TheFace: Sarah Al-Jindan, Saudi software engineer

Sarah Al-Jindan. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 04 October 2019

TheFace: Sarah Al-Jindan, Saudi software engineer

  • Sarah Al-Jindan is a senior front-end engineer at Seera Group, a leading Saudi travel, and tourism company

Empathy is much stronger than sympathy — it leads towards compassion. Where you do more than a donation, you give up your time to help others who need you. 

This is something I learned from joining the volunteering world at a young age. My sisters and I were part of a big community in the city of Alkhobar because of my mother’s charitable and philanthropic work. She is the director of the Orphans Sponsorship Department at Fatat Alkhaleej Society. This experience not only gave me a strong work ethic but also made me more understanding of others.

My father is a retired doctor and university director. Both of my parents are role models, and they planted robust ethics in our minds as we were growing up.

Most of my family members work in the health sector, and that set the bar high. Everyone assumed I’d follow in the footsteps of my family but I chose a different path for myself, finding a passion for computers.

Thankfully, I have been blessed with the best support system anyone could ask for, my parents and siblings. I am the youngest in the family, and I would not be where I am right now without them, they are my backbone. I consider myself very lucky and aim to always make them proud of what I do.

I would love to start a software solution business back in Saudi Arabia, because I know that there is definitely a market for it while there is a lack of providers.

Sarah Al-Jindan, software engineer

Driven by my passion for technology, computers, and design, I did my bachelor’s degree in digital media at the University of the West of England, in Bristol, UK. My field of study included creative technologies, I was involved in game development, software engineering, web design, and animation. After that, my interest became more multidisciplinary, and I did my master’s in human-computer interaction (HCI) at the University of Bath.

It is an exciting new field of study where psychology and other social and behavioral sciences unite with computer science and related technical fields; it attempts to understand the human experience of using technology.

Being exposed to so many different disciplines in computer science, and doing several internships and placements focused on software engineering, I totally fell in love with programming.

Currently, I am living in Dubai working as a senior front-end engineer at Seera Group, a leading Saudi travel, and tourism company. My position is connected with my field of specialization in HCI, but more focused on programming.

Working at the online unit for the travel agency, I am the middle person between the back end and the user. I’m learning a lot working alongside very supportive colleagues and mentors, definitely a fun environment to work in. 

As digital infrastructure grows in the Kingdom, people are becoming more creative, coming up with many creative ideas for businesses, websites, apps, which will need trusted software solution providers to bring them to life.

I would love to start a software solution business back in Saudi Arabia because I know that there is a market for it while there is a lack of honest providers.

Also, I feel this problem allows many people in the market to take advantage of clients, which slows down the whole market and ideas get lost. I want to establish a place to help people to bring their ideas to life, which will benefit all.

I am currently building my portfolio to begin my startup. I want to have a strong start and not enter the market prematurely. I want to take my time, preparing myself, searching and discovering local talents and building my team.

Working with startups has always been a fun, enriching experience for me. I worked in a lot of startups, and I know how much dedication someone needs to give.

The reward is a more intense and extensive experience because there is a lot of pressure on each individual to deliver. Having fewer people on the team means more responsibility on each person, which ultimately gives you a lot of insight.

I abide by the user experience guru Steve Krug’s motto “Don’t make me think.” It means that the most critical characteristic of any technical product is to make it self-evident, that users do not think about what they are doing while using it, everything has to be self-explanatory.

Global stars shine at Saudi leisure forum

Updated 11 min 52 sec ago

Global stars shine at Saudi leisure forum

  • “It (Saudi Movies) will bring Saudis closer to the world and the world closer to Saudi,” Shahrukh Khan 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia took another step toward establishing its place on the global entertainment map with a major industry event in Riyadh on Sunday.

The Joy Forum19 brought together entertainment promoters and pioneers from around the world, along with global stars such as Indian actor and film producer Shah Rukh Khan; Hong Kong martial artist, actor, film director Jackie Chan and Belgian actor and martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme.

The event was organized by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which signed several important agreements on the day, including a financing guarantee program for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Participants are ushered in on the first day of the Joy Forum19 event in Riyadh. (AN photo by Noor Nugali)

“Our message is for both, locally and internationally. Me and my generation suffered a lot, we had lots of time on our hands,” GEA chairman Turki Al-Sheikh said at the event.

“Today you are witnessing things we have never had in Saudi Arabia. We have 300,000 visitors to our events, and our sales have hit 80 percent.

“Saudi Arabia has never seen anything like Riyadh Season, we have over 400 sponsors, which is unprecedented.”

Al-Sheikh announced that the authority had named a stadium after singer Mohammed Abdo, the “Artist of Arabs,” and another after Abu Baker Salim, the father of Khaleeji music. 

READ MORE: Three MoUs signed at opening day of Joy Forum19 in Riyadh

Drunken master

The actors expressed what it meant to be movie stars and how wide-reaching their influence could be.

Jackie Chan recalled that when he was a new actor, he often acted like a drunken fighter until he realized that he has a responsibility towards younger fans. 

Jackie Chan: no longer a "drunken master". (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

“All over the world I keep drinking and fighting (in films).  I realized that I made drunken master cool — so I stopped,” he said. One of Chan's most popular movies was the 1978 action comedy martial arts film "Drunken Master".

“When you’re 20 you don’t have this inner thought — anything that makes the audience laugh you do, but later on especially (when I went) to Africa so many years ago — they started doing the drunken style — the children look up to me. So, I realized we have a responsibility to the children so all those years I corrected those actions: no dirty comedy words or action,” he said.

He attributed his awareness in being responsible for the content he produces to the fans. “I’m really thankful to the fans in making me a good actor.”

Chan spoke about his experience in acting martial arts in both the United States and Asia. “I realized we have two different markets one for America another for Asia. They are totally two different things.”

The safety measures the US takes for stunts is very impeccable making sure of the wellbeing of the actor comes first. However, in Asia it’s a different story, “In Asia when I want to do a stunt, I roll, jump (and then go to the) hospital, he said laughingly.

“It’s so difficult sometimes in the USA so many rules- Jackie Chan movies: NO RULES!” he said and received applause from the audience.


Good start

Jean Claude Van Damme gave a shout out and a big thank you to all his “brother and sisters from Saudi Arabia,” He said he got a royal treatment fit for “Kings and Queens”. He went on to reveal that his hotel room at the Ritz Carlton Riyadh was so big he could easily “roller-skate” in it.

Jean Claude Van Damme: "Let's do a movie together". (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

“I’m honored to be invited here. I know it’s your first time to do this event, but I know it will have a very bright future and I hope next year you will invite more people,” he said.

He said he may not be a “good talker” but expressed his joy at being in Saudi Arabia saying. “I’m happy to be here and I hope to have more connection later with the audience.”

Van Damme remarked how that in every country in the world you have treasure actors and movies with different cultures, “In the Middle East I don’t know what the taste will be, but I know they love American, Asian and Indian movies. They have a broad taste. (Saudi Arabia) should do a movie with all of us together!”


Crossing barriers

Sharukh Khan emphasized the importance of every country telling their story through movies; “As long as we are telling the story in whatever language it doesn’t matter. Cinema crosses all barriers.”

Shahrukh Khan: "I'd audition for a Saudi movie". (AN photo by Noor Nugali)

With the opening of Saudi Arabia to the world and Cinemas, he said, “I can’t wait to talk about the Saudi films...It will bring Saudis closer to the world and the world closer to Saudi.”

“The stories that you tell should talk about goodness and people should be engaged with the content and it should bring them together. People want to laugh and sadly have to cry, to be entertained and to feel.”

Sharukh noted that Saudi Arabia has started to make movies and he’s watched the King Faisal movie, "Born a King". 

“You’ll always find gems in all movie industries and I think there’s are gems in Saudi and as a matter of fact one of the things I’d like to do is audition for a Saudi movie … Please give me an opportunity!” he said, eliciting a thunderous applause from the audience.

Red carpet

Abdulaziz AlMuzaini, co-founder and CEO of the Saudi Arabian Myrkott Animation Studio; gave a heartfelt thanks full of gratitude to King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying: “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have dreamed of this moment or this panel.”

Some of the celebrities invited to the event walk the red carpet. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

Lebanese actor Wahid Jalal, who was the voice of Long John Silver in Treasure Island, came onstage for the opening of the event. “Children love heroes and they try to imitate them,” he said. 

He also delighted the crowd by performing Silver’s famous laugh.

Some of the celebrities who walked down the red carpet were American actor Jason Momoa, star of Aquaman; Amr Adeeb, Balqis Fathi, Yusra, Boosy Shalabi, Lojien and Aseel Omran, Mohammed Hamaki, Nawal AlZoghbi, Talal Salama, Ahlam Al-Shamsi, Hussain AlJismi, Suad Abdulla, Ibrahem Alharbi, Tariq Alali and Abdulnaser Darweesh.

The gala dinner hosted 500 guests and was a private event, but the red carpet captured the essence of where Saudi is moving to culturally.