by Villa 88
  • 2 minute read
  • January 04, 2020
Woman Of The Week: Her Excellency Sara Ibrahim Shuhail

Step inside Her Excellency Sara Ibrahim Shuhail’s office in Abu Dhabi and your heart will fill with reverence. Its passageway is laced with awards and accolades that HE Sara has garnered over the years for her efforts towards safeguarding victims of human trafficking, a culmination of which are the Ewaa Shelters that she founded in 2008. And then, there she is—the epitome of grace, wearing a traditional galabiya and the most riveting smile.

Her passion for humanitarianism shines through, as she continues to give a new lease of life to several women who have been rescued from traffickers. “Every time a victim leaves the shelter to start a new life, goes back to her family and friends, away from all the past bad experiences, and is grateful for what we were able to give her—that, for me, is a milestone,” she shares.

HE Sara was named the ‘Most Inspirational Arab Woman’ in 2012 by L’Officiel Arab Woman Awards, and ranked 61st in Arabian Business’ 2013 list of ‘100 Most Powerful Arab Women’. Having received an ‘Expert’ certificate from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, she has been a member of the sub-committee responsible for editing the UAE’s Federal Law No 51/2006, which marked the beginning of the
country’s official initiatives to combat human trafficking, both locally and globally.

“Ewaa Shelters have had a big impact on shaping my personality,” says HE Sara, who continues to be the victims’ voice on platforms, such as the Higher Committee for Child Protection at the Ministry of Interior, and the National Committee to combat Human Trafficking, amongst others.

At the shelter, a festive spirit ensues; women of different nationalities rejoice and create artworks and handicrafts, which the organization curates and showcases once a year at an exhibition called ‘Silent Voices’. Having worked so closely with survivors, HE Sara notes that no amount of training could ever be enough to prepare one for grasping their heart-wrenching stories. “No matter how much knowledge you get from different channels, real, day-to-day involvement with the victims, listening to their stories and understanding their feelings will give you different insight into
humanitarian causes.”

In a career that has spanned nearly 42 years, HE Sara has also served as an educator and headmistress, raising many future leaders. Amid all this, she’s a doting mother of six, and a grandmother. And among her greatest moments of pride is when her daughter, Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, became the UAE’s Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs. “It was an indescribable feeling, full of pride, that
crowned me,” she shares.

HE Sara’s greatest inspirations include Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak. And she leaves us with HH Sheikha Fatima’s powerful words, “The greatness of nations is manifested not only in its economic and materialistic achievements, but also in its social and humanitarian gains that guarantee dignity and legitimate rights for human beings.”

Visit and @EwaaShelters; Photography by Aasiya Jagadeesh

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