Meet Shihana Alazzaz, the PIF executive making Saudi women proud

Meet Shihana Alazzaz, the PIF executive making Saudi women proud
Shihana Alazzaz's senior position on the PIF was guaranteed - she had to fight to get to where she is today. (Supplied)
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Updated 08 February 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.


Precautions urged even after vaccination

Precautions urged even after vaccination
The number of Saudis and expats who have received the COVID-19 vaccine has reached 780,667. (SPA)
Updated 29 min 12 sec ago

Precautions urged even after vaccination

Precautions urged even after vaccination
  • Health chiefs say COVID-19 vaccine does not undermine immunity

JEDDAH: The Saudi health authorities have reassured the public that any mild symptoms people may experience after receiving the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is not a sign that their immunity has been affected.

“A person’s immunity is not undermined by taking the vaccine,” said Dr. Fahad Al-Zamil, a Saudi infectious diseases consultant, in a phone interview with Al-Youm TV show on Al Ekhbariya channel.
“What happens to people after taking the vaccination is that they experience some mild symptoms such as a cold, fever, and they assume that the vaccination reduced their immunity,” he explained. “The main goal of vaccinations is to enhance immunity, not reduce it.”
The consultant also stressed even after taking the vaccine people needed to adhere to precautionary measures, such as social distancing and wearing a mask.
Al-Zamil said that the COVID-19 vaccine is similar to other vaccinations, such as that of influenza.
“Vaccines, God willing, are a powerful weapon in protecting lives,” said Health Ministry’s spokesperson Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly describing the vaccine as “highly safe and effective.”
The Ministry of Health on Monday reported 317 new cases, meaning that 377,700 people have now contracted the disease since the beginning of the outbreak. Of these, 2,560 remain active, 492 of them in critical condition.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Kingdom on Monday reported 317 new cases.

• 335 patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the total to 368,640 recoveries.

• Saudi Arabia reported six more virus-related deaths on Monday.

According to the ministry, 142 of the newly recorded cases were in the Riyadh region, 72 in the Eastern Province, 45 in the Makkah region and seven in the Madinah region.
In addition, 335 patients had recovered from the disease, bringing the total to 368,640 recoveries.
Saudi Arabia reported six more virus-related deaths on Monday. The death toll now stands at 6,500.
The Kingdom has so far conducted 13,680,202 PCR tests, with 47,125 carried out in the past 24 hours.
Saudi health clinics set up by the ministry as testing hubs or treatment centers have helped hundreds of thousands of people around the Kingdom since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Among those testing hubs are Taakad (make sure) centers and Tetamman (rest assured) clinics.
Taakad centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual, while the Tetamman clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms, such as fever, loss of taste and smell and breathing difficulties.
Appointments to both services can be made through the ministry’s Sehhaty app.
Saudis and expats in the Kingdom continue to receive their doses of the vaccine, which they registered for through the ministry’s app.
The number of those who received the COVID-19 vaccine stands at 780,667 people so far.


Meet the Saudi volunteers saving lives across the Gulf

Meet the Saudi volunteers saving lives across the Gulf
Barq provides rescue and safety training to all its recruits, including basic first aid, in addition to the several awareness campaigns they provide to the public on a regular basis. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 35 min 14 sec ago

Meet the Saudi volunteers saving lives across the Gulf

Meet the Saudi volunteers saving lives across the Gulf
  • The Barq Rescue Team are the people to call if you are stranded in the outdoors

RIYADH: With camping season in full swing across the Kingdom many Saudi families are taking the opportunity to engage in fun COVID-friendly activities.

Desert camping (or kashtas, as they’re colloquially known), hiking trips, and other outdoorsy activities are taking place all over the country.
However, due to the nature of these activities, the likelihood of accidents tends to increase, especially among first-timers or otherwise inexperienced outdoorsmen.
Fortunately, a group of dedicated volunteers is working tirelessly to ensure the safety of the Kingdom’s budding outdoor enthusiasts, allowing virtually anyone to dabble in those types of activities without fear.
Founded in 2017, the Barq (Arabic for “lightning”) Rescue Team is Saudi Arabia’s first accredited volunteer rescue team. Certified by the Saudi Civil Defense and the Ministry of Interior, the group is a member of both the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and the UN’s International Association for Voluntary Efforts.
Barq’s team leader, Talal Abdulghani, told Arab News that the team started off as an unofficial group of four-wheel drive vehicle owners who saw an opportunity to utilize their equipment for the greater good.
“We first had the idea to create the team during the 2017 flooding in Jeddah,” Abdulghani said. “Those of us with suitable cars that were fitted with off-roading equipment found ourselves able to help out, and we decided to make it an official team.”
What started off as a small group of volunteers quickly gained traction. Today, Barq has more than 950 volunteers spread out across the Kingdom, with members assisting stranded drivers all over the Gulf countries. And at least 120 of those members are women.

FASTFACTS

• Founded in 2017, the Barq Rescue Team is Saudi Arabia’s first accredited volunteer rescue team.

• Certified by the Saudi Civil Defense and the Ministry of Interior, the group is a member of both the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and the UN’s International Association for Voluntary Efforts.

“Every member of the team joined us out of passion and the desire to help others,” Abdulghani said, “We’re not getting paid, nor do we charge for our services, and all of us have day jobs. We volunteer out of a sense of duty to our country and community.”
Abdulghani told Arab News that one or two deaths tend to occur every month out in the desert, especially in remote locations or due to a lack of experience. Anyone stranded in the desert can call the 24-hour hotline to receive assistance from one of their team members, who will arrive on the site to help if they need to or can offer help over the phone or via WhatsApp.
“Considering the number of calls we get every day, sometimes we find it better to try to assist over the phone instead of heading to a location ourselves,” said Abdulghani. “That way, instead of just showing up and taking over, we give people a chance to learn from their mistakes with our guidance and prevent similar incidents in the future.”
However, Barq’s team is not only comprised of drivers; Abdulghani says that anyone can join up, provided they have something to offer.
“We have members who are doctors and paramedics, who can offer first aid in case we need to rescue someone who is injured, and mechanics who are able to fix cars that have broken down or stalled, or been damaged. We also have photographers, lawyers and so on,” he said.
Abdulghani said an interesting side effect of their work was that many of those rescued have been inspired to join the team themselves.
One of those people is Samaher Al-Qwasmi, who said: “I was taking a trip with my mother and brother to Khaleej Salman beach, and I ended up driving a little too close to the water. Eventually, I found myself stuck because it was so muddy, and I could feel the car sinking down into the mud,” she said.
Not knowing what to do, and with poor phone service, she contacted her uncle, who directed her to call Barq.
“They asked me a lot of questions about how many people we were, what our location was, whether or not we had food, and so on. They were very thorough about making sure we were safe, and that in turn made me feel safer,” she said.

Barq’s team is not only comprised of drivers. Anyone can join up, provided they have something to offer.

The team maintained contact until they were able to send someone to rescue them, sending four cars to help pull her vehicle out of the mud. Their efforts are something Al-Qwasmi appreciates so much more now that she has an idea of exactly how much work a rescue operation entails.
“There are so many people in the same situation at the same time. Just looking at our WhatsApp group now, there are 10 or more cases a day, and some rescues may require a lot of work,” she said.
“I joined because it’s something nice to do for the community. It feels good to give back, to be able to do good but also to help people become more aware of the existence of teams like ours,” she said. “We’re like one family; I don’t think anyone is doing this for the sake of the money or anything like that. Apart from the rescues, we also have events where we get together as a team and just hang out.”
Apart from their rescue operations, Barq also does community service work. Last May, Barq launched a campaign to distribute food and other essential items to quarantine sites across the Makkah region and the Eastern Province, helping residents stuck at home while also helping to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Barq provides rescue and safety training to all its recruits, including basic first aid, in addition to the several awareness campaigns they provide to the public on a regular basis.
Those interested in joining up as volunteers can register on the team’s website, https://barqrescue.org/


Promo released for joint Saudi-Japanese anime ‘The Journey’

Promo released for joint Saudi-Japanese anime ‘The Journey’
‘The Journey’ tells the story of Aws, a potter with a mysterious past who indulged in an epic battle in defense of his city. (SPA)
Updated 02 March 2021

Promo released for joint Saudi-Japanese anime ‘The Journey’

Promo released for joint Saudi-Japanese anime ‘The Journey’
  • A number of famous Arab actors have taken part in the Arabic version of the movie, including Nassar Al-Nassar, Abdo Chahine and Rasha Rizk

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Manga Productions has launched a promotional video for the first joint Saudi-Japanese anime film “The Journey.”
Film buffs will enjoy a unique multi-sensory experience through 4DX technology, which simulates the effects and conditions seen on screen.
The launch of the promotional video comes ahead of the renowned Berlin International Film Festival beginning March 1.
The promotional video will be featured on the social media platforms of Manga Production and Vox Cinemas.
“The Journey,” which is in pre-production, will be available in summer this year in cinemas in the Middle East and North Africa, and will be distributed in Japan by T-Joy Company.
CEO of Manga Productions Dr. Essam Bukhari said the film is directed and produced by a specialized team of Japanese experts and Saudi talents.
“The video will be featured in the region and worldwide to export our Saudi culture and historical stories from the Arabian Peninsula,” he added. “This will be the first of a number of videos that will be produced by Manga Productions and will be featured in cinemas in the Middle East and the world.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Launch comes ahead of Berlin International Film Festival on March 1.

• The promotional video will be featured on the social media platforms of Manga Production and Vox Cinemas.

Inspired by the history of the Arabian Peninsula and the ancient civilizations of the region, “The Journey” tells the story of Aws, a potter with a mysterious past who indulged in an epic battle in defense of his city.
It is a joint production with famous Japanese studio Toei Animation, and is directed by renowned international director Kobun Shizuno, who has directed anime hits including “Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle” and “Detective Conan.”
Manga Productions was keen to recruit well-known Japanese voice actors, such as Hiroshi Kamiya, Takaya Kuroda, Toru Furuya and others.
A number of famous Arab actors have taken part in the Arabic version of the movie, including Nassar Al-Nassar, Abdo Chahine and Rasha Rizk.
Manga Productions is a subsidiary of the Mohammed bin Salman Foundation, and is specialized in producing creative content through animations, video games and comics that target various social groups, both locally and internationally.

 


Who’s Who: Husameddin Al-Madani, CEO of Soudah Development Company

Who’s Who: Husameddin Al-Madani, CEO of Soudah Development Company
Husameddin Al-Madani
Updated 02 March 2021

Who’s Who: Husameddin Al-Madani, CEO of Soudah Development Company

Who’s Who: Husameddin Al-Madani, CEO of Soudah Development Company

Usameddin Al-Madani is CEO of Soudah Development Company (SDC), a closed joint stock company wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia.
With extensive experience in the public and private sectors, Al-Madani has significantly contributed to the development and advancement of the socioeconomic plans laid out in the Saudi Vision 2030.
Al-Madani is also a board member of several real estate projects being carried out under the PIF.
Prior to joining SDC, Al-Madani was a member of the G20 Saudi Secretariat executive leadership team, where he led the strategy development and execution of the international conferences designed to support the G20 Saudi presidency.
In 2015, he was appointed founding director-general of the National Center for Performance Measurement in Saudi Arabia.
He played a crucial role in the establishment and implementation of a performance measurement framework in the Kingdom.
From 2004 to 2011, Al-Madani held various technical and managerial positions at Saudi Aramco. During his tenure with the world’s top oil company, he participated in the development of its performance measurement and management platform and contributed to the restructuring of the company’s research and development strategy as a member of the corporate committee.
Al-Madani obtained a bachelor’s degree in computer science at the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in petroleum engineering/ unconventional gas resources at Texas A&M University.
He is a recipient of the 2010 Texas A&M Montgomery Prize and the International SPE Young Member Outstanding Service Award. Al-Madani also completed a general management program in strategy, business and leadership with Harvard Business School in 2016.


Saudi Arabia pledges $430m to UN's Yemen response

Saudi Arabia pledges $430m to UN's Yemen response
Updated 01 March 2021

Saudi Arabia pledges $430m to UN's Yemen response

Saudi Arabia pledges $430m to UN's Yemen response
  • Kingdom has provided support and assistance to millions of people in need
  • Saudi Arabia ranks among the top donor countries in providing humanitarian aid

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia on Monday pledged $430 million toward the UN’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), made the announcement during a virtual pledging conference co-hosted by Sweden and Switzerland.
“Because of its keenness to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, I am pleased to announce that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has pledged $430 million to support the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan 2021, to be implemented through UN agencies, international organizations, and local and regional NGOs,” Al-Rabeeah told the conference.
He said the Kingdom has provided support and assistance to millions of people in need and shares the goal of reducing the effects of the humanitarian crisis.
He added that Saudi Arabia ranks among the top donor countries in providing humanitarian aid regionally and internationally, particularly in Yemen.
“We are meeting today amidst the ongoing humanitarian crisis Yemen has already been facing, along with all the additional economic, health and political challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created there,” he said.
Al-Rabeeah said the Iran-backed Houthi militia had caused a major escalation of the crisis with a recent offensive in Marib governorate, which was a safe haven for internally displaced persons.
“The Houthi militia has also scaled up their terrorist actions to threaten neighboring countries,” Al-Rabeeah said.
He was referring to the increase in cross border attacks targeting civilian areas in Saudi Arabia.
“This requires a firm and resolute stand from the international community to protect the Yemeni people and to reach sustainable solutions that achieve security, stability and development for Yemen, and ultimately for the region and the world,” Al-Rabeeah said.
A total of $1.7 billion was pledged during the conference, out of $3.85 that the UN had appealed for.