Watch: UAE’s first all-women SWAT police force

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Sharjah: Emirati women have just broken another glass ceiling after Sharjah inducted a group of 10 women into the first all-women SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team in the country.

The 10 commandos will be deployed for anti-riot operations, officials said. They would be part of the Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishment in UAE.

Brigadier Ahmad Abdul Aziz Shuhail, Director General of Sharjah Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishment, told Gulf News in an exclusive interview that the team will be available round the clock. Their responsibilities also include guarding inmates who may pose a danger to others inside prison.

The SWAT team is also part of the Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishment in UAE.
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

The elite Emirati women commandos, aged between 24-44, have worked in Sharjah Police between two to 20 years. “The 10 women SWAT commandos have undergone rigorous training which includes basic, commando and advanced skills under the guidance of police professional trainers. The Sharjah Police has trained the commandos for any anti-riot duty under the Special Cell unit of the force,” Brigadier Shuhail said.

“The practices adopted by Sharjah Police should be among the best practices of the police,” he added.

What is the SWAT team?
The SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics ) team is an elite unit within a police force, used for exceptional situations that require more firepower or specialised tactics. The officers in a SWAT unit undergo special training and have access to a variety of weaponry, armour and surveillance devices, beyond the standard-issue police gear.

The SWAT team said: “Emiratis are probably the luckiest citizens. Our leaders are way ahead in their vision in support of gender equality. Thanks to Major General Saif Ziri Al Shamsi, commander-in-chief of Sharjah Police and his support, women in Sharjah Police are not only supported but offered all sorts of opportunities and access in the workplace, together with a stimulating environment to thrive. For this, we are grateful and proud to be part of Sharjah Police.”

The SWAT team headed to an assignment
Image Credit: Sharjah Police

The group hailed the support of Brigadier Ahmad Abdul Aziz Shuhail, as well as their families’ support. “We are proud and extremely grateful to be serving our country being part of Sharjah Police. This is a very rewarding role where we get to help the community and have a job that we love.”

They hope their story inspires “all young women still searching for a career path and show them that there is still space for women to serve our country”.

SWAT Police women speak to Gulf News

Assistant Nora Ahmad Al Zarouni, Head of SWAT team, has worked 12 years for Sharjah Police in several departments, including airport strategy and several police stations. “I feel proud to have been chosen the group leader which is a great responsibility. Most of us are mothers and we have families and we have to balance home and work. We work on the security and safety of the state,” Al Zarouni said.

Nora Ahmad Al Zarouni
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Sergeant Lateefa Abbas, who has worked 20 years for Sharjah Police, said that she feels proud that she is among the first group of local SWAT in Sharjah.

She said watching her male counterparts through the demanding regimes made her determined and become tougher. “Our team worked hard collectively.”

She said society has a lot of expectations from the Sharjah Police and to meet these expectations, it needs a good working environment.

Lateefa Abbas
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Huda Abdul Rahman, who has worked for two years for Sharjah Police, said that she was very excited about enrolling in a SWAT course as she could hone her skills.

Huda Abdul Rahman
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Nora Ibraheim, who has worked for 15 years with Sharjah Police, said it was a whole new experience and it was difficult at first as she went through a tough fitness regime.

Nora Ibraheim
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

For her, the most difficult part during training was shooting and particularly the last week of training that was very intensive. Training was done in two shifts — from 6.30am till 12pm and gain from 4.30pm till 7.30pm.

Nasra Suleiman has worked in the police force for 14 years. She was at one posted in Sharjah Airport. From 2013, she worked with Sharjah Prisons’ women section.  “At the beginning I was afraid of the idea. I have been interested in sports activities and was practising at the Sharjah Officers Club.”

Nasra Suleiman
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Aisha Al Dour has been with Sharjah Police for 13 years in the women’s prison section. She was keen to develop her skills. Shooting was the most difficult part of her training. She thanked her parents for their encouragement.

Aisha Al Dour
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Tasneem Hassan, working for two years in Sharjah Police, said that the idea to be part of the SWAT team was a long-drawn one. She learnt shooting, inspection and evacuation techniques. She said that first week of training was hard for her. “My dream brings strength to the women’s branch,” she said.

Tasneem Hassan
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Majda Abdul Rahman has worked for more than 13 years. She was previously posted in police stations and in 2010 she joined the prison for women. She said: “I have learnt martial arts, capture and search techniques and riot control.” Abdul Rahman said her dream is to be a trainer for future generations.

Majda Abdul Rahman
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Jawaher Ali Hasan, who has been with Sharjah Police for two years, said that the course added to her self esteem and strength. Also she has learnt a lot and struck a balance between work and personal life.

Jawaher Ali Hasan
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Mona Ali has been working for 14 years in Sharjah Police in the Women’s Prison. “The training added self-confidence in me. I have trained in shooting, martial arts and combat techniques.” At the beginning, she was afraid of the exercises, but later she overcame her fear. The SWAT experience is new for her, but she loves it.

Mona Ali
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

The group conveyed its special thanks to Captain Abdullah Khader, head of trainers, assistant Abdullah Abdul Karim, corporals Saif Ahmad and Khalifa Ahmad and trainer Khadija for their efforts.

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