Inspirational Saudi women offer sage advice to recent graduates entering the workforce

Inspirational Saudi women offer sage advice to recent graduates entering the workforce
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Hajar Alnaim. (Supplied)
 Reema Juffali is the first Saudi female professional racing driver to win an international motor race. (Instagram/reemajuffali)
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Reema Juffali is the first Saudi female professional racing driver to win an international motor race. (Instagram/reemajuffali)
Inspirational Saudi women offer sage advice to recent graduates entering the workforce
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Reema Juffali is the first Saudi female professional racing driver to win an international motor race. (Instagram/reemajuffali)
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Updated 17 July 2023
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Inspirational Saudi women offer sage advice to recent graduates entering the workforce

Inspirational Saudi women offer sage advice to recent graduates entering the workforce
  • ‘Vision 2030 has turned everything around,’ says Saudi motor sports pioneer Reema Juffali

RIYADH: Saudi women have time and again defied all odds with tenacity, carving niches for themselves across different fields since the country’s establishment.

From Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman, adviser to her brother King Abdulaziz, to Rayyanah Barnawi, the first Saudi woman to go to space, to Mishaal Ashemimry, the first female aerospace engineer in the Gulf Cooperation Council — the list is impressive and growing.

Some inspiring and resilient Saudi women spoke to Arab News to share their thoughts and offer sage advice to young Saudi graduates who are all set to enter the workforce.




Nouf Alosaimi. (Supplied)

“Take a chance and believe in yourself,” said Reema Juffali, the first Saudi female professional racing driver to win an international motor race.

With the driving ban in the Kingdom lifted in 2018, a realm of possibilities for women was unveiled, but with change came great uncertainty.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Hajar Al-Naim’s Studio Production Training is backed by the Saudi Cultural Fund.

• Hawazen Al-Hassoun, PwC’s Middle East COO, oversees all internal services for more than 2,000 employees in six offices around the Kingdom.

• Professional racing driver Reema Juffali was on BBC’s 100 Women list of inspiring and influential women around the world in 2022.

Juffali, who earned a spot on BBC’s 100 Women list of inspiring and influential women around the world last year, said: “The challenges have been more to do with self-belief, especially when things seemed to be not going my way. I’ve had to remind myself to be patient and trust the process to achieve my long-term goals.”




Nouf Al-Osaimi dived 105 meters in Jeddah’s Red Sea. (Supplied)

Women across the country are entering male-dominated fields and “intimidation is there when you’re around people who’ve been doing this for so many years.”

Women were first allowed into government spaces in 2011 following a royal decree by King Abdullah, who appointed 30 women to the Shoura Council.

“Vision 2030 has turned everything around. It’s not just opened new doors, but new horizons. Women in particular have now taken up jobs that they hadn’t had the opportunity to explore in the past,” Juffali said.




Hawazen Al-Hassoun, PwC’s Middle East COO

In the corporate world, PwC’s Middle East Chief Operating Officer Hawazen Al-Hassoun has made it her mission to create a work environment pillared by inclusion and diversity.

“This means creating an environment where employees have equal opportunities for career development and even equal pay in a culture that fosters respect to all,” Al-Hassoun told Arab News.

As the first woman to take up the position, she oversees all internal services for more than 2,000 employees in six offices around the Kingdom and focuses on implementing operational excellence, driving business process efficiency, and executing on strategic goals.




Inspiring the next generation of saudi women, Rayyanah Barnawi is the first saudi woman to go to space.

Bringing Vision 2030 to life, this year the regional headquarters welcomed 190 new graduates, all Saudi nationals — 50 percent of whom were women. They have also launched an on-the-job training program in AlUla that leverages the global consultancy’s collective industry expertise and aims to provide hands-on professional experience to fresh Saudi graduates.

Al-Hassoun, who grew up in a family that values equal opportunities, feels that “gender bias is still an issue. However, by speaking up and seeking out support, women can overcome these challenges and achieve success in their careers.”

The world needs more female leaders who contribute their skills and vision to the table. Ultimately, the path to success is never a straight line. Each one of us has their own unique journey. But always remember, don’t give up on your dreams.

Hawazen Al-Hassoun, PwC’s Middle East COO

According to a report published by the firm, 40 percent of working-age women within Saudi Arabia and GCC countries are employed, and fewer than 20 percent of all senior managers are females.

The type of cultural shift that would see more women in leadership positions involves a number of considerations. It is a transitional change, Al-Hassoun says, which will also require an agenda for diversity to be pushed more broadly across the workforce.

Women face a number of barriers that vary from managing work-life commitments to accessing training and development. There is also a lack of career opportunities and advancement.




A large number of scuba diving centers can be found in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)

“Businesses need to embed diversity strategies for the entire career lifecycle, setting diversity key performance indicators to ensure fair assessments for women and reinforcing supportive workplace cultures. It’s also a critical step for employers to effectively attract, recruit, and retain talented young women,” Al-Hassoun said.

She suggests that businesses take steps like providing top mentorship and sponsorship, peer support groups, access to female leaders and role models, flexible work hours and paid leave, and equitable compensation processes.

NUMBER

105m

Nouf Al-Osaimi dived 105 meters in Jeddah’s Red Sea, the deepest depth achieved by a woman in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Hassoun said: “I want young women to understand the opportunities and career paths that are currently available to them. It is important with the consistent changes that are circling the Kingdom for young women to be aware and educated on what they are able to achieve and obtain.”

To young graduates, she emphasized the uniqueness of their individual perspectives: “The world needs more female leaders who contribute their skills and vision to the table. Ultimately, the path to success is never a straight line. Each one of us has their own unique journey. But always remember, don’t give up on your dreams.”

Many of the female change-makers were first and foremost driven by passion. For filmmaker Hajar Al-Naim, co-founder and executive producer at production house MTHEC and cofounder of Studio Production Training, her hope was to change lives.

As a student abroad at Loyola Marymount University, before the Kingdom established the Film Commission under the Ministry of Culture, it was clear that talents at home were lacking proper training.

“It wasn’t easy for a lot of guys to learn about filmmaking, so it was extra hard for me to learn about that in Saudi Arabia … That experience that I had in Los Angeles, I wanted to give it back to our talents in Saudi Arabia,” she told Arab News.

SPT, backed by the Saudi Cultural Fund, has recently launched The Studio program, which seeks to educate talent and provide fellow filmmakers with support throughout the production process.

Similarly, Saudi scuba instructor Nouf Al-Osaimi saw the discrepancy in the water sports industry.

Al-Osaimi first dived into the Red Sea in 2008 and instantly became mesmerized by its beauty and the richness of life teeming there. She began exploring the field and gained more experience, becoming an open-water diver and advancing to rescue and dive master.

In 2011, she graduated from the UK with a degree in tourism management.

“We didn’t even have tourism in Saudi Arabia at the time,” she told Arab News. “I do what I love and what makes me fulfilled. I don’t do things for the community, or society, or anyone — I do it for myself. When you do things for yourself, you go to places that you’ve never thought of.”

While she was working in Egypt after graduation, she said she was not taken seriously by her colleagues. “But I believed it was for me, which is why I pushed (for it),” Al-Osaimi said.

“The first challenge was that I wasn’t able to go on a boat without a guardian, so I was limited to small beaches. I had to be low-profile, and the community was dominated by men back then, so I had to be careful.”

From a societal aspect, the industry itself was not taken seriously. But Al-Osaimi overcame these challenges and slowly reached higher ranks, working at the diving center in a five-star hotel in Sharm El Sheikh.

After deciding it was time to come home and share her expertise locally, she became the first Saudi female technical diver, diving 105 meters in Jeddah’s Red Sea, the deepest distance achieved by a woman in the country.

She then founded the Red Sea Citizen Dive club to raise awareness about the diving field in the region, and Pink Bubbles Divers, a community-based group to empower women in the field, and held the first global PADI Women Dive Day in Saudi Arabia in 2017. She is now an AmbassaDiver for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.

This year, she delivered the opening speech at the World Economic Forum, asking world leaders to protect the coral reefs in the Red Sea. She was also invited as a speaker at the Ocean’s Dinner event organized by the Saudi UNESCO delegation in Paris.

She said: “Finally, I can change people’s lives the same way diving changed mine … I dedicated my life to the thing I love most, even though it wasn’t something necessarily accepted in society.”

Al-Osaimi now captains her own boats, in a sign that bodes well for Saudi women as they set sail for new horizons.

 


Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris

Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris
Updated 20 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris

Saudi Arabia takes part in 3rd annual international Camel Parade in Paris
  • This year’s event celebrates decision by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to designate 2024 as International Year of Camelids
  • Saudi representatives will highlight role of the Kingdom in promoting the value of camels as a cultural symbol associated with Saudi society since ancient times

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is taking part in a special Camel Parade in France on Saturday, in celebration of the UN’s designation of 2024 as International Year of Camelids.

The event in Paris has been organized by the French Federation for the Development of Camelids in France and Europe, under the umbrella of the International Camel Organization, and is sponsored by the Saudi Ministry of Culture and the Kingdom’s Camel Club.

This is the third year in which the event has taken place.  The event was first held in January 2019 and repeated in 2022.  

The participants in the parade of camels, llamas, alpacas and other members of the camelid family of creatures are expected to include more than 50 representatives of camel-related organizations from more than 30 countries, along with camel breeders, government officials, others with an interest in the animals, and entertainers from various branches of the performing arts.

The camelids family. (Shutterstock image)

In addition to Saudi Arabia, the countries that will be represented include the US, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Canada, India, Morocco, Tanzania, Peru, Algeria, the Czech Republic, Pakistan, Tunisia, Austria, Spain, Burundi, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritania, France, Sudan, Chad, Angola, the UK and Uganda.

Saudi representatives will highlight the role of the Kingdom in promoting the value of camels as a cultural symbol that has been associated with Saudi society since ancient times and “still enjoys great prestige,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

On Friday, the eve of the parade, public discussions took place at the Chateau de Janvry’s historical center about cultural heritage associated with camels around the world and the specific contributions by participating countries to the annual event in Paris.

The parade will be followed by a reception for invited guests, including representatives of the participating countries, international organizations, academia, research centers and the private sector, the SPA reported.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization named 2024 as International Year of Camelids to honor and promote the sector and highlight the important role it plays in efforts to achieve food security and economic growth in many countries.

 

 


Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan’s top military officials in Islamabad

Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan’s top military officials in Islamabad
Updated 20 April 2024
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Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan’s top military officials in Islamabad

Saudi assistant defense minister holds talks with Pakistan’s top military officials in Islamabad

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s assistant minister of defense, Talal Al-Otaibi, on Friday held talks with top officials from the Pakistan Army during an official visit to Islamabad.

He reviewed relations between the two countries during meetings with the commander of the army, Gen. Syed Asim Munir, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza, and the chief of the general staff, Gen. Muhammad Avais Dastgir.

The Saudi-Pakistani Committee also met during Al-Otaibi’s visit. Its members discussed cooperation between the nations in the field of defense, including research and development, and the transfer and localization of technology, in line with the goals of Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development and diversification plan.


How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda

How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda
Updated 20 April 2024
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How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda

How the adoption of electric vehicles is driving Saudi Arabia’s green agenda
  • Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund wants to produce half a million electric vehicles by 2030
  • The Kingdom has installed charging outlets in public areas in Diriyah to encourage EV ownership

RIYADH: Around the world, electric vehicles are already revolutionizing leisure, public transportation and logistics, shrinking the carbon footprint of travel, improving air quality and reducing pollution in the air, on land and in the sea.

As Saudi Arabia embarks on a range of environmental initiatives designed to address the challenges posed by climate change and foster sustainable economic development, EVs have become an important focus area.

The shift from traditional combustion engine vehicles to new electric models has accelerated worldwide as companies and consumers opt for greener modes of transport. Saudi Arabia is no exception.

Saudia, the Kingdom's national flag carrier, has signed an arrangement to acquire 100 electric-powered jets from Lilium, developer of the first all-electric vertical take-off and landing (“eVTOL”) jet. (Supplied)

The transition from regular cars to electric vehicles in the Kingdom is flourishing. The EV trend has gone beyond personal vehicle ownership, with the proliferation of everything from e-scooters to electric buses.

There are even discussions around whether EV technology will soon be applied to aircraft and perhaps space travel.

Stephen Crolius, former climate adviser at the Clinton Foundation and current president of Carbon-Neutral Consulting, supports the idea of EV ownership due to its environmental benefits.

Although it might still be a challenge to educate the public in some societies about the benefits of transitioning to EVs, Crolius says the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

“For mass transition to occur on any front, there has to be a set of circumstances that cause it to happen,” he told Arab News.

“Through government encouragement, we can continue to build volume (and) cause industries to mature, like, for example, the battery industry, which has done a lot of maturing over the last 15 years … the cost of batteries and the prices of batteries have come down to an extraordinary degree.

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“We are developing renewable generation for electricity. Are we developing fast enough to head off the climate crisis? I don’t know. But compared to new generations of technology getting rolled out, we are deploying a lot of renewable electricity generation, in historical terms, really fast.”

Companies such as CEER and Lucid, which are heavily funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, are at the forefront of driving growth in Saudi Arabia’s electric vehicle industry.

US electric car manufacturer Lucid signed a contract with the PIF two years ago to build a factory in the King Abdullah Economic City on the Red Sea. Today, PIF shares a little over half of the ownership of the group in the Kingdom, and aims to produce almost half a million EVs by 2030.

Since last year, the use of electric vehicles in the Kingdom has expanded to include electric buses as a sustainable alternative to traditional fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

Electric buses have zero emissions and therefore significantly reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases in urban areas, especially during the Hajj season, when pilgrims flock to the Kingdom and make use of its mass transit network.

An electric bus service connecting the airport to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah was launched by the region’s governor Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz during the last Hajj season.

DID YOUKNOW

• The Kingdom has invested at least $10 billion in US electric car manufacturer Lucid Motors.

• With 61% of shares, Saudi Arabia is the majority owner of Lucid Group through its Public Investment Fund.

• PIF aims to produce 500,000 EVs annually by 2030.

• In Riyadh, the EV share is targeted to increase by 30% in 2030.

The route connecting the two locations enabled high operational efficiency, with a bus able to travel 250 km on just a single charge.

Electric buses offer a variety of benefits, including reduced noise, improved energy efficiency and lower maintenance costs. In addition, they have a smaller carbon footprint, which is a crucial step toward sustainability.

Saudis committed to protecting the environment have also included EVs in their daily commute, with e-scooters now found in Riyadh and other cities. E-scooters provide an eco-friendly solution to local transport by cutting toxic emissions and lowering noise pollution.

Offering e-scooter services in various locations in Riyadh is a clear sign of the Kingdom’s eagerness to not only set regulations and promote electric vehicles, but also lead society in adopting a positive attitude toward sustainable living.

Gazal's e-scooter services have become a popular option for those traveling specially in crowded places in Riyadh. (Photo courtesy of Gazal)

Furthermore, with advancements in battery technology and the development of charging infrastructure, electric vehicles are becoming a viable option for companies aiming to decarbonize their operations.

For example, in public areas in Diriyah such as Albujairi and At-Turaif, standard wall outlets are available for EV owners to charge their vehicles while enjoying a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site.

As the aviation industry is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions, the concept of electric aircraft may offer a promising solution to global decarbonization.

Three years ago, British automobile maker Rolls-Royce broke records when its “Spirit of Innovation” aircraft reached 628 km per hour, making it the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle.

At the time, Warren East, the company’s then-CEO, said that electric aircraft could make “jet zero” a reality and help decarbonize all forms of transport.

Compared to existing commercial aircraft, which rely on petroleum and synthetic fuel blends, electric planes produce less noise, have lower operating costs and emit significantly fewer greenhouse gases.

However, there are still several obstacles to the widespread adoption of electric aircraft — in particular the sheer expense of adapting the existing infrastructure needed to support their use.

Though governments and private companies worldwide could collaborate and build a comprehensive network of charging stations to meet growing demand, this may burden the economies of some countries.

Nevertheless, the growing importance of electric vehicles beyond cars, such as buses, electric scooters and airplanes, holds great promise for a decarbonized future.

The growing importance of electric vehicles beyond cars, such as buses, electric scooters and airplanes, holds great promise for a decarbonized future. (Shutterstock photo)

Utilizing alternative sources of energy in these areas can change the carbon emissions game for the better, fight air pollution, and pave the way for sustainable transport systems in the Kingdom and around the world.

To realize the full potential of electric vehicles, however, governments and businesses will first have to address challenges such as the provision of sufficient charging infrastructure as well as range limitations in battery technology.

Through continued innovation and investment, electric vehicles will play a key role in creating a greener and more sustainable future.
 

 


Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist

Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist
Updated 19 April 2024
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Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist

Art is ‘translating feelings,’ says 16-year-old Saudi artist
  • Jawad Al-Omair has established himself as a painter, drawing inspiration from the beauty and pain surrounding him

RIYADH: While his classmates took part in sports activities, Saudi teenage artist Jawad Al-Omair daydreamed about the next time he would pick up a paintbrush or pencil to draw again.

At only 16 years of age, Al-Omair has established himself as an artist, drawing inspiration from the beauty and pain surrounding him.

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

He told Arab News that his breakthrough moment came when he discovered his artistic abilities in the third grade.

“All the kids used to go to play. I always found myself opening my notebook and just drawing. I remember one day, I drew something at school, and when I got home, I showed it to everyone. I told myself, ‘I should do this more often.’”

HIGHLIGHT

Jawad Al-Omair views color as an arsenal to communicate emotion in his artworks.

He uses acrylic paint to portray his vivid ideas on canvas.

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

“With every painting I do, I usually have a vision of what the color palette is going to be and the composition, and most importantly what message and feeling I am trying to deliver through the painting.”

The young artist views color as an arsenal to communicate emotion in his artworks. “If I wanted to paint something that conveys the feeling of being lost, I would usually use cool toned colors like greys and blues.”

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

Al-Omair said that he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks.

“Dana Almasoud is one of my best friends who has helped me so much. Three years ago, I used to be a completely different artist. I used to be unable to draw small portraits, but she taught me how to. I can’t picture how my life would be if I had not met them,” he said.

Jawad Al-Omair said he noticed a dramatic change in his artistic abilities after being introduced to a group of local artists who taught him painting techniques to implement in his artworks. (Supplied)

In a recent artwork, Al-Omair painted a large-scale self-portrait inspired by the style of John Singer Sargent, an American artist renowned for his portrait paintings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

He described Sargent as one of his favorite artists. “If you see his self-portrait, It is similar to mine. I was looking at his artwork while I was painting so I could capture that same vibe.”

It took Al-Omair about 12 hours to complete the self-portrait, which emphasizes his prominent features.

“I get commented on my nose a lot, so I painted it in the center. I wanted to immortalize my 16-year-old self, because who knows what I will look like five years from now?”

The young artist aims to turn all sorts of experiences — even those of friends or family members — into art.

“How would life be if we did not have music or anything beautiful to look at? When you think of an artist, people usually imagine someone with a brush, but it is much bigger than that.

“Art is translating feelings with a certain skill. Movies taught humanity so much because you get to learn about people. Writing, songs and music are emotional things that we share. Art is one of the most important parts of life. Everyone has an artistic side to them that they may have not found yet,” he said.

 


Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Updated 19 April 2024
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Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Saudi development fund agrees $50m loan deal with St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Funding will help rebuild and repair facilities damaged by natural disasters in the Caribbean island nation

RIYADH: The Saudi Fund for Development signed a $50 million loan agreement with St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday to assist communities affected by natural disasters, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The deal was signed by SFD CEO Sultan Abdulrahman Al-Marshad and Camillo Gonsalves, finance minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, during the 2024 spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington.

According to the World Bank, the southern Caribbean nation faces a host of natural threats, including floods, hurricanes, droughts, landslides, and volcanic eruptions.

The agreement will fund a project to rebuild and repair buildings and facilities damaged by natural disasters in the island nation.

This initiative includes the restoration and construction of essential infrastructure, such as housing, healthcare, educational, and sports facilities, aimed at boosting their durability and resilience against future disasters and climate change impacts.

The project will also include establishing four healthcare centers, building primary and secondary schools, renovating government buildings, and restoring homes damaged by volcanic activity.

The loan is in line with the SFD’s commitment to supporting vulnerable communities around the globe.

Since its inception in 1975, the Saudi fund has financed over 800 development projects and programs worldwide, with total funding exceeding $20 billion.