January 28, 2015: She could have stayed a clerical worker in a convenient and well-furnished office environment, but Ayesha Hassan AbdulRahman Al Marzooqi chose differently. The 28-year old Emirati was looking for a new challenge and a hands-on position that was different from anything she had done before.

Today, Ayesha works at Abu Dhabi Ports' flagship Khalifa Port, the first semi-automated port in the GCC region and one of the most technologically advanced ports around the globe. But that's not all: the employee of Abu Dhabi Terminals (ADT), the manager and operator of Khalifa Port container terminal, is the first female quay crane operator in the UAE and controls one of the port's gigantic super-post-Panamax cranes.

Ayesha is a trainee and in the final phase of her training programme, which allows her to work independently on the port site.

"I watched a documentary about a female pilot in the UAE Air Force who truly inspired me. Before I started my training at Khalifa Port container terminal, I was given a tour of the port facilities and the ship-to-shore quay cranes really fascinated me. I felt this was my calling and I decided to become a crane operator", the young woman explains.

As soon as her parents approved her ambition, there was no holding back, and a few days later, Ayesha started her training programme at ADT. As a trainee she works in four-hour shifts from 8am until 4pm, five days a week.

UAE female crane operatorAyesha is one of 23 Emirati trainees, including four other women, who are currently taking part in the ADT training programme that is being conducted by ADT's internationally certified and experienced in-house instructors. The programme covers the different tasks and role functions at the container terminal.

"One of ADT's top strategic priorities has always been to train and develop Emiratis to join the fast growing ports industry. As a result of this, we have almost double the number of Emirati nationals within a year; ranging from senior and middle management to supervisory and practical roles", says Eisa Hassan Al Marzooqi, Senior HR Director, ADT.

"Our comprehensive on-the-job training for Emiratis started two years ago and we are immense proud that Ayesha Al Marzooqi joined ADT to become the first female Emirati crane operator", adds Al Marzouqi

In 2014, Abu Dhabi Ports made significant progress in creating sustainable employment opportunities for Emiratis and achieved an Emiratisation level of 44% across its total workforce. This rate is expected to rise to 47% in 2015.

To support the new jobs for UAE nationals, Abu Dhabi Ports has designed comprehensive training programmes across the full employment spectrum. The majority of these programmes are being taught at the company's state-of-the-art Maritime Training Center in Musaffah which complies with ISO quality criteria and has been certified by the Lloyd's Register (LR) group as an approved training provider.

In September 2014, Abu Dhabi Ports and ADT ran a full-day recruitment event which was organised with the Abu Dhabi Tawteen Council, the government employment agency for Emirati job seekers. Abu Dhabi Ports and ADT were looking to fill around 80 job openings in the field of port operations and invited UAE nationals to presentations and one-on-one meetings with industry professionals and members of the human resources department.

One of the many UAE nationals who attended the recruitment event was Ayesha. She took the chance to meet professionals and get insights into the maritime industry, one of the most important industries in the UAE and around the world. Today, the young woman's story is another success story in the country's Emiratisation process.

"I am very happy to be part of this exciting industry and grateful to be given so much support and assistance. By being the first female quay crane operator in the UAE, I hope I will inspire other Emiratis to follow their ambitions, take on challenges and serve their country", says Ayesha who will be finishing her training programme to become a certified quay crane operator in a few weeks' time, ahead of schedule.