Saudi women ‘partners in the country’s future’

The naming of Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan as Saudi ambassador to the US is an example of the confidence the Saudi leadership has placed in women’s capacities. (SPA)
Updated 29 April 2019

Saudi women ‘partners in the country’s future’

RIYADH: Ambitious Saudi women are making giant strides in line with social changes in the Kingdom as they overcome challenges and obstacles to become partners in building the country’s future.
If 2017 was the “year of empowering Saudi women,” reforms in 2018 aimed at breaking down gender barriers were even more dramatic, with a ban on women driving overturned and the introduction of anti-harassment laws.
Female students were also allowed to take part in school sports, families were permitted to attend football games and Saudi women were encouraged to compete in the Olympic Games. High-flying women were granted licenses to pilot airplanes for the first time in the Kingdom’s history. And in 2019, the Kingdom appointed its first female ambassador.
On the international scene, Saudi women’s competencies were acknowledged in 2001 with the appointment of Thoraya Obaid — the first Saudi woman to graduate from a US university on a government scholarship — as executive director of the UN Population Fund.
The naming of Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan as Saudi ambassador to the US is an example of the confidence the Saudi leadership has placed in women’s capacities in all forums in light of the social, economic, political and cultural empowerment of Saudi women.
In the health field Dr. Samar Al-Homoud, a consultant surgeon at King Faisal Specialized Hospital and the Research Center, was honored by King Salman this year, receiving the King Abdul Aziz Medal (First Class) at the National Festival of Heritage and Culture (Janadriya)
Meanwhile, Dr. Khawla Al-Kuraya, senior cancer research scientist at King Faisal Specialized Hospital, is currently directing the King Fahd National Center for Children’s Cancer and Research, which operates under King Faisal Specialized Hospital and the Research Center in Riyadh.
In the field of science, researcher Fatoun Sayegh has completed a PhD in applicable fungi technology at the University of Liverpool in the UK and is head of the natural marine products unit at King Fahd Research Center.
Researcher Hayat Sindy became the first Arab woman to get a PhD in biological technology from the University of Cambridge. Her many inventions includes a probe that determines the effects of medications on the human body, helping astronauts to monitor their blood sugar and blood pressure levels. She also has carried out research projects in environmental protection and the measurement of toxic gases.
In military and security field, medals have been awarded to women affiliates of the Ministry of Defense, who took part in Operation Decisive Storm and Operation Restoring Hope. Mai Abulsaud, Hind Obeid Al-Qathami, and Nora Abdulrahman Al-Nueiser received the King Fahd Medal (Third Class).
In the arts, Saudi women such as film directors Haifaa Mansour and Hind Al-Fahad made their mark in international festivals.
Many names emerged in the field of literature and poetry, including Omayma Al-Khamis and Sara Al-Khathlan.
In engineering, Saudi engineer Reema bint Sultan bin Rabea is working in the underground metro project, the Kingdom’s largest public transport scheme.
The economic and financial sector has also hired remarkable women, such as Iman bint Habbas Al-Mutairi, assistant to the minister of commerce and investment; Khuloud Al-Dakhil, head of the statistics committee at the Council of Saudi Chambers; Sara Al-Suhaimi, the first Saudi woman to be appointed head of the Tadawul board; and Rania Nashar, CEO of Samba Financial Group.

Saudi entrepreneur aims to revive Al-Balad

Saudi entrepreneur Abdullah Al-Hodaif has been passionate about art all his life. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 11 min 59 sec ago

Saudi entrepreneur aims to revive Al-Balad

  • Abdullah Al-Hodaif’s passion for art has led him to invest in a wide range of cultural projects

JEDDAH: Thirty-two-year-old Saudi entrepreneur Abdullah Al-Hodaif has been passionate about art all his life. He started collecting paintings in his warehouse when he was only six years old. By the time he was 16, his warehouse was filled with vintage art pieces.
After attaining his master’s degree from abroad, he was inspired by Saudi Vision 2030 upon his return to the Kingdom.
Today, Al-Hodaif has redecorated four buildings in Jeddah’s popular tourist attraction, Al-Balad.
They house Bait Al-Hodaif, a non-profit art organization, and include a small museum that consists of 14 rooms and displays items from the 1910s to the 1980s: artwork, photographs, newspapers and magazines, and nostalgic games such as Carrom, currencies from different Arab countries and more.
“It displays old Hejazi interiors, visitors can see how kitchens used to be, an old Majlis and games, televisions, newspapers. People can even host events there,” Al-Hodaif told Arab News.
Bait Al-Hodaif creates annual campaigns to redecorate the streets of Jeddah with graffiti and different artwork. Last Ramadan, they created eight projects in districts such as Al-Karantina, Al-Petromin and Al-Aziziyah.


• Bait Al-Hodaif’s mission is to promote Saudi art culture.

• The buildings of his projects are over 200 years old.

• Values: beauty, peace, kindness, giving, persistence and love.

• Bait Ziryab was named after Iraqi composer Ziryab.

• 90% of Bait Ziryab’s students are female.

“In the poorer areas, we created artwork in different districts and held recycling workshops for children. The aim of the artworks on the wall is to create a cheerful image for the children, for them to see one of their favorite cartoon characters on the wall,” Al-Hodaif told Arab News.
“We worked under seven values: Beauty, peace, kindness, giving, persistence and love. We paint the language of love and peace on the walls.
“This year, we created a project called Arbab Al-Jamal to beautify areas in Al-Balad — as seen on the roof of Al-Hodaif Museum — for all of Ramadan. The goal is to complete 11 artworks by the end of Ramadan.”
Al-Hodaif Museum consists of six floors and is one of the tallest buildings in Al-Balad.
“It offers weekly art workshops and classes for pottery, sketching and other forms of art. It also hosts events on a monthly basis, be they cultural, poetic, cinematic or musical.”
The museum also houses contemporary art. “I want the youth to come to historic Jeddah, not to see something old. Visitors have seen plenty of that. What I want to do is bring them through modern art and something new. The youth don’t want to see an old car or an old radio, they want to see art, but I want to show them art in a historic site.”
Al-Hodaif’s goal is not to bring back the past.


• Provide a service that supports the thriving art scene in Saudi Arabia.

• Discover and support local artists and showcase their work locally and internationally.

• Provide the space and equip the artists with the appropriate resources to work.

• Instill values of peace through art.

• Offer educational workshops and courses to develop the skills of young talents.

“We combined the modern with the old. We are very much with the present times,” said Al-Hodaif.
Bait Ziryab is a music school that teaches Arabic music and promotes Arabic music culture. It offers lessons in Arabic instruments such as the oud, qanun and ney, and also offers lessons in Western instruments such as the piano.
“It was named after the most famous musician in Andalusia, Iraqi composer Ziryab, who migrated to Andalusia and was the first to open a music school that teaches the oud in Andalusia, and he taught the daughters of kings,” he told Arab News
Al-Hodaif established Arbab Al-Heraf, a platform that promotes the art and culture of Saudi Arabia, with a branch in Al-Balad and another in Al-Basateen district.