TheFace: Samara Zaza, Saudi NGO specialist

‘I attribute my accomplishments to the support of my three boys and my husband,’ says Samara Zaza. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 17 January 2019

TheFace: Samara Zaza, Saudi NGO specialist

  • My mother, an avid advocate of education, instilled in me the love for learning

For more than two decades, I have devoted my career at the Ministry of Social Affairs to developing infrastructure for not-for-profit programs focused on enhancing the quality of life for underprivileged communities, disadvantaged families, vulnerable orphans and individuals with disabilities. 

I am the proud daughter of Mustafa Zaza, a communications officer from Makkah who was assigned to the late King Abdul Aziz’s private office in Riyadh. 

My mother, an avid advocate of education, instilled in me the love for learning, leading me to earn a BA in social work from King Saud University and an MA in psychology (with an emphasis on school counseling) from Boston University in the US. I keep up with new trends through continuing education and also maintain my social work and counseling license. 

Women’s associations were limited in number in the early days of my career, which paved the way for many female board members to reach their goals within these respected entities.

By combining these visions and ambitions with my administrative knowledge, the desired fruit of their labor has seen the light.

From that point, I focused my work on encouraging members of the community to establish associations in various fields, such as health and social development, to enable their communities to lean toward modernization. 

There is a noticeable increase in the number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). 

As a field researcher at the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, I have participated in a number of committees to discuss programs that help associations develop and progress to reach a level of satisfaction in the work they present. 

In my current role with the Labor Ministry, I continue to support social goodwill programs, addressing multiple needs in varied capacities.

I was also privileged to have worked on a Ministry of Interior social research program related to women and children and have participated in UN-sponsored events representing the Ministry of Social Affairs.

NGOs were a rare phenomenon, and so I was motivated to enhance the role of these organizations within Saudi communities. 

After attending several global training and professional exchange programs, I developed know-how of how NGOs operate within different cultures. 

The methodologies adopted by several NGOs in the US and UK helped me develop, assist and support several newly founded organizations across the country. I believe this was how I was able to excel and pioneer the development of nonprofit programs. 

My efforts paid off. Today, Vision 2030 has a dedicated goal to enhancing NGOs in conformity with the infrastructure and policies I initiated years ago.

I attribute my accomplishments to the support of my three boys and my husband, Abdul-Mohsen Al-Shoaibi, a US-educated visionary who, more than two decades ago, had the foresight to became one of the first Saudi alternative energy solar engineers. 


First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

Updated 17 July 2019

First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

  • 4,000 to partake in this year’s pilgrimage after Saudi Arabia increased quota

COLOMBO: Nearly 180 Sri Lankan Hajj pilgrims left for Saudi Arabia on Monday night, but not before thanking the Kingdom for the comprehensive facilities offered to them.

Mohamed Hashim Mohamed Haleem, Sri Lanka’s minister of postal services and Muslim religious affairs, said that this year’s issuing of Hajj visas was smooth due to the new e-Hajj services introduced by the Saudi government. 

“We were able to process all 4,000 Hajj visas efficiently. All of them were issued well in time,” Haleem said.

He added that officials from his ministry will be available at the airport to assist the pilgrims with their departures.

The minister said the flights of pilgrims this year will be ferried by both Saudi Arabian Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines. Haleem, who intends to participate in this year’s Hajj, said that the last flight of Sri Lankan pilgrims will leave Colombo on Aug. 7.

Sajjath Mohammed, a journalist from Madawala News, praised the e-Hajj service, saying: “The biometric services for the visas were available to pilgrims in Kandy and Batticaloa in addition to Colombo, the capital of the island.”

Rizmi Reyal, president of the International Airline Ticketing Academy in Sri Lanka, said that this year the Hajj services from Colombo have been enhanced to give a better experience to the pilgrims. He thanked the Saudi government, the Muslim Religious Affairs Ministry in Colombo, the Saudi Embassy in Colombo and the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh for playing their part in these improvements.

The Sri Lankan government will also send a medical team to attend to any urgent needs of the pilgrims before they are taken to the nearest medical facilities in the two holy cities.