Maya Hojeij is an acclaimed journalist, news presenter, and media trainer. But that’s not all – She’s also a homegrown role model for women in the UAE. Having spent 16 long years in broadcast media, she is now one of the most recognizable faces in business news, with her own show ‘#Mal’ on Dubai TV.
In an exclusive interview with Souqalmal.com, Maya talks about her career in media and entrepreneurial ambitions, the media landscape in the country, and life as a working mother.
You’ve spent over 16 years in UAE media, and have risen to become one of the most recognizable faces in the industry. What is your biggest source of motivation, what is it that keeps you going?
My primary source of motivation would be my family – my parents, my husband and my children. They give me the strength to be able to be the most that I can. Also, growing up in the UAE and living here now, it is very motivating to see all the opportunities that are available for women. Looking at the leaders of the UAE and their vision for 2020, inspires me to think that nothing is impossible and we are all an integral part of this phenomenal growth story.
Media is not what it used to be a decade ago. How has the media landscape in the region changed since you first started working?
The media industry has definitely changed a lot in the last ten years, and I’d like to focus on the ‘women’ aspect here. When I started working, there was a certain stereotype surrounding women. This has changed now – We are approached for our knowledge now, especially when it comes to business news. Look at the main business news presenters in the Arab world, they are mostly women.
Has social media changed the perception of viewers? What is the way forward for the media industry in the ‘social’ age?
I personally think social media is a mixed blessing. On one hand, it provides you with an easier access to influencers and public figures. But on the other hand, there is a deluge of information out there. I would advise people to filter the information available on social media. Users must focus on the source of information to make sure it is credible.
You have also expressed an interest in starting your own company in the future. In your opinion, what are the key drivers for launching an entrepreneurial journey?
If I were to go down the entrepreneurial route, it would definitely have to be in the field of media consultancy and training, which is what I’m most passionate about. I’m a certified trainer and I train executives and speakers.
Public speaking is one of the most common fears people have. My hope is to prepare the next generation to become better speakers.
Women’s participation in the workforce has come a long way, but what are the main initiatives that are still needed for a greater integration of women in the workforce, especially in key decisions areas?
We have come a long way in terms of women empowerment, but despite the efforts aimed at higher inclusion of women in key decision areas, their participation still remains low. What we need is a collective support system to enable women to climb the leadership ladder. UAE serves as a great example in this regard, with more than half of its workforce comprising of women.
A job in media seems like a 24×7 commitment. How do you balance your time between career and family?
I had a working mother and that is one of the things I am most proud about. That gave me a great role model to follow, and I try my best to achieve a balance between my professional and personal commitments. I definitely feel that women are great at multitasking and can balance both career and family.
You also teach media courses at the American University of Dubai. What advice would you give to those looking to build a career in media?
I try to incorporate ‘ethics’ in my curriculum – being true to yourself, always remembering those who have helped you reach where you are, and the importance of honest hard work. Nothing is impossible with hard work and dedication – Sky’s the limit.