TheFace: Esra Albuti, Saudi tax specialist

Esra Albuti. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 28 December 2018
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TheFace: Esra Albuti, Saudi tax specialist

  • I was delighted to be the first female tax specialist accepted by the firm in Saudi Arabia

Esra Albuti: A life in numbers They say sons usually follow in their father’s footsteps. That wasn’t the case in my family. Instead, it was me that followed in my father’s footsteps — I am currently the youngest director in Ernst and Young’s Riyadh office — and I couldn’t be prouder.
Growing up in a family of six children (I was the second-youngest), I always looked up to my father who is a Certified Public Accountant and gained both his masters and Ph.D. in accounting from the US.
I fell in love with numbers and accounting as a child. I grew up reading my father’s CPA books. My dream started to take shape and I was determined to achieve it. I graduated from high school with a high GPA and enrolled in the School of Business at King Saud University, majoring in accounting. Maybe I should have studied computer science, given that accountants are seen by many as simply “cashiers.” However, my family made me realize that it is better to be a happy cashier than to listen to others and regret it.
I was a focused A+ student and made it to the Dean’s list and graduated top of my class with honors. It was at university that I first heard about Ernst and Young, one of the top accounting and auditing firms in the world. I was determined to work there.
I did have slight concerns that I could be rejected, since I graduated from a public university, but I’ve never let the word ‘no’ deter me. I saw it as a challenge to get Ernst and Young to accept me, and I was determined to meet that challenge.
I was delighted to be the first female tax specialist accepted by the firm in Saudi Arabia. Although working in an all-male environment was initially challenging, the support of my family and the firm, combined with my work ethic, enabled me to gain the trust of my colleagues and of the company as a whole.
I feel proud that, through my career, I am giving back to my country and the next generation of females by encouraging and hiring Saudi female students to join this practice and by raising awareness of specializing in such a unique industry as taxes. I was honored to be the first female manager in Saudi Arabia in all of EY’s service lines.
I was also so proud to be nominated to become the first Saudi female partner specializing in tax for EY in Saudi Arabia. That’s been my dream since I joined the company. I am still ambitious and always looking for new challenges. I believe that there is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.
In my spare time, I enjoy to drawing and painting. I find it relieves stress. I have put many of my paintings up at home. I also enjoy traveling, particularly to London. I spent a year in EY’s London office, and I grew to love the city for what it really is.
I’m also a part-time instructor — I teach tax and zakat classes in universities. I love teaching the younger generation and helping them practice this unique subject. I’m happy and proud that I’m able to inspire my students to specialize in taxes and to join EY.


World-famous Italian opera house orchestra debuts in Saudi Arabia

Updated 4 min 37 sec ago
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World-famous Italian opera house orchestra debuts in Saudi Arabia

  • Organized by the Saudi Culture Ministry, “An Italian Opera Journey” took place at the King Fahd Cultural Center
  • The Kingdom’s first opera house will be built in Jeddah, and is scheduled for completion in 2022

RIYADH: Residents in Riyadh were treated on Friday to some of the best that Italian opera had to offer, with a performance by the symphony orchestra of the Teatro Alla Scala Academy, which made its debut in Saudi Arabia.

La Scala is one of the most famous opera houses in the world, dating back almost 250 years. 

The academy offers world-class training in all disciplines of symphony, opera and ballet, under the supervision of famous musicians. 

Organized by the Saudi Culture Ministry, “An Italian Opera Journey” took place at the King Fahd Cultural Center. 

Only registration was required to attend the free event, which sold out almost instantly, with 3,000 music lovers, artists and poets enjoying an hour of beautiful tributes to classical music.

The show opened with a surprise performance of the Kingdom’s national anthem by Saudi opera singer Sawsan Al-Bahiti, who received a standing ovation for her rendition. 

Al-Bahiti was invited by the ministry to perform at the event as part of its efforts to showcase national talents.

The orchestra was conducted by maestro Pietro Mianetti, and featured performances by soprano Francisca Manzo and tenor Ricardo Della Sciucca. 

Some of the most iconic pieces from 19th-century Italian opera were performed. 

At the end of the show, a standing ovation led to an encore.

Deputy Culture Minister Hamed Fayez took to Twitter to express how much he enjoyed the evening. 

“A beautiful night spent with the esteemed La Scala opera at the King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh, amidst a wonderful crowd, with an exceptional performance from our Italian guests,” he tweeted, posting photos. The performance is one of the ministry’s efforts to attract high-quality artistic events that enrich the Saudi cultural landscape and enhance quality of life. 

The Kingdom’s first opera house will be built in Jeddah, and is scheduled for completion in 2022. 

The institution aims to become the new home of a Saudi resident orchestra. 

The Kingdom has also seen the opening of a music institute by famed Egyptian violinist Mahmoud Sorour, with a second music institute in the works.