Emirati woman train attendant breaks the traditional mould

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By Rayeesa Absal, Staff Reporter  www.gulfnews.com

Dubai: Years ago, the idea of an Emirati woman whizzing past the city driving a train would have seemed like the ponderings of an over-imaginative mind.

    *  Image Credit: Francois Nel /Gulf News     * Mariam Al Safar, the first Emirati woman train attendant, at work on the Dubai Metro. Her duties include train preparation prior to arrival and departure and maintaining security measures for passenger cabins.
* Image Credit: Francois Nel /Gulf News * Mariam Al Safar, the first Emirati woman train attendant, at work on the Dubai Metro. Her duties include train preparation prior to arrival and departure and maintaining security measures for passenger cabins.

But today, 28-year-old Mariam Al Safar has achieved this milestone of becoming the first Emirati woman to drive a train, not only in the UAE, but also in the Middle East.

Speaking to Gulf News while driving the Dubai Metro, Mariam proudly declared: “I am always open to challenges and I am not afraid to take risks.”

“I work hard and my job is my top priority,” she said.

Although the Dubai Metro is driverless and is operated from a centralised control room, maintenance works or technical glitches call for the need to drive the train manually.

To demonstrate her skills, Mariam began by opening what appears like a cabinet to reveal the controls of the train and by switching the train to manual mode.

She explained that preparations are essential before embarking on each trip, such as testing the radio devices, communicating the destination with the control room, and ensuring the route is clear.

Further, the brakes, horn and wipers are tested before a confirmation is passed to the control room that the train is now fully prepared for journey.

Dressed in the Metro uniform for Emirati women — an Abaya with designs that match with the prints on uniforms worn by expatriate employees — Mariam said that women in the UAE are constantly breaking free from stereotypes and experimenting beyond the routine nine-to-five jobs.

Safety and security

She currently holds the position of a train attendant at the Metro, and is also the team leader of her group.

Her duties include train preparation prior to arrival and departure, maintaining security measures for passenger cabins and boarding procedures, maintaining consistent customer service and reporting directly to the Metro Controller to ensure safety and security. It also includes preparing schedules for the trains and train attendants, managing the Metro attendants, and ensuring cleanliness on all Metro Cabins.

One of the requirements of her job that may seem difficult to some is the need to work in shifts, which sometimes begin as early as 3am or 4am, she said. But, this is not a challenge once you get used to it, she quickly added. More info