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Shaana Farooq: Bridging the gender gap in the Maldives’ construction industry

Posted: 6 March 2018


Australia Global Alumni

After her Australia Awards Scholarship, Shaana Farooq from the Maldives started overseeing her country’s most significant infrastructure projects.

As a leading woman in the Maldives’ male-dominated construction industry, Shaana inspires young women to work in the field of construction. She is not only breaking through gender norms, but also leading on pioneering construction projects contributing to and influencing her home country’s development.

Through an Australia Awards Scholarship, Shaana undertook a Master of Construction Law at Melbourne Law School. Now, as the Director General of the Infrastructure Department at the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure in the Maldives, Shanna leads a team of multidisciplinary professionals, formulating and implementing major infrastructure development projects.

In addition to overseeing the development of roads, causeways and now bridges, Shaana takes responsibility for leading on reclamation and shore protection, local access harbour construction and social housing.

These projects under her portfolio account for more than USD100 million in the national budget each year and are worth more than USD300 million in the form of loans or grant aid from international funding agencies.

Before undertaking her Australia Awards Scholarship, Shaana received a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Construction Management and held numerous roles at the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure. Shaana joined the construction field in 2001 as a young enthusiast of the industry. She initially worked as a Project Officer Trainee assisting in the administration of national tender procurement of development projects, and had a passion to learn more.

Shaana inspires young women to work in the field of construction

Shaana inspires young women to work in the field of construction

Thanks to the knowledge Shaana gained through her studies in Australia’as well as her interaction with fellow professionals, including construction industry practitioners and lawyers working on development projects all around the world – Shaana is now able to apply best approaches and principles in the local context when formulating major development projects.

The bridge construction project Shaana is currently overseeing is one of the most ambitious projects she has undertaken to date. The USD190 million project is one of the highest valued infrastructure projects in the Maldives, being implemented through grant and local financing. This was her first opportunity after completing her Australia Awards Scholarship to apply the skills she gained from her education in Australia to contract negotiation on a major development project.

As a leader in the Maldives and as an Australia Awards alumna, Shaana is proud to note that other Australia Awards alumni with Engineering and Environmental Management background are leading or contributing expert knowledge to this pioneering project in the Maldives.

Shaana has recently been elected to the Executive Committee of the Maldives Australia Awards Alumni Association. She is looking forward to connecting with the many Association members who are positively contributing and making a lasting impact as leaders, contributors and change-makers in the development of the Maldives.

It is her belief that as the country moves through rapid social and infrastructure development, it will be beneficial in working towards sustainable development to follow current developments in Australia and transfer knowledge by maintaining professional and institutional links.