Silicon Valley sets out a path for Saudi women high-flyers

Updated 09 August 2018

Silicon Valley sets out a path for Saudi women high-flyers

  • Invested is a women and business empowerment event to inspire and equip the next generation of female leaders
  • Invested set out to give Saudi students across California access to the tools, networks and resources that would help them succeed with their big ideasThey are driving economies, paving way for Saudi future

JEDDAH: At the Google Community Space in San Francisco, two companies joined forces on Tuesday to encourage women-led start-ups from Saudi Arabia to Silicon Valley. 

Invested, a women and business empowerment event to inspire and equip the next generation of female leaders, was co-organized by Spark, the Bay Area’s largest community of young philanthropists working for gender equality, and Blossom, the first Jeddah-based accelerator to focus on women-led technology startups in Saudi Arabia 

“Female founders received only 2 percent of venture capital (VC) dollars in 2017, and only 9 percent of US VCs are women” said Amanda Brock, Spark’s executive director.

Invested set out to give Saudi students across California access to the tools, networks and resources that would help them succeed with their big ideas.

“I remember one of the first and best ways I learned about entrepreneurship was through an event in California. It was the best event of my life. It changed everything for me.” said Emon Shakoor, CEO and founder of Blossom.

Students at Invested met and heard directly from women who have been changing entrepreneurship globally.

“Invested had dynamic, educational and confidence-boosting TED-style talks, mentorship from leaders in the field, and strategic networking activities with founders, funders, tech giants, leading accelerators and incubators from Silicon Valley and the Arab world,” Shakoor said. 

Speakers included Caitlin Crosby, founder and CEO of the Giving Keys; Shannon Spanhake, founder and CEO of Cleo; Brittany Davis, director of Deal Flow at Backstage Capital; Abdulrahman Al-Turjuman, section head of marketing at Sedco Holding; and Tasneem Sabri, co-founder of Vela and senior program manager at TechWadi.

“What I wanted every Saudi student studying abroad to know is that working hard and studying in college is not enough,” Shakoor said. “Your network is your empire. Invest in your mind because no one can take that away from you.”

Blossom also launched a promotional campaign for the event with dozens of women interviewed across Saudi Arabia sharing their stories of success and encouraging other Saudi women to push for job creation in the Kingdom.

Sponsors for the event included Silicon Valley Bank, Nour Nouf, Sedco Holding’s Rowad Riyali, Beauti, Saudis in USA and Destination Jeddah. 

“Today, 70 percent of Saudi Arabia’s population is under the age of 34. There are more Saudi women graduating from college, more Saudi women starting businesses, and research shows that the most successful companies have at least one woman founder on the team,” Shakoor said.

“So this year Saudi women are not only driving cars, they are also driving economies and paving the way for Saudi Arabia’s future.

“As one of the youngest Saudi entrepreneurs in the Kingdom, my advice to the youth is to start now, start young.”


Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

Updated 26 May 2020

Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

  • Curfew to be eased on Sunday, except in Makkah, as domestic travel permitted
  • All curfews in Saudi Arabia to be lifted by June 20

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced the easing of restrictions that has halted much of the activity in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Sunday 31, May, the curfew on all areas of the Kingdom will be eased, except Makkah. Movement in cities and within the regions of the country will again be permitted, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The easing will mean the Kingdom’s 24-hour lockdown is relaxed with a curfew from 3 p.m to 6 a.m until Sunday, after which the hours will change to 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.. Makkah will remain under a full 24-hour lockdown.

On June 21, all curfews in the Kingdom will be lifted and prayers at Makkah’s mosque will be permitted.

Before then, social distancing guidelines must continue to be adhered to and gatherings of more than 50 people will continue to be banned.

Authorities have also allowed the attendance at ministries, government agencies and private sector companies, and the return of their office activities.

Some economic and commercial activities will also be allowed to take place including those at wholesale and retail shops, as well as malls. Cafes will be permitted to operate once more.

However, all job sectors where social distancing rules are harder to achieve such as beauty salons, barbershops, sports and health clubs, recreational centers and cinemas will remain closed.

Umrah pilgrimage and international flights will continue to be suspended until further notice.

The new rules are subject to constant evaluation at the health ministry and can be changed if the situation warrants it.

Earlier, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, the health minister, said: “The phases start gradually until we return to normalcy, with its new concept based on social distancing.” 

He added that the precautionary steps taken by the Kingdom early in the outbreak helped to limit the spread of the virus. 

Now, he said, the ministry has developed a plan for the next phase that relies on two main factors: The capacity of the health care system to cope with critical cases, and the expansion of testing to identify new infections as soon as possible.

Reassuring the Saudi nation on Monday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “The bad conditions will pass, God willing, and we are heading toward the good, God willing.” 

The Kingdom recorded 2,235 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, taking the total to 74,795, and the death toll rose by nine to 399. Worldwide the virus has infected more than 5.5 million people and killed nearly 350,000.