JEDDAH: Saudi medical scientist Dr. Hayat Sindi’s prestige role as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador has been extended for another two years by the organization’s director general, Audrey Azoulay.
Makkah-born Sindi was given the title in recognition of her work to create an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and social innovation for scientists, technologists, and engineers in the Middle East and around the world.
Sindi was the first woman from the Gulf to obtain a Ph.D. in biotechnology from the University of Cambridge and was one of the first female members of the Saudi Shoura Council.
In addition, she co-founded and co-invented Diagnostics for All — a program to create affordable diagnostic devices for millions of people in impoverished regions — alongside a team from Harvard University.
In 2008, Sindi led the Diagnostics for All team to first place in Harvard Business School’s business plan contest, the social enterprise track, and also won MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship Competition in the same year — becoming the only team to take top spot in both competitions in the same year.
She founded the i2 Institute that aims to empower and inspire the next generation of innovators to realize their dreams and contribute to the world. She also invented a low-cost diagnostic tool for early detection of breast cancer by converting light into sound, and holds nine patents.
It was an acknowledgement of the 52-year-old biotechnology research expert’s efforts to bring youth closer to innovators, promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, and for her dedication to the ideals and aims of UNESCO.
In 2017, Sindi was appointed chief scientific adviser to the president of the Islamic Development Bank and has since put science, technology, and innovation at the heart of bank’s work in driving economic growth and sustainable development.
Sindi was selected as one of Newsweek’s 150 Women Who Shake the World, was ranked second by Forbes on a list of the most powerful Arab women in Saudi Arabia and was again selected by Newsweek, and The Daily Beast, as one of 150 fearless women. In 2018, she was named by the BBC among the 100 most inspiring and influential women in the world.
In 2015, she was appointed as an honorary adviser to the UN Environment Program for the Eye on Earth Summit and the following year joined a 10-member group supporting the technological facilitation mechanism for sustainable development goals.
Recently, Sindi was appointed by the G20 as global ambassador for the health and development partnership of the group.