Filipino migrant workers, especially those working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have found a friend in a woman leader named the most powerful Arab women by Forbes Magazine.
Emirati royalty Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qaisimi has cited the excellent skills and the positive work attitude of Filipino migrant workers during an interview with journalists at the sidelines of the UAE 43rd National Day celebration.
Her remark defended Filipino workers from discriminatory comments, one of them, “a nation of slaves” tag on the Philippines.
“The negative perception about Philippine workers is not true. This is not about domestic help,” Sheikha Lubna told over 90 journalists who were invited for the 43rd National Day celebration.
“The truth is, Philippine engineers and drivers are the best,” she added.
UAE is virtually teeming with Filipinos who work in commercial establishments, residences, and construction sites. Recent data said there are more than 700,000 Filipinos here working as domestic helpers, drivers, hotel staff, waiters, engineers and manager posts.
Sheikha Lubna holds various key posts, among them as minister of the International Cooperation and Development and president of the Zayed University.
She is one of the most popular government officials here, known for her numerous achievements both in the public and private sectors.
100 MOST POWERFUL
Four years in a row, since 2011, Sheikha Lubna topped the Forbes Middle East list of 100 Most Powerful Arab Women. She is considered to represent the new face of professional woman in the Arab region.
Sheikha Lubna was featured in the Forbes Magazine’s list of the “World’s Most Powerful Women” and the Wall Street Journal’s 50 ‘International Women to Watch”.
Her positive perception of Filipino workers are based on personal dealings with Filipino workers here, especially in relation to her work in international cooperation and development, and most recently, in the UAE’s Committee on Humanitarian Aid.
When asked for a photo opportunity after the forum, Sheikha Lubna appeared to be delighted to find three Filipino journalists invited for the UAE National Day.
She surprised the Filipino journalists by saying “Maraming salamat po (Thank you so much),” revealing that she knows some Filipino words.
“I also know maganda (beautiful). You, you are maganda,” Sheika Lubna told one of the visiting female journalist.
Sheika Lubna said she has not been to the Philippines yet but mostly interacts with Filipinos working here.
“I learned those Filipino words from the cashiers. They always say that,” she told the Manila Bulletin in a brief interview while on the way to her next appointment.
Sheika Lubna revealed that the UAE is among the countries which sent donations to the victims of typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) last year. She said the $10 million donation is for the reconstruction of damaged houses and rebuilding of schools especially in the hardest hit areas.
The UAE leadership is now very aggressive in foreign aid development, already infusing some 16.3 billion dirhams from 2010 to 2012, a huge chunk of it is in Asia which represents 66.8 percent.
Sheikha Lubna holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from California State University and an Executive Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the American University of Sharjah.
She has co-authored two books dealing with Cyber Law and Cyber Security and e-commerce both in developing economies.
She holds four doctorate degrees in Humane Letters, Science, Laws and Economics.
Asked of the recognitions and awards which she values most, Sheikha Lubna said it is not the plaques or any international recognitions but the fact that she continuously enjoys the trust and confidence of the UAE leadership.