Ameera Amir - Always 'With You'


Ameera Amir
Founder @Weyakum
Social Entrepreneur
President Columbia Alumni Association UAE

 

An avid supporter of women and youth empowerment, sustainable development, tech4good and peace, Ameera is a Social Entrepreneur who embodies every quality a high achiever with high standards would dream to achieve.

Ameera is the founder of Weyakum, which means “With You” in Arabic, a non-profit social enterprise that equips United Arab Emirates youth and young professionals with the skills necessary to realize their educational and professional aspirations.  Her experience includes working on Wall Street, at Columbia University, the United Nations as well as the Abu Dhabi Government, where she currently serves. Ameera holds a Masters in International Affairs with a concentration in Sustainable Economic Development from Columbia University in New York. She currently serves as the President of the Columbia Alumni Association of the United Arab Emirates.

Tell us about your journey and how you got here today?

I believe that the environment in which a person grows up plays a crucial role in their life as an adult; the country I was raised in and the opportunities I was given through schooling as well as my family are what brought me to where I am today.

My father played a very big role in my life.  From a young age, he instilled within me what he rightfully believed to be life’s most precious values, honesty, morality, loyalty, compassion and generosity. These core values have defined happiness and success in my life and I have applied them to both the personal and professional aspects of my life.  He also genuinely believed in the power of education. As such, he supported me in realizing my dream of attending Columbia University.

So I would say a supportive family, education and guiding principles have all played a crucial role in enabling me to achieve what I define as success; it is important to measure success according to our own capabilities and not compare ourselves to others.

How did the idea of Weyakum come about? What inspired you to start a youth organization?

While I was pursuing my master’s degree in International Affairs at Columbia University in New York, I had the pleasure of interacting with students from all over the world that were very passionate about sustainable economic development and inclusive growth. One topic that repeatedly came up was the importance of investing in youth and how coordinated actions are needed between private citizens, institutions and governments in order to be able to create a stronger impact.

I had seen first hand through the example of the United Arab Emirates how the quality of higher education was a crucial determinant of a country’s capacity for economic development. So considering this and my views on the importance of education, I wanted to contribute to the progress of the United Arab Emirates in this aspect. And so my journey led me back to that very first lesson my father taught me about the importance of education and I founded Weyakum.  

Weyakum, meaning ‘with you’ in Arabic, is a non-profit social enterprise with a mission to equip Emiratis (United Arab Emirates Nationals) with the skills necessary to succeed in realizing their educational and professional aspirations. It was inspired by Sheikh Zayed’s quote “A country’s greatest investment lies in building generations of educated and knowledgeable youth”.

At Weyakum, we explore and identify the interests and aspirations of Emiratis at the university level all the way through to young professionals. Whether it is helping them set up their social enterprise, join the United Nations or pursue a degree at a top notch academic institution, we offer our full support in realizing their professional aspirations. Our vision is concurrent with the “United Arab Emirates Vision 2021”; “We want all Emiratis to make a valuable contribution to their nation’s growth by building their knowledge and applying their talent with innovation and drive.”

What are some inspiring words you would like to share with youth today?

Take all the time you need to make your decision in choosing your path. However, once you’ve made your choice, then you need to ignore the noise and just power through. Things will eventually become easier with focus and persistence. It’s important to remain humble throughout your journey, and to never lose hope.

Why is the United Arab Emirates a great place for women leaders to succeed?

My vision for the future of women is very much inspired by what I see in the United Arab Emirates today. A lot of transformation has taken place in the United Arab Emirates over the last few decades. In this short period of time, we’ve achieved a society where women participate meaningfully in all aspects of life; we have women who are fighter pilots, ministers, social entrepreneurs, ambassadors, doctors, teachers, lawyers, artists, engineers, scientists etc.  

This tangible progress is the result of the policies, laws and regulations that the Government of the United Arab Emirates has set and continues to do so in order to ensure that the environment is conducive to the growth of women. For instance, the United Arab Emirates is one of the few countries in the world where, by law, women enjoy equal pay. Also, the Government established the United Arab Emirates Gender Balance Council to further promote equality and opportunities for women in the workforce. This is why I believe the United Arab Emirates is indeed a great place for women leaders to thrive.

In the words of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of Dubai, “We have moved beyond the phase of empowering women. Indeed, we are empowering society through women.”

What brings you joy?

Happiness to me is living in a country that provides me with the opportunity to achieve my dreams and aspirations while feeling safe and secure at all times. There is no doubt that I am grateful to live in a nation that promotes tolerance, generosity, education and compassion to say the least. With over 200 different nationalities in the United Arab Emirates, I get to live in a multicultural society where different religions, cultures, ethnicities and languages are celebrated.  I only wonder what more I could possibly wish for to bring me joy!

 

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