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.

 


Eastern Province, Qassim, Riyadh brace for heavy downpours, hailstorms

Eastern Province, Qassim, Riyadh brace for heavy downpours, hailstorms
Updated 59 min 19 sec ago
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Eastern Province, Qassim, Riyadh brace for heavy downpours, hailstorms

Eastern Province, Qassim, Riyadh brace for heavy downpours, hailstorms
  • NCM forecast heavy rains, high-speed winds, hail storms in these regions on Tuesday
  • Schools closed, online classes in parts of Kingdom due to inclement weather

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will receive more rainfall on Tuesday with the Eastern Province, Al-Qassim region and the capital Riyadh and its outskirts likely to witness heavy rains, accompanied by high-speed winds, hail and subsequent lack of visibility, according to the forecast of the National Center of Meteorology.

The NCM forecast for Tuesday said: “There will be high speed wind, sandstorms followed by heavy rain and hailstorm in Qassim, Riyadh, Eastern Province, Northern Border region and Hail.

“Eastern Province, Qassim and Riyadh will record low temperatures, and there is a possibility of flash floods in these areas,” it added.

Hussein Al-Qahtani, spokesperson of the NCM, called for utmost caution and vigilance due to the weather fluctuations in these regions.

“Manifa in the Eastern Province exceeded 42 mm of rain within an hour, and the chances of rain continue in the affected areas. We call on everyone to be careful and monitor weather information across the center, given the weather fluctuations affecting the areas in the Kingdom,” said Al-Qahtani.

Following inclement weather, education authorities in several parts of Saudi Arabia suspended in-person classes on Tuesday and ordered schooling to be shifted online.

The suspension was announced for classes in the Eastern Province, Al-Qasim and Unaizah in central Saudi Arabia and Hafr Al-Batin in the Kingdom’s northeast.

A similar measure was taken for schools in some governorates in the Riyadh region including Wadi Al-Dawasir, Afif, Dawadmi, Al-Aflaj, Al-Zulfi, Shaqra, Al-Ghat and Al-Majma’ah, based on forecast issued by the NCM, to ensure safety of students and staff.

According to the NCM forecast Najran, Jazan, and Aseer regions will experience high speed wind and moderate rainfall.

Cities in the Eastern Province were lashed by heavy-to-torrential rains on Monday while the NCM forecast rainy weather to continue in the region, accompanied by strong winds, low-visibility, hailstorms, thunderstorms and flash flood.

Amid unstable weather in the Gulf region, rainy low pressure hit Oman earlier this week, and the UAE on Monday, causing floods, and it could extend further afield.

The Saudi Civil Defense and the traffic authorities have warned motorists of the risk of cars skidding during rainfall, and advised residents to be careful while going out.

The General Directorate of Saudi Civil Defense warned people to be cautious of potential dangers as the NCM has forecast the poor weather conditions to continue.

The directorate said on Tuesday that forecasts from the NCM indicate heavy to moderate rains across the Kingdom.

“The Civil Defense calls on everyone to take caution and adhere to its instructions as we see the weather in the Eastern Province. Your cooperation is needed. Your safety is our goal,” it said.


WFP welcomes funding from KSrelief to combat malnutrition in Sudan and South Sudan

WFP welcomes funding from KSrelief to combat malnutrition in Sudan and South Sudan
Updated 49 min 49 sec ago
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WFP welcomes funding from KSrelief to combat malnutrition in Sudan and South Sudan

WFP welcomes funding from KSrelief to combat malnutrition in Sudan and South Sudan
  • The funding will benefit over 35,000 children and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers affected by conflict, economic instability, and climate-related disasters

RIYADH: The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has signed two agreements worth a total of US$1.4 million with Saudi Arabia.

These agreements aim to provide treatment and prevention measures for malnutrition in Sudan and South Sudan.

The funding will benefit over 35,000 children and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers affected by conflict, economic instability, and climate-related disasters. Specifically, it will aid nearly 29,000 individuals in Sudan and close to 6,000 individuals in South Sudan.

Michael Dunford, WFP's Regional Director for the East Africa region, emphasized the importance of this funding, especially given the dire situation unfolding in Sudan, which is on the brink of becoming one of the world's largest hunger crises. He stressed the urgency of addressing malnutrition to prevent needless deaths and mitigate the long-term consequences of childhood malnutrition.

The agreements were formalized during a pledging conference for the Sudan crisis in Paris, where WFP's Executive Director, Cindy McCain, and Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Royal Court Advisor and Supervisor General of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief), signed the documents.

Dr. Abdullah Al Moallem, Director of KSRelief's Health and Environmental Aid Department, reaffirmed their commitment to supporting vulnerable populations in Sudan and South Sudan. He highlighted the importance of these projects in providing emergency nutritional aid to children and pregnant or lactating women, which will ultimately contribute to combating famine and malnutrition in both countries.

In Sudan, nearly 4.9 million children under five and pregnant or breastfeeding women face acute malnutrition—a 22% increase from the previous year. South Sudan is also grappling with high malnutrition rates, with approximately 1.6 million children and 870,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women expected to be malnourished this year.


Pakistani premier says Saudi FM’s visit heralds ‘new era’ of strategic, commercial partnership

Pakistani premier says Saudi FM’s visit heralds ‘new era’ of strategic, commercial partnership
Updated 16 April 2024
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Pakistani premier says Saudi FM’s visit heralds ‘new era’ of strategic, commercial partnership

Pakistani premier says Saudi FM’s visit heralds ‘new era’ of strategic, commercial partnership
  • Saudi foreign minister’s visit comes a little over a week after Saudi crown prince met Pakistani PM in Makkah
  • Crown prince has reaffirmed commitment to expedite investment worth $5 billion that was previously discussed

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Tuesday the ongoing visit of Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan to Islamabad would herald a new era of strategic and commercial partnerships between the two long-time allies.

The Saudi foreign minister arrived in Islamabad on Monday on a two-day visit aimed at enhancing bilateral economic cooperation and pushing forward previously agreed investment deals. His trip comes a little over a week after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Sharif in Makkah and reaffirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to expedite investments worth $5 billion that were previously discussed.

“The visit is the beginning of a new era of strategic and commercial partnership between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,” Sharif was quoted as saying in a statement from his office after he met Prince Faisal. “Pakistan wants to further promote cooperation in the fields of trade and investment between the two countries.”

The PM said Pakistan was taking steps to promote foreign investment and make partnerships “mutually beneficial” for allies, adding that Islamabad was grateful to the Saudi leadership for increasing investment.

Informing the Saudi delegation about the wide potential of investment in Pakistan, Sharif briefed them about the Special Investment Facilitation Council and measures the body was taking to promote investment. The body was set up last year to oversee all foreign funding.

Sharif also invited the Saudi crown prince to Islamabad.

“The people of Pakistan are looking forward to the visit of His Highness the Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to Pakistan,” the PM's office said.

'Investment Push'

In a statement shared with media on Monday, the Pakistan information ministry said the Saudi delegation would consult with Pakistani officials “on the next stages of investment and implementation issues.”

Saudi Arabia’s planned investment in the Reko Diq gold and copper mining project would also be discussed during the visit, the ministry said, a day after Pakistani state media reported Saudi Arabia was likely to invest $1 billion in the mine project in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, one of the world’s largest underdeveloped copper-gold areas.

Riyadh was also interested in investing in agriculture, trade, energy, minerals, IT, transport and other sectors in Pakistan, the statement said.

“As a result of this visit, Pakistan’s export capacity will increase, joint ventures will be launched and new opportunities will be paved.”

The Pakistani foreign office has said the Saudi foreign minister is expected to hold meetings with the Pakistani PM, president and members of the apex committee of Pakistan’s Special Investment Facilitation Council.

The Pakistani and Saudi foreign ministers will also address a joint press conference after a bilateral meeting scheduled for 4pm.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong trade, defense and cultural ties. The Kingdom is home to over 2.7 million Pakistani expatriates and the top source of remittances to the cash-strapped South Asian country.

Cash-strapped Pakistan desperately needs to shore up its foreign reserves and signal to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it can continue to meet requirements for foreign financing that has been a key demand in previous bailout packages. Pakistan’s finance minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, is currently in Washington to participate in spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and discuss a new bailout program. The last loan deal expires this month.

Saudi Arabia has often come to cash-strapped Pakistan’s aid in the past, regularly providing it oil on deferred payments and offering direct financial support to help stabilize its economy and shore up its forex reserves.


Saudi Arabia did not participate in intercepting Iranian attacks on Israel – sources

Saudi Arabia did not participate in intercepting Iranian attacks on Israel – sources
Updated 16 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia did not participate in intercepting Iranian attacks on Israel – sources

Saudi Arabia did not participate in intercepting Iranian attacks on Israel – sources
  • Israeli news websites have alleged Kingdom participated in recent defense coalition that confronted Iranian attacks
  • Iran launched drones and missiles toward Israel on Saturday evening into Sunday morning in response to Israeli strikes

RIYADH: Informed sources denied to Al Arabiya on Monday Saudi Arabia’s participation in intercepting Iranian drones during its attack on Israel on Saturday.

Israeli news websites had published statements attributed to an official Saudi website stating that the Kingdom participated in the recent defense coalition that confronted the Iranian attacks.

“There is no official website that published a statement about Saudi participation in intercepting attacks against Israel,” the sources told Al Arabiya.

Iran launched drones and missiles toward Israel on Saturday evening into Sunday morning and described the attack as a response to several crimes, including the strike on its consulate in Damascus on April 1.

Tehran indicated that the attack targeted military targets, while the Israeli army announced that it intercepted 99 percent of the Iranian missiles.


Saudi king, crown prince send condolences to Sultan of Oman after flood deaths

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
Updated 16 April 2024
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Saudi king, crown prince send condolences to Sultan of Oman after flood deaths

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
  • A group of school children and a driver died when their vehicle was overtaken

RIYADH: King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday sent cables of condolences to Sultan Haitham bin Tariq after 17 people died in flooding in several parts of Oman.

The Saudi leaders sent their sincerest condolences to the sultan, and the families of the deceased, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

A group of school children and a driver died when their vehicle was overtaken, authorities said.
Civil defense officials gave the death toll for the rains, which saw Oman’s North Al Sharqiyah province hardest hit. The Royal Oman Police and the Omani military deployed to the province to transport citizens out of flooded areas

Heavy rainfall often causes flash flooding in the sultanate, drawing the curious from their homes to nearby dry riverbeds, known in Arabic as “wadi.” In flooding, they can quickly fill and wash away people and vehicles.

— with input from The Associated Press