Reflecting on 2018
A New Year is finally here, and I am excited about what 2019 has in store for us. The highlight of 2018 for Saudi Arabia was undoubtedly women being able to drive. What an advancement this has been. The entire world was cheering Saudi women for this step forward. We have achieved independence from a male driver or male family member taking us where we need to go.
This entails confidence in women’s ability to achieve what they want on their own without outside help. It also allows for better time management for women to do all their errands by themselves. Most important for me as a mom, it gives us the freedom to take our kids to school and spend quality time with them. Kids grow up so quickly, so we should enjoy every moment with them.
Another highlight of 2018 was the Saudi football team competing in the World Cup. It was my first time visiting the host country Russia. I was there for the opening ceremony and the first match, between Saudi Arabia and Russia. What a game that was.
An important lesson we learned from our defeat was that we have to invest in sports in our school system from a very young age if we want to have the future Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo playing on the Saudi football team.
For instance, when Japan’s Education Ministry invited me to tour elementary and high schools, and I saw how the country was building rooftop swimming pools in their schools, I asked one of the principals why they did this. The answer was that since Japan did not achieve any gold medals for swimming in the Olympics, they invested in training students to swim from an early age. That is what I call identifying goals and planning to achieve them. Arigato Japan!
I am sure each of us has our own highlights from 2018, good or bad. It is important to list them and learn from them so we can turn them into something positive for the coming years. I wish all my readers a wonderful and exciting 2019.
Dr. Taghreed Al-Saraj is a best-selling Saudi author, an international public speaker and an entrepreneurship mentor.