If you walk or drive on the streets of the bustling Gulf city of Dubai, you will see policewomen riding motorbikes – an uncommon scene in the mostly conservative Arab region.
The 18 members of the Dubai Policewomen Special Guard Unit, a police service launched earlier this year, are on duty to protect businesswomen, dignitaries and female members of the ruling family.
The job was long reserved for men in Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.
Eman Salem, who has worked in the police for 20 years, says the job gives her the chance to handle tough situations.
“Every day, I feel more attached to my job and more determined to perform my duties perfectly,” she said.
“It is hard to work in our field, as it requires us to enhance our abilities and maintain our fitness in order to have quick responses to different situations and emergencies,” she explained.
These situations include handling hostage-taking and abductions, so it comes as no surprise that Salem and her colleagues have mastered different weapons, trained in martial arts, and learned to jump from moving cars and scale down high buildings.
The unit’s members have attended courses in shooting and fitness at the Police Academy in Dubai.
“Our assignments and regular training have helped me overcome my fears and gain all skills necessary to handle hardships,” Aisha Obeid said.
“Some people may never imagine the extent of training we receive and the amount of effort we exert to be ready for any mission,” Obeid, who joined the police more than 11 years ago, added.
Obeid and her workmates are aware that the demanding job takes a toll on their family life.
“Although I miss many family occasions due to my working for 12 hours a day, the pride I see in my family’s eyes and their respect for my job encourage me and make me more determined to do my best in order to succeed in my work,” Zahra Ibrahim, a member of the unit, said.
“Working in this field constitutes a big challenge for the woman, especially when she has a family and children,” she added.
“I have been able to make a balance between caring for my family and undertaking daily assignments of my job that include tough training under high temperatures.”
Roqaya Ahmed, Ibrahim’s colleague, agrees.
“The woman in Emirates has joined all fields that were previously a monopoly of men,” Ahmed said.
“Society no longer frowns upon women who drive motorbikes or do jobs that were once confined to men.”
Jamila Rashed, who joined the Dubai police force four years ago, said that working as a policewoman has boosted her self-confidence and sense of discipline.
“The toughest thing for the Emirati woman is when she walks into a field that was long a monopoly of men,” Rashed said, adding that society tends to have a negative perception of women driving motorbikes and working as bodyguards.
“This negative view initially haunted some of us, but it soon faded away. Society now accepts and appreciates women’s role in all walks of life.”(dpa/NAN)