TheFace: Dr. Dana Bakheet, associate professor at Riyadh’s Alfaisal University College of Medicine

Dr. Dana Bakheet (seated, right) and her children. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 18 April 2019

TheFace: Dr. Dana Bakheet, associate professor at Riyadh’s Alfaisal University College of Medicine

I was born into a family with great passion for education and progress.

Both my parents spoke three languages and held higher education degrees. My father (RIP), dedicated his life to our education and it paid off, as my three siblings (two sisters and a brother) and I became distinguished in our careers.

Working hard, ethically and honestly, were the core principles that my parents taught us.

On returning home during the 1980s to pursue my college education at King Saud University (KSU), I got married and had my two eldest sons Ahmad and Talal during the first two years of college.

My dream was, and will always be, to represent my country in the brightest of ways, to have a dedicated and giving personality, and to leave a legacy in improving education and research in my field of expertise.

I obtained my master’s degree from KSU while working as a lecturer and was offered a scholarship to the UK for my Ph.D. I had both my younger children then and faced many obstacles that could have pulled me back from achieving my higher degrees, such as fulfilling my duties toward my house and growing family.

But I kept remembering that what was difficult would take time, and what was even more difficult and would distinguish me from others would take even more time and persistence.

My journey refined many of the skills that my father had taught me: Commitment, perseverance, and hard work, in addition to what I taught myself on time management, prioritization and multitasking.

In 2003, I was appointed as a faculty member at KSU, and in 2007, I started my work at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center (KFSHRC) to expand my knowledge and advance my research career.

My career flourished at KFSHRC and I was assigned to the genetics department. I later became the department’s unit head.

Being an academic has always been very important to me. I was appointed as an associate professor at Alfaisal University College of Medicine in 2009, a position I currently hold, as I am also vice dean of female affairs there.

In 2011, I started working with MAWHIBA (a foundation serving the needs of young Saudi talent) and was selected as a member of its scientific review committee. I also directed summer enrichment programs for MAWHIBA students at KFSHRC and Alfaisal University.

More recently, I started working at the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) as the head of the bio-banking and sample processing unit of the Saudi human genome project (SHGP).

The SHGP is a nationwide project that is the largest of its kind. It was established in January 2014, and recently launched by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of the Vision 2030 strategic projects.

The Kingdom has a high burden of genetic diseases that compromise patients’ quality of life and present a huge economic burden on the country.

The project aims to read/sequence the genome of our population in order to identify affected individuals and those at higher risk, offer appropriate preventive measures and lay the foundation for the development of personalized medical care within the region.

Having said that, the best of my achievements is having raised four achieving, dedicated, and highly cultured children; Ahmad, a mechanical engineer who owns a solar system company; Talal, a banker who is quickly climbing his career ladder; Faisal, who is in 11th grade and has a dream to become a pilot; and Sara, who is in 10th grade and has a great interest in mathematics and physics.

I believe that my country has given me a lot to be thankful for and I dedicate myself and my time to return the favor. I continue to strive to achieve more in my current roles and I always aim to move upwards. 


Rights and benefits of the Saudi ‘Green Card’

The Kingdom is continuing its development and reform plans within Vision 2030 to develop its economy and enhance the attractiveness of its investment environment. (AFP)
Updated 20 May 2019

Rights and benefits of the Saudi ‘Green Card’

  • New visa move will allow residents and expatriates to play a more active role in Saudi economy
  • Media reports suggest the "Privileged Iqama" could cost as much as SR800,000 for a long-term version or SR100,000 for the one-year version

JEDDAH: The Um Al-Qura newspaper, the official gazette of the Saudi government, has published new information concerning the laws and regulations of the Privileged Iqama, widely known as the Saudi “Green Card.” It also carried the conditions under which the Iqama can be canceled.
Following the announcement of the Saudi Cabinet’s approval of the Privileged Iqama residency permit, as previously reported by Arab News, the new information offers a further look at the Privileged Resident Permit (iqama) scheme.
The iqama was first proposed in 2016 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and was approved by the Cabinet last week. It will for the first time allow foreign nationals to work and live in Saudi Arabia without a sponsor.
The scheme will enable expatriates to permanently reside, own property and invest in the Kingdom. An authorized draft of the new Privileged Iqama system offers a number of benefits to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds that will not require a Saudi sponsor.
A special committee has been given 90 days to determine regulations governing the mechanisms of the scheme, such as fees for applicants, which have not been yet determined by the authorities.
Fahad bin Juma, vice chairman of the Shoura Council Financial Committee said that eligibility for the Saudi Green Card will be determined by a number of bodies headed by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment, as reported by Al-Watan newspaper.
He also added that in order to be eligible, applicants must possess scientific or professional skills that are not abundantly available in the Kingdom, or they should be company owners who can invest in the country.
The holder of the Privileged Iqama will be deemed resident for the purpose of applying other statutory provisions, especially tax provisions, regardless of how much time he spends outside the Kingdom in the course of the year.
The applicant must be over 21 years of age, must have a valid passport, must not have a criminal record, and must provide a health report dated within 6 months of the application presenting proof that the applicant is free of infectious diseases. In the case of applications from within the Kingdom, the applicant must obtain a legal resident permit before applying.
The Privilege Iqama rights include possession of private means of transport and any other movable properties that an expat is allowed to acquire as per the Saudi law, employment in private sector establishments and transfer between them (this includes the beneficiary’s family members) except for occupations and jobs from which non-Saudi nationals are banned. The rights also include freedom to leave the Kingdom and return to it independently, use of the queues designated for Saudi nationals when entering and exiting the Kingdom through its ports, and doing business under the foreign investment system.
Under the system, two categories are provided to applicants, an extended iqama and temporary iqama subject to renewal.
Upon approval of the application, according to Article 5, the applicant must pay the fees specified by the designated authorities; the holder will be deemed resident for the purpose of applying other statutory requirements, especially the tax provisions, regardless of how much time he spends outside the Kingdom in the course of the year.
The Privileged Iqama does not entitle the holder to Saudi citizenship.
The holder of the Privileged Iqama, will enjoy several rights, including residence in Saudi Arabia with his family, the right to issue visitor’s visas for relatives as defined by the MOI regulations, the recruitment of domestic workers, the possession of property for residential, commercial and industrial purposes with the exclusion of Makkah, Madinah and border areas as per the regulations. The holder will also be able to utilize property in Makkah and Madinah for a period not exceeding 99 years.
The Ministries of Justice and Commerce and Investment shall establish the necessary mechanisms to ensure the beneficiary’s access to an instrument of utilization issued by the Notary Public. This right will be enforceable by transfer to others according to the rules set by the committee.
Saudi Arabia’s minister of Economy and Planning, Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, said that the Privilege Iqama law approved by the Saudi Cabinet confirms that the Kingdom is continuing its development and reform plans in accordance with Vision 2030 to develop its economy and enhance the attractiveness of its investment environment.
The Privilege Iqama aims to make residents and expatriates an active part of the Saudi economy, promote consumption growth by increasing quality purchasing power and economic activity in various sectors, establish more small and medium enterprises, and generate jobs for Saudi citizens.
The Privileged Iqama can be canceled if the holder did not comply with the obligations stipulated in Article 7 of the law, waivered his residency, and/or passed away or was no longer eligible.
Several matters could lead to the cancelation of the Iqama, such as providing false information in the application, a conviction for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a period exceeding 60 days and/or a fine exceeding SR100,000, or a judicial decision to deport the holder from the Kingdom.
The cancelation or termination of the Privilege Iqama does not entail the transfer of the rights and benefits, obtained in accordance with Article 2 of the law, to the holder’s family. However, if a family member met the conditions of this law and its regulations, he may apply for the Privileged Iqama.
In the event of the cancelation or termination of the holder’s Iqama or any of his family members, the Privilege Iqama Center will, in coordination with the designated authorities, consider and remedy any consequences that may result therefrom in accordance with the law and its regulations.