TheFace: Abeer Al-Fouti, champion of human capital development in nonprofits

AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj
Updated 16 August 2019

TheFace: Abeer Al-Fouti, champion of human capital development in nonprofits

  • Conversely, when we visited our family in Madinah, although going there always gives me a great sense of pride in my heritage, I never felt completely connected

Abeer Al-Fouti I am a passionate supporter of diversity and inclusion and have spent much of my career working to support human capital development in nonprofit organizations. I have done so by closing cultural gaps and promoting acceptance both in the workplace and in the community.
Passionate about helping others, my career has been diverse and impactful. It began at the renowned Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Humanitarian City, which is one of the largest rehabilitation centers in the world. While I was there, I oversaw training, talent and career development. My success there led to an opportunity to be involved in women’s empowerment, by leading Alf Khair, a social enterprise founded by Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US.
With Alf Khair, I worked on empowering women across Saudi Arabia by helping them identify their personal and professional development goals. For me — and the women I helped — my work at Alf Khair really inspired me and those I was helping. Under my leadership, Alf Khair helped equip women across the Kingdom with the necessary tools to be productive, engaged, competent and integrated members of their communities.
I was born in the Eastern Province, in Alkhobar, and grew up in Abqaiq which is a very small town in the largest and most productive oil field in Saudi Arabia. The population is largely composed of those working for Saudi Aramco, with a large expatriate community.
Both of my parents were from the holy city of Madinah. My father was a businessman who moved from Madinah to the Eastern Province in his teens. He was a hardworking and self-made young entrepreneur who wanted to make sure that his three children had the best possible education.
I remember when going to school in Abqaiq in the late 70s, I looked and sounded different to my classmates with my skin color and western regional Hejazi accent. Many times my classmates would ask me if I was even Saudi!
Conversely, when we visited our family in Madinah, although going there always gives me a great sense of pride in my heritage, I never felt completely connected.
This helped me not just to realize the importance of acceptance and tolerance but also gave me the skills needed to build strong connections with people no matter how different they are. Another important factor was my strong family value system. I always remember my late father’s wise advice with his great emphasis on the importance of tolerance, empathy and respect for others as the key factors to leading a successful life.
Later, after my experience in working closely with disabled patients at the Humanitarian City, I gained an even greater perspective about the importance of empathy and understanding. When I married my British husband, a joining of two different cultures, our experiences inspired us to launch our company, Smile Entertainment, in 2008. We both believed that one of the most effective ways of promoting acceptance, tolerance and understanding is culture, especially when combined with humor. We created an entertainment platform dedicated to encouraging and promoting cultural dialogue through live comedy. When people laugh together, all barriers are broken down.
Currently, I am blessed to be entrusted by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal to manage the Global Initiatives arm of his foundation, Alwaleed Philanthropies, alongside a team of ten powerful Saudi women and inspiring leadership.
I am responsible for international projects, which includes women and youth empowerment, community development, disaster relief and interfaith and intercultural dialogue.
In today’s world, where the voices that call for division are very loud, I believe it is vital to invest in impactful and collaborative cultural bridging initiatives. Effective communication, understanding, and empathy are essential to overcoming cultural divide. For many years, I have worked in promoting cross-cultural understanding among different cultural, ethnic and national groups from around the world.
I now feel that these cross-cultural skills are desperately needed to better understand the “other” and bring people together which I am passionately committed to doing so.

Attacks on oil facilities in Kingdom threaten world economy: Saudi energy minister

Updated 51 min 22 sec ago

Attacks on oil facilities in Kingdom threaten world economy: Saudi energy minister

  • Saudi Aramco says no staff have been injured in attacks
  • The oil giant is working on restoring the lost quantities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said drones that attacked Saudi Aramco installations had caused an interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels in crude supplies and threaten the world economy.

The Arab Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said in a statement that investigations are ongoing to identify the perpetrators.

And Al-Maliki said Arab coalition forces would continue to implement necessary measures to deal with the terrorist threats.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said as a result of the terrorist acts, oil production in Abqaiq and Khurais was knocked out temporarily and that estimates show that 50 percent of the company’s production had been interrupted.

Part of the decrease will be compensated to clients through reserves, Prince Abdulaziz said in a statement carried on the Saudi Press Agency.

The newly appointed minister confirmed there were no injuries to staff at the locations targeted, adding that the company is still assessing the resulting damage.

The attacks not only target the Kingdom’s vital installations, but also target the international oil supply and threaten its security, he said, and are a threat to the world economy. 

The blasts took place at 3:31am and 3:42am at the two locations, both in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, causing fires that were brought under control by emergency services.

The drone attacks, at the world’s largest oil processing plant at Abqaiq and at an oilfield in Khurais, highlight the importance of the international community to protect energy supply against “all terrorist sides that carry out, support and finance such cowardly disruptive acts,” the statement said.

He said that these blasts also knocked out the production of 2bn cubic feet of associated gas daily, used to produce 700,000 barrels of natural gas liquids, which will lead to an approximate 50 percent decrease of Ethane and natural gas liquids supply.

The statement said the company is currently working on restoring the lost quantities, and will present updated information within the next 48 hours.

World leaders condemned the attacks on Saudi Arabia on Saturday and those behind the terrorist acts. 

Donald Trump called Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to reassert his country's “readiness to cooperate with the Kingdom, by all means conducive to maintain its security and stability.”

The Crown Prince "underscored the Kingdom’s willingness and strength to thwart such a terrorist aggression and deal with its consequences,” SPA reported on Saturday.

The UAE said it “condemns this act of terrorism and sabotage and considers it as a new evidence of the terrorist groups’ attempts to undermine the security and stability of the region as a whole.”

“The Houthis must stop undermining Saudi Arabia’s security by threatening civilian areas and commercial infrastructure,” said the British government.

“The US strongly condemns today’s drone attacks. These attacks against critical infrastructure endanger civilians, are unacceptable, and sooner or later will result in innocent lives being lost,” said the US envoy in Riyadh John Abizaid.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was emphatic about the need to condemn Iranian aggression, specifically on Saudi Arabia, and the need to ensure the security of world energy supplies.

“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” he tweeted, “We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression”

The Houthis, who are backed by Iran, said they had carried out the attacks and that 10 drones had been used.