TheFace: Ohoud Al-Harbi, supervisor at Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation 

Ohoud Alharbi with her brother Abdullah. ( AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 30 August 2019

TheFace: Ohoud Al-Harbi, supervisor at Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation 

I built myself from scratch. In a household with 10 siblings, I was a middle child, and my father’s favorite.

I’ve always been very opinionated, and my family has allowed me to be open about my stance on many things.

Growing up, I was immensely interested in art, specifically drawing throughout my adolescence. I do not draw anymore, but have taken an interest in photography, and I especially enjoy capturing people going about their daily lives.

I do not consider myself a professional, rather a semi-professional in street photography. On my Instagram account, I document stories from around the world through the cities I have visited.

When women driving was permitted last June, my life turned 180 degrees. It has allowed me to rediscover the city in which I was born. I started seeing Riyadh in a new light as a photographer. I became giddy about discovering new places that I could capture through the lens of my camera.

Before that, I used to always go out with my driver and felt like I had to accommodate him and other family members. During one of these drives, I came upon a spot that got me thinking about creating a personal project for myself.

It was right across King Saud University, targeting students and staff, where I decided to set up a high-quality coffee shop that was affordable and accessible to them.

Soho Shot opened four months ago, and my partners and I are anticipating the students’ return to school to test our brand and services. We’ve chosen the name based on New York City’s neighborhood of art, and our logo — a one-line drawing of a face sipping coffee — is artistic and minimalistic in a way that we hope will draw students in.

As a coffee lover myself, and keeping in with social trends, the idea struck me while driving past the empty spot and in a way, it felt right. Most students need their morning cup of coffee or a quick fix before exams. I made sure to design Soho Shot spaciously to provide them with a cozy place to study.

In our coffee house, we are also sponsoring artists to come in and draw and decorate coffee cups for customers.

For four years, between 2005 and 2009, I worked in Riyad Bank’s call center. I then suggested to management about monitoring call center demands and supervising service agreements, which enabled me to move to the back office to maintain quality assurance.

After that experience, I decided to continue with my studies, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration and administrative systems while simultaneously working at the National Water Co. (NWC).

At the time, the NWC had just launched, and I started in corporate relations overseeing quality assurance. I then moved up the ladder and joined performance management as a specialist, monitoring the company’s projects in Riyadh.

When I graduated from the Arab Open University, many more opportunities presented themselves to me. I started working for Tata Consultancy Services, providing service-level agreement reports for General Electric projects.

From there, I moved on to the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) where I am currently a supervisor in the project management office.

I have always been independent, even as a child and I am very lucky to have a family that has helped shape the woman I am today and is understanding of how demanding my career is.


Houthi attack on Saudi Aramco facilities act of terror: Japanese defense minister

Updated 16 September 2019

Houthi attack on Saudi Aramco facilities act of terror: Japanese defense minister

TOKYO: Taro Kono, the defense minister of Japan, said that threats to his country’s oil supply was the “most worrying scenario” he could imagine in international relations, in the wake of attacks on Saudi Arabian oil production facilities. 

“The most pessimistic scenario right now is that something happens in the Straits of Hormuz and the oil supply gets cut down, and that would send a shock wave through the global economy. I think the price of oil is already rising after this attack on Saudi facilities, so that’s the most worrying scenario right now,” he told a conference in Tokyo, Japan.

However, speaking on the sidelines to Arab News, he insisted that Saudi Arabia would remain a reliable partner of Japan - which imports around 40 per cent of its crude from the Kingdom - and downplayed concerns about long-term supply problems.

“Saudi has been and will be an important source of our energy supply. We have international co-ordination, and we have reserves, so we are not really worried about that,” he said. 

Kono, who was until recently Japan’s foreign minister, said that his country would be seeking to promote diplomatic solutions to the latest Middle East conflagration. "We definitely need to ease the tension between those countries. As Foreign Minister, the last thing I was doing was calling the Iranian Foreign Minister and the French Foreign Minister to ease the tension the region through diplomatic actions, and I think it's important to continue doing it.

“This Houthi attack on Saudi is a little different, because it's a terrorist attack. I think we may require some kind of military operation against those drone attacks, and that's something out of Japan's constitutional boundary. I think Japan will be focusing on diplomatic efforts in easing tension in the region.”

He raised concerns about the apparent lack of sophistication in the recent attacks. “If it is really drones, that is a lot cheaper than any form of conventional missile,” he said.