more legislative input from Emirati women domestically, and perhaps even regionally and globally.
7. What message would you like to give to Emirati women on this special day, and what do you hope for their future?
I’d like to say that it is truly a great honor and blessing to be an Emirati woman, yesterday, today and for the future to come. We have a beautiful culture that is a key element of who we are and how far we’ve come. We can only continue to grow further for as long as we remain true to our identity and soul of being an Emirati.