Noura Al-Otaibi, driven by a passion to empower women, identifies ways to succeed in life

Saudi women are excelling in every sphere of life. (AFP file photo)
Updated 14 June 2018
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Noura Al-Otaibi, driven by a passion to empower women, identifies ways to succeed in life

  • Driven by a deep belief in female empowerment, Al-Otaibi wants to achieve this goal by replacing the idea of competition with collaboration and making it a win-win situation for all.
  • Rawd Business Community seeks to empower women, encourage female entrepreneurs to find what suits them, provide them with practical content, and enhance cooperation between female entrepreneurs.

RIYADH: Amid the fast-paced reforms underway in the Kingdom, a Saudi woman has decided to contribute to the change in her own way. She decided to turn the pain she experienced from her failure in business into an inspirational story for other female entrepreneurs. 

Noura Al-Otaibi wants to leave a long-lasting impact on her society and to join in the government’s efforts to help empower women.

Her story began when she first quit her job in the public sector to start her own business. Her life was turned upside down from being used to her monthly salary to knowing nothing for certain. The journey of not knowing what to do in the world of business, which path to choose, how to manage and market, how to finish paperwork, and how to pay the office rent, lasted for two and a half years.

She went through a trial-and-error process. It was much harder than her expectations. However, she never regretted this phase and is grateful for the pain and obstacles she went through. “It was a beneficial experience that taught me lessons I could never learn in any college.”

Al-Otaibi then decided to do different courses and enrolled in training programs, a move that helped her to give a proper direction to her new career. 

The first course, which she attended, served to be an eye-opener. It made her realize the important role a woman could play in other women’s lives. Only 23 trainees took part in that course.

Driven by a deep belief in female empowerment, Al-Otaibi wants to achieve this goal by replacing the idea of competition with collaboration and making it a win-win situation for all.

She started implementing her ideas by conducting meetings and gatherings with her course mates to share knowledge. Al-Otaibi then linked female entrepreneurs to decision-makers to find solutions to existing issues. 

After witnessing the success of the idea, Al-Otaibi decided to officially establish Rawd Business Community to empower women, encourage female entrepreneurs to find what suits them, provide them with practical content, and enhance cooperation between female entrepreneurs.

“It is not just an online group. It is an actual community where everyone is ready to cooperate with one another. We grew from 20 female entrepreneurs to 450 from all over the Kingdom. Many of them come from outside Riyadh just to attend our monthly meetings,” said Al-Otaibi.

 

She provides many essential services to female entrepreneurs, such as law or consultancy to tell them how to finish paperwork, legislation and rules, effective planning, etc. 

The group is divided into different groups and sub-groups based on the level of experience and sectors. The group provides all its members with marketing service for about three hours daily. 

Al-Otaibi said: “I want to serve womenfolk. I believe that as women we don’t have to work in isolation. Cooperation is the key. That is why I am planning to have a mixed-gender community in which we can benefit from each other and support each other in business. No one can succeed alone.”

Manal Alshakrah, CEO of Manalook Center for Training and a group member, said: “In the center, we offered many free-of-charge courses to support female entrepreneurs in Rawd Community. We also offer the group members 20 percent discount on all the courses and workshops in the center.”

She said she benefited a lot from her participation in the group: “I like the healthy environment that pushes for support, cooperation and development. We don’t consider each other competitors. Instead, we treat one another as colleagues.”

Ahlam Cluntun, founder of the Standout Center for Pediatric Physiotherapy, said: “I benefited from the quick answers to my questions without having to contact the organization. Ms. Noura also visited us in the group to brainstorm with us on how to enhance the services of the group.” 

FASTFACTS

The group began with 20 female entrepreneurs. Now it has 450 members from all across the Kingdom.


EXCLUSIVE: Saudi singer-songwriter Tamtam releases music video ahead of historic end to driving ban

Updated 22 June 2018
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EXCLUSIVE: Saudi singer-songwriter Tamtam releases music video ahead of historic end to driving ban

  • Singer-songwriter Tamtam has released a music video to coincide with the day her fellow countrywomen make history
  • In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the LA-based musician said she hopes the song inspires women to see that with patience and perseverance anything can happen. 

JEDDAH: With the long-awaited day when Saudi women can finally drive drawing near, a Saudi singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles has written a song to mark the historic occasion.

Called simply “Drive,” Tamtam’s take on the breakthrough reform covers a range of emotions: Happiness, pride and even surprise.

Millions around the world shared the news that Saudi women would be allowed to drive when it was announced last fall, and with all the preparations taking place, the singer wanted to take part in the best way she could. So she wrote the lyrics to a song that mirrored the exciting events ahead.

Tamtam’s release focuses on the themes of freedom, equality and empowerment that she has explored in her music since the start of her career in 2012.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the LA-based musician said she hopes the song inspires women to see that with patience and perseverance anything can happen. 

“If I had to use one word to describe the feeling, it would be hope. Women in Saudi are ready to have a bigger voice and become more independent.

“This is a huge step forward for all of us. The country is showing us that they know we are ready, and they are here to support us and help launch us forward,” said Tamtam. 

Her song’s lyrics include the words: “We know what we want, we know it’s our time, let go of past perceptions, tomorrow is mine, we got drive” — suggesting that it’s time to look forward and stop looking back at what once was.

The verse mirrors the narrative many Saudis are sharing with the world, empowered by the dramatic changes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is accomplishing with Vision 2030 and beyond. 

Tamtam, inspired by the late Michael Jackson, started singing aged 15. She wrote her first single, “Little Girl,” while attending high school in California after her family moved to the US from Riyadh. Her singing and songwriting have been influenced by events around her, always related to current issues with a twist of optimism. 

Whether it’s her strong vocals or hauntingly beautiful voice, Tamtam’s music transcends expectations. This young Saudi is singing and making a name for herself in the City of Angels, and her positive energy is reflected in her music.

As Saudis embrace a host of reforms, Tamtam believes many Westerners are shocked by the news. Yet people forget that Saudi is a relatively young country and more good changes will come, she said. 

“With hope comes more aspirations, dreams, new achievements and positive energy.”

The “Drive” video is uplifting, with playful, artistic imagery, and soulful and empowering vocals. The singer and her friends wear white, representing peace and femininity, and drive a yellow Ford Mustang convertible (Tamtam’s dream car). 

“Whenever I’m in a car, especially if there is traffic or it’s a long drive, I always turn on music to put me in a better mood. Driving is so much more enjoyable with music,” said Tamtam. “I hope that this song will be blasting through car speakers everywhere.” 

So the question is: Will Tamtam get her Saudi license, too?

“Yes, I can’t wait,” is the answer, obviously.