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Emirates Woman - - Cover Story/ Julia Restoin Roitfeld -

n as­so­ci­a­tion with Tryano and spon­sors Marina Home, the­out­net.com, Fabergé and Gem­fields, Skin O2, Palazzo Ver­sace Dubai, African & Eastern and Ja­cob­sons Di­rect Mar­ket­ing Ser­vices, around 400 guests gath­ered on Tues­day evening to cel­e­brate some of the most in­spi­ra­tional women liv­ing and work­ing in the Emi­rates to­day.

Among the re­gal pur­ple and gold dé­cor and glim­mer­ing crys­tal chan­de­liers of the Palazzo Ver­sace Dubai, an im­pec­ca­bly dressed crowd sipped on bub­bles and nib­bled dainty canapés be­fore the award-giv­ing kicked off. Whereas last year’s al­fresco event saw a lit­tle rain­fall, this time the only thing guests were dewy with were di­a­monds and well-placed high­lighter, while the Laura Ing­ham Jazz Trio got the party started with some soul­ful tunes.

The 26 nom­i­nees, each of whom are mak­ing a marked dif­fer­ence to the UAE and be­yond in the realms of art, busi­ness, phi­lan­thropy, en­ter­tain­ment and more, min­gled with guests be­fore BBC­trained jour­nal­ist Shah­naz Pakra­van be­gan the pro­ceed­ings.

Ad­dress­ing the 42 ta­bles fill­ing Palazzo Ver­sace’s ivory-rose-adorned ball­room, Shah­naz noted that this year was par­tic­u­larly spe­cial. Not only is it the 12th an­nual Emi­rates Woman, Woman of the Year awards, but it is also the mag­a­zine’s 35th birth­day.

“By my cal­cu­la­tion, that was 1981 – many of you were not even born then,” the ra­dio and news pre­sen­ter joked, be­fore pay­ing trib­ute to a glossy that be­gan life “way ahead of its time”. “And here to­day, it’s an in­sti­tu­tion unto it­self, still go­ing strong in a clut­tered and noisy mar­ket.” How­ever, we weren’t there to just cel­e­brate our three-and-a-half decades – as Shah­naz noted, we had con­gre­gated to ap­plaud “game-chang­ing vi­sion­ar­ies… en­er­gis­ing not just their com­mu­ni­ties and their in­dus­tries, but the coun­try and the re­gion”.

Be­fore the chic glass tro­phies were given out, Group Edi­tor Sophia Serin took to the stage to thank all the nom­i­nees for their in­cred­i­bly ded­i­cated, pas­sion­ate work.

“Emi­rates Woman‘ s vi­sion has al­ways been the same: to sup­port women in the re­gion no mat­ter their race, re­li­gion, or vo­ca­tion,” said Sophia, clad in a gown by Le­banese de­signer Elie Saab, be­fore wish­ing all the nom­i­nees the very best of luck.

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