Saima Khan: UN Delegate and Co-Founder of Step Up

UN delegate, founder of social enterprise Step Up, former TedX speaker are just some of the titles for nineteen-year-old Saima Khan! Despite achieving so much in such a short amount of time Saima is just a regular teen that has normal hobbies and passions for a person her age. What is even more refreshing is the fact that she is down to earth and has such a unique and creative way of thinking.

Khan is the best example of someone whose heart can be won through her stomach. Like many teens, she loves everything related to food, especially creating professionally stylised food. Saima spends a large chunk of her time watching cooking shows and can even see herself going to culinary school because of her exact replicas of Food Network desserts.

“I have always loved to do things differently, whether it was studying, dressing up, or even eating. I don’t like doing it the normal way,” said Khan. She explained her past ideas that beat conventional norms along with her distinctive mannerisms, proving her creative side is quite rare. She is always on the go because she likes to stay busy with the large number jobs but surprisingly, Khan procrastinates. Not a lot but, when she does, she’ll do it to the tipping point.

Although Saima isn’t heavily into sports or going out a lot, she enjoys the adrenaline rush from watching a horror movie or playing a real life escape room challenge. Other than that, she enjoys watching TV shows such as Friends and The Big Bang Theory. See! A totally normal human being but there’s quite a lot that the youth can learn from her, especially in the UAE.

Her biggest achievement was becoming a UN delegate, she explains how she can see herself as a CEO but never thought she’d make it to the UN. In the initial phase after setting this goal, she only faced obstacles, her age being the biggest restriction (the minimum age is 21) and she saw no hope until then. Her applications kept getting rejected and she felt her final and successful eighth attempt would be another failure. “It was my wow moment. It taught me to keep pushing myself and not give up,” said Khan. Most people believe that when something isn’t working out for you, it’s not meant to be but Saima stands out from the rest in that way. “I go to the extent to make things happen for me,” she continued. For being so young she has had her fair share of failures however, that has never stopped her from trying new things.  

“Despite being associated with 75 organizations, I still feel it’s less. I always think I can do more and I wish I started at an earlier age,” Khan continued. It’s that age-old adage of knowing we can always do more than how much we’re currently doing, which youngsters always feel. But none of it feels like work to her, she never minds travelling to volunteer and committing to more but there’s only so much she can do and she has her mom looking out for her well-being. Since she began volunteering at the age of 13, the thought of knowing she should do more because the world needs it had been her biggest source of motivation and this is what keeps her going even now.

She sees it as a fact and said, “No matter how much we do, it’s still not enough because the world needs much more.”

Talking about her TedX experience, hearing all the compliments after she stepped off the platform was a very moving moment for her. “It’s a platform to inspire people and be inspired,” said Khan. Her moving moment was receiving compliments from the audience members as she always thought she was too young to inspire anyone and hadn’t accomplished enough to be a TedX speaker. But that’s clearly the most exciting fact about her that despite being so young, she’s achieved a lot more than most. Her friends went on and on about how big a deal it was in the TedX spotlight, some deeming it equivalent to joining the UN. After the whole experience, she realized that she had a right to inspire.

Watch this girl in action but taking a look at her organization Step Up. And let me tell you! They have big plans and you can get involved. After the company is established as a licensed organization, their first priority is getting more volunteers on board who truly do wish to make a difference in the world. The second is targeting each project to one of UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The last target is to fulfil their commitment to building 50 wells.


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