Saudi ‘virus busters’ on fast track to global success 

Saudi ‘virus busters’ on fast track to global success 
The World Health Organization has praised the Kingdom’s approach, while many heads of state cited the Saudi example as a “success story” during the G20 leaders summit on Nov. 22.(AFP/File)
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Updated 02 December 2020

Saudi ‘virus busters’ on fast track to global success 

Saudi ‘virus busters’ on fast track to global success 
  • California latest state to praise Kingdom’s rapid-response strategy

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia’s efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus are gaining global attention after researchers across the Kingdom highlighted the success of a string of measures adopted in recent months.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in early March, the Kingdom has launched a range of health protocols that have reduced the number of infections from a high of approximately 5,000 in mid-June to only hundreds today.
The World Health Organization has praised the Kingdom’s approach, while many heads of state cited the Saudi example as a “success story” during the G20 leaders summit on Nov. 22.
A study published in the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal titled “Importance of early precautionary actions in avoiding the spread of COVID-19: Saudi Arabia as an example,” highlighted the effectiveness of the Kingdom’s efforts.
Speaking to Arab News, co-author Khalidah Alenzi said that the objective of the research was to measure the readiness of countries around the globe to deal with the pandemic.
The study, co-authored by Dr. Thamir Alshammari and Dr. Ali Altebainawi, was recently praised by Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, who said that he planned to use it — together with studies from France and Germany — as model for tougher restrictions in the state.
Alenzi, supervisor of the Ministry of Health’s Regional Center for Drug Information and Vigilance in Tabuk, said: “When the Californian governor presented Saudi Arabia as one of the best models for preventive and precautionary measures against the coronavirus, based on the research of the Saudi team, he shed light on only a tiny fraction of Saudi capabilities that have excelled in dealing with the pandemic.”
She said that the research team had shown that preventive and precautionary measures and health protocols had limited the number of deaths, despite criticism directed at these measures initially.
“We were surprised to find that we started early compared with other countries hit by the pandemic, especially those bordering China such as South Korea, and countries in East Asia,” Alenzi said.
“Based on this logic, we got the idea of carrying out independent research on Saudi Arabia to detect the cases of early reaction and present these as a model to be followed. In the beginning we thought of presenting comparative research with other countries such as Italy and France, but we discovered that data analysis would be marked by a huge difference.”
Alenzi said that the Kingdom’s initial measures faced criticism from some foreign experts for being too strict.
Critics had later “backtracked” after a spike in cases and the uncontrollable spread of the virus in their respective countries, she said.
“Had it not been for the extreme precautionary measures proposed by the research team, we never would have been able to avoid a second and third wave of the pandemic,” Alenzi said.
She said that countries such as Spain, where there are over 1.6 million confirmed cases and rising, have faced protests against measures adopted by their governments, and are now suffering from a second wave because of their failure to follow protocols set in place.
Residents of the Kingdom, in cooperation with the government and its institutions, were able to maintain control and have successfully controlled the spread of the pandemic. Saudi Arabia’s total confirmed cases are at 357,000, with less than 5,000 active cases as of Tuesday.
“This pandemic has proven the Kingdom’s highly capable and skilled cadres compared with European states. It has set an example with its ability to provide precautionary and treatment medicines to fight the pandemic,” she added.


Meet Shihana Alazzaz, the PIF executive making Saudi women proud

Meet Shihana Alazzaz, the PIF executive making Saudi women proud
Updated 25 January 2021

Meet Shihana Alazzaz, the PIF executive making Saudi women proud

Meet Shihana Alazzaz, the PIF executive making Saudi women proud
  • At 16 Shihana Alazzaz fought in the courts for her family's inheritance
  • She says she hopes her success can be seen by other women as motivation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s stance on women and their place in society remains firmly under the spotlight – with many questioning if anything has changed - that’s despite the countless female engineers, managers and boardroom directors that the Kingdom so proudly boasts of.

Still not convinced?

Then consider Shihana Alazzaz, the general counsel and Secretary-General to the board at the Public Investment Fund PIF – you might recognize her.

She was the woman sitting across from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he addressed a historic meeting on Sunday night.

Women’s status in Saudi society has been on the up since the launch of Vision 2030 in 2016, enabling them to pursue professions and positions of power they had only previously dreamt of – and Alazzaz’s story acts as a beacon of this achievement.

Impressed by her  credentials, many took to social media to voice their appreciation of her presence at the otherwise male-dominated table.

Twitter user @ibrahimaljallal described her as “An excellent model for Saudi women. Her competitiveness at work is the same as any man.”

Alazzaz first joined PIF as the head of transactions in the legal division in 2017.

She is now a member of the management committee at PIF, as well as other executive committees in the fund.

Alazzaz also chairs and serves on several boards and board committees of PIF portfolio companies. 

Her rise to success was not an easy one.

Her father’s death in 2002 saw her in the Saudi courts at just 16-years-old where - filled with grief – she fought for her family’s inheritance.

Armed with a handwritten note by her father, she fought long and hard to fulfill her father’s final wishes - that their guardian be her mother’s brother.

Despite her hardships, she refused to be a victim, instead choosing to chase her goals, pursue her education and make her life a success.

With her mother’s support she travelled to the UK, where she achieved her bachelor’s degree in law at Durham University.

Years later in 2019 the Kingdom’s guardianship laws saw a major overhaul as part of the ongoing Vision 2030.

The changes allowed Saudi women over 21 to be allowed to apply for passports and travel freely without the permission of a male guardian.

Other changes issued in the decrees permitted women to register a marriage, divorce, or child’s birth and to be issued official family documents – and most relevantly to Alazzaz – women were equally allowed to be their children’s guardian.

Alazzaz continued with her studies and achieved her license to practice law at the Supreme Court of New York and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Justice.

This in itself was major achievement as women lawyers were only allowed to be granted a license to practice from 2013 by the Ministry of Justice.

Non-conformity seems to have run in her family.

Her father, Saleh Alazzaz, chose an equally unconventional career path for a Saudi, as a photographer and author – both fields previously deemed taboo in the Kingdom - having dropped out of college where he was studying engineering.

He was diagnosed with cancer when he was 40-years-old – previously seen as a healthy man - his illness shocked the family – his death 18 months later left them devastated.

Saleh was celebrated for originality, his keen eye and passion - some of his most acclaimed pieces were conceived when he was ill.

Prior to joining PIF, Alazzaz was a practicing lawyer for nine years at various international law firms where she gained exposure to legal advisory services, transactions, and litigation across multiple sectors.

She has received recognition for her work locally, regionally and internationally.

She made Forbes Middle East’s 100 Most Powerful Women of 2020, and received multiple awards including Finance Monthly Deal Maker Awards 2016, and the Women in Business Law award presented by the International Financial Law Review (IFLR).

In an interview with KRCL RadioActive in 2017 Shihana said, “My role is to ensure that I’m not the only one. And to ensure that I encourage a lot of other females to pursue this convoluted path.”

 “I think we’ve accomplished quite a lot in a very short period of time,” she added.