Mariam al-Safar has become the first woman to drive the Metro in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) as well as the Middle East.
Only 28 years old, Safar, a Dubai Metro Passenger Services Supervisor has changed people’s perspective towards Middle Eastern women with her occupation and expertise.
Dubai’s metro system is currently the most highly developed in the world with its automated system but drivers are still on board to handle any emergencies.
Safar is one such qualified driver and one of the rare locals responsible for driving the metro.
“She is the first local to drive. She was the only train attendant (when) we had a local. She is very hard working. She works early to come to work. She does night shifts, and she is everywhere,” said Faith Mutune, Mariam al-Safar’s colleague.
In the UAE it is common for a foreigner to be hired for jobs in this field. However with up to 80 percent of the UAE’s population being mostly expats the government has created policies to increase local participation in various fields, including metro operation and management in a bid to decrease dependence on foreign workers.
“The government is always pushing women to be leaders of the future, so they are encouraging women to enter different fields,” said Safar.
Presently over 130 locals are employed at the Dubai metro systems, making up 12 percent of all metro management personnel. An estimated 40 percent of UAE citizens work in high-level official positions and 28 percent in middle-level management position.
An agreement made between Dubai Metro Operation and Management Corporation and Dubai Roads and Traffic Administration, will see 50 to 60 percent of UAE nationals in high rank positions at the Dubai metro systems.