Heba Qadi, Saudi entrepreneur

Heba Qadi
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Updated 21 January 2020

Heba Qadi, Saudi entrepreneur

  • Qadi started her career at Al-Rajhi Bank from 2007 to 2009 as a relationship manager
  • Qadi is an active writer, and was a columnist for Makkah newspaper for years

Heba Qadi is co-founder and general manager of the Update Idea Generator Co., a Jeddah-based management consulting company founded in 2016.
She has years of experience with the private and public sectors. She was the main speaker at a discussion event in Jeddah on Sunday titled “Writing with Colored Ink,” organized by the Saudi Culture and Art Society.
The discussion was directed by Dr. Iman Ashgar, a member of the society’s board. Qadi discussed writing as a profession and the lines between creativity and realism.
She received her bachelor’s degree in English from Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah. She later obtained her Executive Master of Business Administration from Hult International Business School in the US.
Qadi started her career at Al-Rajhi Bank from 2007 to 2009 as a relationship manager. In 2009, she moved to the National Commercial Bank as a branch manager until 2010. From 2010 to 2012, Qadi was an English teacher at King Abdul Aziz University.
She is an active writer, and was a columnist for Makkah newspaper for years. She is also a life coach and motivational speaker.
Qadi has participated in many conferences, and has spoken at numerous universities such as Effat, Umm Al-Qura, King Abdul Aziz and Al-Battarjee Medical College. She has spoken at TEDx, a local gathering where live TED-like talks and performances are shared with the community, and at CYC, an annual forum that highlights job opportunities for Saudi youth. Her Twitter handle is @HebaKadi.


Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province feels very American, says US consul general

US Consul General Rachna Korhonen finds the diwaniya and majlis culture of the Eastern Province fascinating. (Supplied)
Updated 25 February 2020

Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province feels very American, says US consul general

  • Saudi hospitality wins the heart of diplomat who considers Kingdom one of her favorite destinations

DAMMAM: The US consul general in Dhahran, Rachna Korhonen, lists the Kingdom as one of her favorite places and is in love with the local culture and traditions.

Working in the Kingdom since 2017, she has been impressed by the tremendous changes taking place in Saudi Arabia under Vision 2030.
Arab News caught up with Korhonen to discuss all things American and Saudi.
“As US Ambassador Abizaid has said, the US-Saudi partnership is more vital than ever, particularly as we confront regional security challenges and work hand-in-hand to achieve shared economic and political objectives.”
This relationship is strong and multifaceted, she said, adding: “We work together every day to promote prosperity and economic development, protect the security of our two countries, and build the people-to-people ties that keep our relationship strong.”
She said that a posting to Saudi Arabia was her first choice for an assignment.
“I did not know at the time that I would be the first woman to serve as the US consul general in Dhahran. I really wanted to learn about energy! I was pretty nervous and somewhat scared, but also excited and enthusiastic. I spent three years in Riyadh and some time in Kuwait and Iraq so I had a pretty good understanding of the region.”
Korhonen speaks highly of the Saudi hospitality and the way people welcomed her.
“I came (to the Kingdom) just before Eid Al-Adha. It is a tradition that the consul general makes Eid calls to visit prominent families. I was lucky enough to meet people from the very first moment I arrived. I have always made an effort to get to meet people at different occasions. Saudis have welcomed me into their homes, shared meals and traditions with me. I really have the best job in the best place at the best time,” she told Arab News.

Saudis have welcomed me into their homes, shared meals and traditions with me.

Rachna Korhonen, US consul general

Korhonen said she finds the diwaniya and majlis culture of the Eastern Province fascinating.
“I enjoy meeting new people and learning about what is happening in the Eastern Province. Diwaniyas are a great place to do that. I also love gahwa (Arabic coffee) and dates,” she said.
Korhonen said the Eastern Province feels very American to her. She thinks this is partly due to the close relationship enjoyed by the countries since the 1930s, which began with Aramco and also because thousands of Saudis from the Eastern Province have studied in the US.
Commenting on the social transformation in the Kingdom under Vision 2030, she said: “I still remember very well the first game I attended in Saudi Arabia. It was a very hot and humid day in August, but I wanted to be in attendance to show support for the Eastern Province teams. There was a big crowd and the energy in the stadium was amazing. At that game, I was the only woman in the family section. Now, it completely feels normal to see entire Saudi families in the stands. I could be anywhere in the world at a sporting event. It’s such a huge change.”
She told Arab News that “there have been no recent changes” in the US visa process, adding: “We have visa appointments most weeks from Sunday to Thursday. We encourage everyone interested in going to the US this summer to start thinking about applying now, since we expect demand will grow as we approach the summer season.
“We continue to look for ways to reduce the amount of time a person spends in our waiting room, the wait for visa appointments (especially for students), and the time it takes for someone to get their passport back with the visa.”
She said her favorite initiative that brings Saudis and Americans together is the International Leadership Program.
“The consulate also works with local Saudi partners to bring American athletes, musicians, entrepreneurs, artists and other experts to the Eastern Province to exchange ideas and explore ways to collaborate. Our EducationUSA office helps Saudi students who are interested in studying in the US learn about US universities, the admission process and how to prepare for their educational experience,” the consul general said.