Amélia Lakrafi, a determined and visionary MP

Ms. Amélia Lakrafi epitomizes the essence of determination and civic engagement. Her impressive professional journey spans several fields, including entrepreneurship, innovation, cybersecurity, and support for start-ups. In 2001, she discovered Africa, a significant encounter that heightened her awareness of the needs and challenges faced by expatriates. Leveraging her diverse experiences, she founded several associations in France and Africa to combat brain drain, assist the homeless, and improve education and healthcare.

Following the 2015 attacks, Ms. Lakrafi felt a profound calling to serve her country. She joined the citizen reserve and was promoted to the rank of reserve commander in cyber defense, recognizing her dedication and skills. Her political engagement, driven by a desire to serve her country, led her to bring her ideas and dynamism to the National Assembly, where she strives to improve laws and practices for the benefit of her compatriots.

As a deputy representing French citizens living abroad, particularly in the United Arab Emirates, Ms. Lakrafi has effectively utilized her experience to serve the French community. She stands out for her inclusive and proactive approach, working to ensure access to essential services, promote parliamentary diplomacy, and encourage economic and cultural relations between France and the UAE.

Her on-the-ground presence, constant interaction with expatriates through social media and other channels, and support for French associations highlight her unwavering commitment. Ms. Lakrafi has spearheaded significant initiatives, such as the roundtable on accommodating students with special needs and advocating for the appointment of a liaison magistrate, demonstrating her dedication to addressing her constituents’ concrete issues.

Amélia Lakrafi at the National Assembly.

“The French community in the UAE is the largest in the 10th constituency of French citizens abroad” she notes. With over 30,000 registered French citizens, although the actual number is closer to 45,000, this community is highly diverse. It includes professionals in new technologies, defense, industry, education, culture, and numerous entrepreneurs. Above all, Ms. Lakrafi sees herself as an attentive representative, ensuring that state services, especially consular and diplomatic, operate efficiently and meet her constituents’ needs.

Her parliamentary work includes drafting, amending, and voting on laws, as well as overseeing government actions. She also ensures that French citizens abroad have access to vital information and services, such as healthcare and education for their children. Ms. Lakrafi intervenes discreetly in delicate situations, such as when French nationals face difficulties with Emirati authorities.

A concrete example of her role is her involvement with the Caisse des Français de l’Étranger (CFE). “Two years ago, the CFE created a specific offer for French citizens in the UAE” she mentions. She accompanied the institution’s director to Dubai and Abu Dhabi to promote this offer, facilitating dialogue with numerous expatriates on issues like access to healthcare and social security.

She emphasizes the importance of her collaboration with the embassy and consulate, as well as her close connection with French foreign advisors, such as Gilles Grima, Guillaume Nassif, and Hervé Sérol, whom she affectionately calls the “musketeers” for their dedication. Her presence is also notable at events organized by the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) and major events like the Dubai Air Show.

A determination model

Among the projects that Mrs. Lakrafi is particularly proud of is a major roundtable she organized in March 2022 at the Lycée Louis Massignon, focusing on the inclusion of students with special needs. “This meeting had a significant impact and made real progress” she says.

She describes the cooperation between France and the United Arab Emirates as a highly strategic partnership. She highlights the cultural collaboration with the Louvre Abu Dhabi and higher education institutions such as Sorbonne Abu Dhabi, along with schools like ESMOD and the 42 School founded by Xavier Niel.

Mrs. Lakrafi emphasizes the rich programs offered by the French Alliances and the prominence of French schools in the Emirates. Military cooperation is also vital, with a French military base in the Emirates representing land, air, and sea forces. “I was privileged to witness these exchanges” she notes, especially during the World Expo in Dubai.

For her mandate, she has ambitious goals to improve relations between the French in the Emirates and various administrations, whether in France or through consulates. She also aims to expand French educational offerings and actively support aid associations through FIBRE.

Mrs. Lakrafi aspires to better integrate the French community in the Emirates by facilitating access to information and simplifying administrative procedures. “There is still much to be done, but I am determined to continue these efforts with the same method of proximity and listening” she affirms.

For those considering moving to the Emirates, she highlights the importance of leveraging the existing associative network, the French Foreign Counselors, and online resources from the embassy and consulate. She also recommends joining social media groups and consulting the French Chamber of Commerce and Business France for economic advice.

She stresses the need to be prepared to immerse oneself in a different culture and face the challenges of expatriation, such as long commutes and intense heat. “It is crucial to consider these aspects before moving” she advises.

Throughout her years of service, Mrs. Lakrafi has learned valuable lessons that she shares with those looking to follow a similar path. “During these seven years in the National Assembly, I learned to assert myself and gain confidence” she reveals. She emphasizes the importance of listening and empathy and advises cultivating a passion for public service and a commitment to solidarity and justice.

In her current legislative campaign, she focuses on combating domestic violence and supporting French entrepreneurs abroad. “Combating domestic violence remains an absolute priority” she insists. She also aims to create a label for French entrepreneurs abroad.

Her campaign stands out for its extensive use of digital tools and videoconferences, as well as trips to Lebanon and the Emirates to hold public meetings. “Public meetings are essential for understanding the specific needs of our compatriots abroad” she asserts.

Mrs. Amélia Lakrafi embodies a modern and dynamic vision of representing the French abroad. Her diverse background in entrepreneurship, cybersecurity, and associative engagement shows her ability to address the complex challenges faced by expatriates. Her political commitment stems from a sincere desire to serve her country and compatriots with innovative and tailored solutions to their specific needs.