Caption: (L-R), NADA ELEMAM, HADIA HANAN, KHADIJE HAMAD, and LAMA AL KHARBOUSH
Let’s find out how leading architectural firm AEDAS promotes gender equality, diversity, and inclusion at all levels of the organisation as we celebrate International Women’s Day in March.
Aedas is one of the world’s most prestigious architecture and design firms. As much as it focusses on designing bespoke buildings and realising design concepts, Aedas values gender equality at all levels of the organisation, making it one of the largest architecture firms worldwide with a friendly and multinational working environment. Aedas is dedicated to providing a supportive environment for women in the architecture field as a company that values gender equality, diversity, and inclusion. The firm provides training and apprenticeship programmes to help women architects advance in their careers, as well as the necessary support when needed. Aedas also ensures that promotions and career opportunities are transparent and objective. Aedas highlights four incredible young women from Aedas’ Dubai office and their inspiring stories of professional development and success. Aedas is overjoyed to be able to showcase these young local talents and celebrate International Women’s Day with their achievements.
Khadije Hamad, is a Lebanese architect who utilised her career to overcome traditional cultural beliefs and achieve independence. In 2015, she graduated from the University of Sharjah with a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering and began looking for internships. She began her career as an architectural intern at Aedas Dubai, where she received invaluable mentoring and support. As an Arab Hijabi architect in an international firm, Khadije was encouraged and given opportunities to develop her character and confidence, eventually rising to the position of senior associate in just six years. As a senior associate at Aedas Dubai, Khadije has taken on leadership roles and has become an inspiration to many of the firm’s young architects. Throughout her career, Khadije has observed that women opinions are not fully reflected in workplaces. Thus, she is eager to strike a balance between family and career. In recognition of her achievements, Design Middle East awarded her the Young Talent of the Year award in 2021. “I want to demonstrate that balancing family and career is possible for women like me and be a role model for young talents to pursue any career they desire.”— Khadije Hamad.
Another inspiring female architect at Aedas Dubai who has shown that perseverance pays off is Lama Al-Kharboush, a Saudi citizen who pursued her passion for architecture by obtaining a degree from the American University in Dubai. “I am inspired by the vision of HRH King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and HRH Mohammad Bin Salman Al-Saud, which promotes Saudi women as an important part of the Kingdom’s strength and provides us with the right opportunities to build our futures and contribute to the development of society,” says Lama Al-Kharboush. Despite the challenges of being a Saudi woman working abroad, Lama started her career in Dubai as an architectural intern and prioritises building positive relationships with her colleagues, managers, and clients. Sharing Lama’s strong belief, Aedas has created a healthy work environment and empowered all team members by giving them full responsibilities for assigned tasks. Within Aedas Dubai, Lama had the opportunity to lead key projects and showcase her skills, becoming an Associate in no time. To further emphasise equality and inclusion, she encourages young women to take pride in advancing their careers and demonstrate their ability to take on challenging roles within society.
After graduating from the American University in Cairo, as Summa Cum Laude, Nada Elemam joined Aedas Dubai as an Architectural Intern where she was fortunate to work under supportive leadership that helped her hone her skills and grow her potential.
Nada has started to develop her career at Aedas, and says, “At Aedas, they are flexible and understand that sometimes employees may need to work remotely”. As a young woman architect who was born in Alexandria and grew up hearing comments about how a woman’s education and career are less important than marriage and starting a family. She finds Aedas a company that has helped her balance her personal skills. “Aedas trains and equips my professional responsibilities, and I hope other women can receive the same advantage.” Nada’s desire is to become a great leader in the industry. Being an Associate of Aedas, Nada is capable of leading major projects in the region and managing a large design team. Clients may expect men to lead the project, which is one of the challenges of being a women Arab architect in the Middle East. Nada views this as a challenge and goes above and beyond to demonstrate her competence. Enjoying independence to communicate with clients, she encourages all women to take advantage of every opportunity to grow and support one another.
Hadia Hanan, an Afghan-American architect who moved to the UAE to study architecture at the American University of Sharjah, faced self-doubt and a desire to prove herself after a counsellor’s comment about the difficulty of a woman graduating and pursuing a career in architecture stuck with her. Her perseverance paid off, and she graduated in 2018 with the Dean’s Award, which is given to the highest graduating student from the College of Architecture each year.
Hadia says: “I’ve learned that selfdoubt and fear can be turned into a source of strength. It has given me a sense of humility and the motivation to constantly work hard.” She began her career as an architectural intern at Aedas Dubai and was promoted to Associate within three years. Hadia considers herself fortunate to work for a company that recognises and rewards hard work and talent. Working with Aedas has taught her to take more initiative, embrace her differences, and develop greater resilience in the face of challenges. One of the most empowering things she has taught herself is to find success in the small moments rather than the big ones.
Finally, the determination and hard work of these young women architects have shined through and led them onto a path they desired, their inspiring stories also demonstrates that successful careers are possible. Aedas values diversity, inclusion, and teamwork and prioritises creating a healthy work environment where employees can thrive and achieve their goals. By promoting these values, the company not only helps its employees succeed, but it also creates role models for future generations. They all emphasised the importance of Aedas Dubai’s Global Design Principal, Ignacio Gomez, and how he was instrumental in mentoring these women. They appreciate his and Aedas’ advice and assistance. By working together towards a common goal, we can make a positive impact and improve the future.