The UAE marks August 28th of each year as Emirati Women’s Day. This year is the fifth edition of the annual celebration, with activities held under the theme ‘Women, Icons of Tolerance’. Women have played an important role in the development and transformation of the country, and many have been trailblazers in different fields. In fact, the date was chosen to coincide with the establishment of the UAE’s General Women’s Union in 1975.

Over the years, many of these iconic women have graced the pages of Friday Magazine. Commemorating Emirati Women’s Day, here are some of these women pioneers in the world of arts, sports and other fields – Emirati icons who have served as inspirations for youngsters in the UAE and worldwide.

Yasmin Baker, the first Emirati aerialist

Suspended mid-air, tangled in fabrics, is how the Dubai-based aerial silk instructor overcame her acrophobia.

Alia Al Neyadi, the first Emirati ballerina

Promoting the performing arts and making ballet accessible is the young dancer’s dream.

Noura Al Noman, Emirati sci-fi author

The onus of creating change in the quality and volume of Arabic science-fiction depends on the bravery of the publishers, says the UAE’s first published science-fiction author.

Nada Al Bedwawi, UAE’s first female Olympic swimmer

Growing up Nada played a wide variety of sports, including football, basketball and tennis, but realised swimming was her true passion when she was 12.

Nujoom Al Ghanem: poet, artist, innovator of Emirati cinema

A veritable triple threat in the arts, Nujoom Al Ghanem tells about displacement, the special role films play in dismantling walls, and the power of language.

Amna Al Merri – she boxes, runs, lifts weights and loves a sweaty workout

The 24-year-old cofounded the UAE’s first women-only running club and is a trained biomedical engineer to boot.