HomeMiddle EastUkraine first lady Olena Zelenska in UAE amid Russia’s war

Ukraine first lady Olena Zelenska in UAE amid Russia’s war

Ukraine first lady Olena Zelenska in UAE amid Russia’s war

Diplomat Times (ABU DHABI)- Ukraine’s first lady on Wednesday offered spirited support to her nation’s people while visiting the United Arab Emirates, a country that still remains open to Russia despite Western sanctions.

Olena Zelenska described her role and that of other first ladies and gentlemen in the world as a real power while speaking before a packed ballroom on International Women’s Day. She also applauded the work of the average Ukrainian amid the ongoing war.

“We are a force and we can continue to change the world,” Zelenska said at the Forbes 30/50 Summit via a translator.

Zelenska’s trip to the United Arab Emirates capital comes as the UAE remains one of the few direct routes out of Moscow — for both people fleeing conscription and for the wealthy who want to park their money in a nation with access to Western financial markets.

Already, the U.S. Treasury has expressed concerns with the Russian money flowing into Dubai’s red-hot real estate market. Meanwhile, the superyachts of Russian oligarchs also have repeatedly turned up in the Emirates since the start of Moscow’s war on Ukraine last year.

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Zelenska arrived in the UAE on Tuesday and met with Sheikh Mohammed at Qasr al-Bahar in Abu Dhabi, the country’s capital. There, Sheikh Mohammed pledged $4 million to Zelenska’s foundation that will go toward the construction of orphanages, the Emirates’ state-run WAM news agency reported.

“Sheikh Mohammed reiterated the UAE’s commitment to the people of Ukraine through ongoing humanitarian aid, while stressing the importance of international and regional efforts aimed at reaching a political solution to re-establish security, stability and peace,” WAM said.

Zelenska has taken a more prominent role in promoting Ukraine since the war began. She met with U.S. first lady Jill Biden when the American president’s wife made a surprise, quick visit to Ukraine from Slovakia in May. She’s also traveled across the world, met leaders and told the United Nations in February: “We have the right to live free, not to be killed or tortured.”

Speaking before the crowd, Zelenska recounted the story of a schoolteacher still leading her students via a video call from a snowy street, even though power and internet connections remain shaky in the country. She also brought up a 30-year-old female combat medic killed in the fighting near Bakhmut in the east, which drew a gasp from the women gathered at the summit.

“We are inspired by the examples and I’m sure these examples will stay in our hearts forever,” Zelenska said.

She added, to cheers: “Ukrainian women and men have been adapting so fast that our enemies have not been able to come up with new challenges for us.”

Wednesday night, Zelenska received the Torch of Freedom Award from the summit presented to her by Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. secretary of state and presidential candidate. Standing under the dome of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Clinton praised Zelenska for being “a forceful advocate for her people.”


“The war against my country — unprovoked, cynical and cruel — is the opposite of all human aspirations,” Zelenska told the hushed crowd in English with tears in her eyes. “It instantly turns progress into repression, life into death. However, after we opened our eyes that were closed with terror, we saw something new: We saw what the new power of women is.”

Dignitaries who attended this event 

  1. Hillary Clinton, Former United States Secretary of State, Senator, First Lady, Lawyer, Author and Activist, 2. Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate & Cofounder, Malala Fund 3. Gloria Steinem, Journalist & Activist 4. Ayesha Curry, Founder & CEO, Sweet July
    5. Mandana Dayani, Creator & Cofounder, I am a voter 6. Mo Abudu, Founder & CEO, EbonyLife Media 7. Catherine O’Hara, Emmy Award Winning Actress and Writer
    8. Amna Al Qubaisi, Formula Racing Driver 9. Jo Ann C. Jenkins, CEO, AARP
    10. Her Royal Highness Lamia Bint Majed Saud AlSaud, Secretary General and member of the Board of Trustees at Alwaleed Philanthropies
    11. Misty Copeland, Ballerina, American Ballet Theatre, Author and Philanthropist
    12. Francine Katsoudas, Executive Vice President and Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer, Cisco 13. Lauren Watkins, President, PuraVida Foods 14. Dina Radenkovic, Cofounder & CEO, Gameto 15. Suneera Madhani, Founder, Stax 16.Aurora James, Founder, Fifteen Percent Pledge and Creative Director & Founder, 17. Brother Vellies
    Karen Wazen, Founder & CEO, 18. Karen Wazen Eyewear and Cofounder, KE Investments
    19. Jessica Smith, Cofounder & COO, TOUCH Talent 20. Nayla Al Khaja, First Female Film Writer, Director and Producer in the UAE

Source : Reuters | Forbes