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The exhibition was curated by Dr Reem Tariq El Mutwalli  who was inspired by the UAE founding father’s statement:


"He who does not know his past  

cannot make the best  

of his present and future,  

for it is from the past that we learn." 


  - Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan 


The garments on display hail from across all seven emirates. They are part of a collection of dresses from the Zay Collection worn by twenty trailblazing Emirati women photographed against the backdrop of her current field of work, showcasing her achievements.


The exhibition celebrates the UAE’s 50th anniversary and showcases UAE women achieving excellence across many disciplines, remembering the past whilst looking to the future. This exhibition reaffirms that the equality and empowerment of women do not look the same across the board and can be anchored in the cultural heritage and traditions that uphold her.  


All of the photographs and detailed historical  information about the dresses can be found at


The Zay Initiative’s focus is to advance the preservation of Arab cultural heritage through the collection, documentation, and digital archiving of Arab historical attire and their stories. Their goal is to empower and sustain global cross-cultural dialogue to inspire creative minds. They do this with regular webinars, weekly articles, and touring exhibitions.