As one of Al Arabiya News’ most senior news anchors, Fatima Daoui hopes her new autobiography, Don’t Look Down, will inspire more women to forge a career in the Middle East’s media industry.
However, she’s honest about the challenges she has faced, and that her journey to becoming one of the region’s most recognized faces wasn’t without complications.
In her refreshingly candid book, the Moroccan journalist touches on sensitive subjects such as age discrimination, stereotyping in the workplace and “professional burnout.” In fact, she told Livehealthy that she once worked so hard that she fell severely ill and had to take time off work.
“It was around six years ago, when I was doing a special show about successful regional billionaires,” she explained.
“It took up a lot of time and effort and I was always traveling. I wanted it to be perfect and I became obsessed with managing every single detail, even what the cameraman was doing. On top of that I was also presenting my usual business show and I just put way too much pressure on myself. Eventually, my body shut down and forced me to stop.”
Inspiring the next generation
Despite that setback and the challenges she has faced, the overall tone of her book is positive.
“A woman’s success in the media used to depend mainly on how good looking and young she was,” she said defiantly.
“But I think this attitude is diminishing, because we now have strong female anchors, like me, who have been doing this job for a very long time. These days, the older you are, the more respect and credibility you have.”
With 15 years’ experience under her belt, she wants to try and encourage more women to pursue senior roles.
“If we have more credible, professional women sitting in the boardrooms of these media companies, which used to be predominantly dominated by men, then we will definitely create a better working environment for women, and one where they can thrive too.
“But to do that we need to be willing to roll up our sleeves and get a little messy. My book is designed to help every woman with their personal fight, whatever it may be. Because let’s be honest, for women, everything is a fight. We often have to work harder than men to succeed.”
Never giving up
Despite her natural confidence and talent in front of, and behind, the camera, Fatima confessed that there were times when she debated giving up on her dream career.
“It was hard sometimes, especially when I was experiencing extra pressure, or I had to miss out on family occasions. Traveling so far from home was difficult too.
“But I promised myself I was going to give it my all and not give up. I spent years working extremely hard and I’m so happy it’s paid off. I never thought I’d get to where I am today.”
Of course, while presenting live on one of the world’s leading Arab news networks is all in a day’s work for the 41-year-old, writing a memoir was an entirely different kind of challenge.
It took her several drafts and four years to finish, but she’s thrilled with the final result and hopes it will provide help and guidance for women across the world.
“While it is most relevant for young females from the Middle East who are interested in pursuing a job in media, I think any ambitious woman who is considering taking a less traditional career path will relate to it and find it useful and hopefully quite motivational,” she said.
“My ultimate wish is for no woman to be held back from achieving her goals, simply because of her gender.”
Harriet Shephard is an Abu Dhabi-based copywriter and freelance journalist with a particular focus on fitness, travel and lifestyle, which, along with good food, also happen to be her main passions when she's not typing away at her laptop.