Maha Al-Wabel, general supervisor of the Municipal Innovation Center in KSA’s Eastern Province


Maha Al-Wabel is the newly appointed general supervisor of the Municipal Innovation Center in the Eastern Province municipality.
She is a member of several prominent organizations, including the board of the Deanship of Community Service and Sustainable Development at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University, the Al-Wud Charity, the Saudi Management Association, the International Public Relations Association (Gulf branch), the Dammam Cultural Center, and the International Women’s Contact in The Hague.
Al-Wabel is also a certified trainer in administrative development, an ambassador for social responsibility and an official of public relations and media.
She is known for her work as a prolific opinion writer for Al-Riyadh newspaper, as well as the author of multiple published books in both English and Arabic. She also has bylines in Saudi newspapers Al-Youm and Al-Watan.
She also founded the national, nonprofit initiative “Nisaa Al-Watan,” the first initiative to document the names, achievements and histories of Saudi women since 1999. The initiative also published a book in 2008.
Al-Wabel is committed to giving back to the community. In 2017, she established the “Shahrazad Al-Dhahran” book club, and from 2014-2015, she conducted a program to teach Arabic to expatriate students in The Netherlands.
She has also held several workshops for students and parents on how to write children’s books and offers free courses and workshops in business.
Al-Wabel holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from King Saud University and a master’s degree in public relations and mass media from Ahlia University in Manama, Bahrain.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Adwa Al-Arifi, undersecretary of planning and development at the Ministry of Sports


Adwa Al-Arifi

Adwa Al-Arifi has recently been  appointed as undersecretary of planning and development at the Ministry of Sports.
She attended Al-Yamamah University in Riyadh, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2011. As an undergraduate student, Al-Arifi founded the Al-Yamamah Female Football Club in 2007 and acted as president of the university’s student council.
In 2008, she founded the Riyadh Female Football Committee, with the aim of developing regulations and rules for football leagues, management and planning, as well as training and referee workshops.
Al-Arifi started her journey with Saudi Fransi Capital in 2012 as part of an asset management rotation program for fresh graduates and was recruited a year later as a portfolio officer in that department. Between 2014 and 2016, she served as a fund manager, building up her expertise in the stock exchange and in asset relativity across different markets.
Halfway through 2016, she consulted for Portas Consulting, where she focused on project analysis and strategy implementation in Saudi Arabia’s sports scene. In 2019, Al-Arifi joined the Ministry of Sports as an investment director.
Having accumulated 10 years of experience in the Saudi football scene, she is making history with her accomplishments in the Kingdom’s sports sector.
Al-Arifi was nominated to become a member of the Saudi Olympics Council by the Saudi Olympic Committee. In December 2019, she became a board member.
Earlier that same year, she was the first Saudi woman appointed to the Saudi Football Federation, joining a seven-member committee.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi G20 presidency empowered civil societies, Secretariat member says


G20 Saudi Secretariat member Reem Al-Faryan speaks at a media briefing on November 20,2020. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)

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Saudi–US ties much deeper than one Saudi leader or US president, says Princess Reema


Saudi Gazette report

WASHINGTON — Princess Reema Bint Bandar Bin Sultan, Saudi ambassador to the United States, underscored the strength of the historic relations between the two countries, saying that the ties are much deeper than one Saudi leader or one American president.

Princess Reema made the remarks while addressing a virtual conference of the National Council on US-Arab Relations, titled “The Next US Presidency: Implications for the US-Arab Relationship.” In her speech, the ambassador dealt with topics such as the growing US-Saudi relations, the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and the ongoing efforts to combat extremism and terrorism in the region.

Reema emphasized that the relations between Saudi Arabia and the US are strong and historic that span over eight decades. These deep-rooted ties not only bring together the leadership of the two countries but also their people. “Our partnership is bipartisan. It’s a relationship that has been valued by both Democratic and Republican administrations. Our relationship is far deeper than just one Saudi leader or one American president,” she said.

On the significance of growing ties with the US, she said: “With the Kingdom’s growing global role, especially with its presidency of the G20, its responsibility in the region, the Middle East and the Gulf is constantly increasing, and this will be important to our partnership with the United States. Whenever our economic, social, and cultural reforms in the Kingdom are stronger, we will be in a better position, qualifying us to be the largest reliable partner in the region for the US,” she said.

Princess Reema also noted: “We will be able to assume a greater leadership role in the region and bear a greater part of the responsibility, and we will do so without neglecting our focus on peace, stability, and prosperity.”

The Kingdom is witnessing tremendous and unprecedented changes and its leadership is making efforts to bring about the change, not only at the domestic level but also through our foreign policy, Princess Reema said, adding that it is an agenda designed to achieve permanent peace, security, and prosperity for the region and the world.

The ambassador also spoke about the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the reforms that Saudi Arabia is witnessing in various fields. She underlined the importance of confronting Iran’s misbehavior in the region, reining in the Houthis in Yemen, combating extremism and terrorism, and the importance of reaching a solution to the Palestinian issue.

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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Turfah Al-Mutairi, first Saudi woman to obtain a license from GAMI

Time: 18 November 2020

Turfah Al-Mutairi

Turfah Al-Mutairi is the first Saudi woman to obtain a license from the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) for a military outfit factory.
Al-Mutairi has a bachelor’s degree in arts and design from Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, where she majored in textile design. She has also attended training programs on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) at Leipzig University, Germany, and on promoting industrial innovation and technological facilities from the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). She has also received qualifications from UNIDO in industrial policies and planning strategy.
From 1999 to 2009, she worked as an educationalist at Al-Riyadh Schools.  She is now the founder and CEO of the Sondos Al-Dibaj Trading Co., the Sondos Advanced Manufacturing Co. and the Sondos Al-Dibaja Factory for Civil and Military Textile Industries. She also has a factory producing medical products and equipment.
Al-Mutairi’s military outfit factory is among the first of five companies to receive licenses from GAMI. The factory works with international companies specialized in localizing production of military equipment.
Al-Mutairi, who is the deputy head of the businesswomen’s committee at the Riyadh Chamber, is planning to build partnerships with more international companies to develop the field, quoting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who said: “The sky is the limit.” She has had meetings with Chinese and Greek industrial companies, and said she will work with any company that wishes to enter the Saudi market.
According to Al-Mutairi, she employs some 170 workers in her factory, most of whom are women, and will hire a further 213 new employees as part of its expansion strategy.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Dr. Razan Baker, chairperson of the International Bowling Federation’s (IBF) Women in Sport Committee


Dr. Razan Baker of Saudi Arabia has been appointed chairperson of the International Bowling Federation’s (IBF) Women in Sport Committee by IBF President Sheikh Talal Mohammed Al-Sabah.
Baker currently serves on the Saudi Bowling Federation (SBF) board. She is also director of international communications for the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.
Growing up in a family of sports enthusiasts, Baker followed her dream of becoming a sports columnist for Arab News. Noticing the limited number of sports role models for young women in Saudi Arabia, she embarked on an initiative to support Saudi women bowlers. With the support and guidance of President of the SBF Bader Al-Alshaikh, she is working to further develop women’s sporting skills so that they may play at the international level.
A breakthrough in this initiative came in 2019 when, for the first time in Saudi sports history, the SBF sent a women’s team to compete at the World Bowling Women’s Championships in Las Vegas. Baker served as the team manager. Over the past two years, the SBF has more than quadrupled its athlete membership, an achievement realized through the outstanding work that the federation has done to support women in sports.
Sheikh Talal said: “Baker has been a big part of this success and therefore her appointment to lead the IBF’s Women in Sport Committee was not a difficult decision. I and the IBF executive board look forward to working with her in the future to champion our female athletes to the next level.”
Baker will lead a team of committee members in establishing strategies that advocate for the increased participation of female athletes in bowling and in leadership positions within the IBF and its member federations.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Muneera Al-Touq, director at Alnahda Society

Time: 13 November 2020

Muneera Al-Touq

Muneera Al-Touq has been on the Board of Directors of the Alnahda Society since 2014. As a board member, she sits on the Nomination and Remuneration Committee and heads the Initiative and Incubation Committee.

Prior to her serving on the board before 2011 she was a member of Alnahda Society. As an expert in community services, statistics, and epidemiology, she examined the foundation’s training programs, judged their efficiency, and considered how they could be improved.  She has also participated in several of Alnahda’s educational and awareness programs.

She has been active internationally and represented Alnahda in Geneva in 2018 at the Civil Society Plenary Session to discuss the Fourth Saudi Report on the Convention on the Elimination of all Types of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

In 2016, Al-Touq was a member of the Alnahda team which attended the discussion on the Saudi Report on the Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) in Geneva.

Previously she worked as a therapeutic nutritionist at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center. She is also a founder member of the Zahrah Breast Cancer Society.

“I’ve lived in Riyadh my whole life. As a child, I heard about Alnahda and I used to come and join fundraising events for different programs,” Al-Touq told Arab News.

“I saw the people who ran it and the people who founded it. It was always something different and pioneering. They were always ahead of their time. The quality of their programs and the quality of their work is truly of a high standard.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Rasha Al-Turki, CEO of Alnahda Society


Rasha Al-Turki has been the CEO of Alnahda Society since 2013. Prior to this role she was the society’s chief projects officer for more than three years, overseeing the running, development and evaluation of projects in the fields of finance, education and social development, professional and vocational training, and employment.
She was appointed in 2016 by royal decree to the board of trustees at the Human Rights Commission where she serves on a part-time basis. Her career interests lie in positively contributing to Saudi Arabia’s development, with a particular focus on women’s empowerment.
Al-Turki is a founding board member of CellA+, a women’s professional network aimed at empowering professional women in the Kingdom.
She has a bachelor’s degree in history from Wellesley College and a master’s in Middle Eastern studies from Harvard. She has also done extensive research into the history of female entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia.
In 2019, Alnahda gained consultative status at the UN Economic and Social Council and was appointed by royal decree to lead the Women 20 (W20) Summit and its related activities as part of the Kingdom’s G20 presidency.
During an interview with Arab News, Al-Turki said that Alnahda provided a space to be creative, to try out new things and to come up with new solutions without the heavy burden of bureaucracy.
“I think for people who are dedicated to a cause, it’s important to be in such an environment that fosters new ways of thinking and encourages employees to be nimble and to react to changing realities or become proactive with solving issues,” she said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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How Saudi women are becoming equal partners in progress


Saudi Rodina Maamoun, who employed 19 young women almost entirely replacing the men, sells jewellery at a retail store in Riyadh’s Hayat mall on February 19, 2020. (AFP/File Photo)

Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) has put gender-inclusive practices at the heart of Kingdom’s industrial development
Noor Shabib, SIDF vice president, says achieving gender parity and promoting women to senior posts are two major priorities
RIYADH: Women’s participation in the workforce and the wider Saudi economy and having more women in leadership positions is one of the key goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform strategy. That is why the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) has made achieving gender parity and the promotion of women to senior positions a top priority, according to its vice president of strategic planning and business development, Noor Shabib.

SIDF has already reached some important milestones, boosting the proportion of women on its staff from zero to 17 percent in less than three years, making it one of the most successful in this regard among Saudi government entities.

“Not only that — we have women employed in every single department, distributing women leaders and young talent to all departments and in various ranks and positions, ranging from vice president for strategic planning and business development, director of enterprise risk management and a director of the SIDF academy,” Shabib told Arab News. “So, we have women at the highest levels, which is something we’re very proud of.”

Shabib hopes the SIDF’s partnership with the Alnahda Philanthropic Society for Women at this year’s edition of the Women 20 (W20), virtually hosted by Riyadh, has encouraged more Saudi institutions to follow suit.

“The SIDF is an advocate sponsor of W20 and the Alnahda society, joining forces to support the advocacy of women’s issues in Saudi Arabia to empower women, diversity and inclusion in the workplace,” said Shabib.

Established in 1974, the SIDF was created to provide mid- and long-term loans to the private industrial sector. Today it commands capital worth SR105 billion ($28 billion). It is therefore in a strong position to promote change across a whole swathe of the economy.

One of the SIDF’s flagship programs is its Nokhab training scheme, which has been running for over 40 years, providing entry-level employees with advanced qualifications in business, human resources and engineering.

“Two years ago, the SIDF set a 50:50 gender target on the program,” Shabib said. “Our Nokhab program a few years ago was obviously 100 percent men because that’s all you had. We mandated that 50 percent of all fresh graduates coming into this would be women.”

When institutions open up to accepting more women on their staff, they become far more meritocratic, benefiting from a wider pool of talent and experience, Shabib said.

Women and COVID-19
* 22% – Women in G20 countries who lack access to formal bank accounts.

* 64% – Women-led firms’ share of business ops strongly affected by COVID-19.

* 30% – Job losses for women anticipated in COVID-19-affected sectors.

“It means that I can choose the best among men and women,” she said. “The women we have are not the best because they’re women — they’re the best because they worked hard and they earned their spot here. They are competing just like everybody else. We hire the best.”

The result has been a much more positive work culture. “Having women in the leadership team at the SIDF has positively impacted the aspirations of junior women working with us and set for them a good picture of what their career progression could look like,” Shabib said.

Shabib is perhaps a model example of women’s professional empowerment. After completing a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, Shabib became Saudi Arabia’s first female field engineer with Schlumberger Drilling and Measurements in 2003.

In 2008 she earned an MBA at the University of Oxford and went on to work in Al-Khobar as deputy services manager at Rawabi Trading and Contracting Co. Then, between 2011 and 2017, she joined Saudi Aramco, working in multiple roles. During this time, she completed her second master’s degree in oil and gas leadership and in 2015 became an Eisenhower Fellow.

Shabib co-founded the Group (Qudwa) in 2012 to raise awareness about gender differences in the workplace. Its 5,000 members — 77 percent of them men — conducted over 60 events and workshops and established mentorship programs for young women, which were later handed over to Aramco’s diversity and inclusion division.

From here she took on a job at the Center for Strategic Development, a semi-governmental think tank providing decision-makers with evidence-based research on socio-economic development under the Ministry of Economy and Planning.

The panel also sought to highlight some of the best practices at a local and global level for bringing more women into manufacturing. (AFP/File Photo)

These experiences have clearly served her well since joining the SIDF in 2018. A key part of the fund’s mandate is enabling the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP), which is helping the Kingdom grow into a leading industrial power and international logistics hub through a range of lending and advisory products. Central to this is encouraging more women to launch and manage private sector ventures.

“For the past 46 years, the SIDF has witnessed some of the most successful businessmen that are now leading the industrial sector. Now, as we hire more talented women, we aim to support them and enrich the industrial sector with successful businesswomen,” Shabib said.

“All offerings apply a gender-neutral policy without discrimination on grounds of gender with regards to access to services and opportunities. The SIDF continues to innovate new, more tailored products and services that ensure the same opportunities are offered to both men and women investors to increase the private sector’s participation in the Kingdom.”

These initiatives and more were on show at the W20 summit earlier in October, where Shabib took part in a panel discussion called “Replicating success in inclusive manufacturing,” alongside Selina Jackson, senior vice president of global government relations and public policy at Procter & Gamble, and Mohammed Al-Mutlaq, head of strategy at Alfanar Group.

“The purpose of the session was to highlight the benefits of diversity. These benefits will reflect on the industrial landscape and shed light on reasons why there are fewer female entrepreneurs and industrialists,” said Shabib.

A picture taken on July 29, 2020 shows pilgrims circumambulating around the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine, at the centre of the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Makkah, at the start of the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage. (AFP/File Photo)

The panel also sought to highlight some of the best practices at a local and global level for bringing more women into manufacturing — acknowledging where these efforts have been successful and identifying areas in need of improvement.

One success story is an Alfanar factory in Saudi Arabia, which has been operated by a staff of 650 women since 2004. “It is amazing. I visited the factory. It was so humbling and so inspiring because they love the place, they are so happy and empowered and they are growing in their careers. Some of them have been there for 17 years, so they love it,” Shabib said.

Procter & Gamble can also be considered a success story, having achieved 50:50 gender representation on its board of directors.

“One of the most important things that was mentioned is how important gender bias training was in shifting the culture to make the environment more welcoming and retaining of women,” Shabib said. “Selina was saying how eye-opening it was for men when they did the training.”

With these inspiring examples in mind, the SIDF is launching a new program in November, in association with the Council of Saudi Chambers devoted to empowering female entrepreneurs, titled “How to start your industrial project.”

“By hiring more women in the SIDF and investing in their development, whether it’s through our credit program or the programs that we have in partnership with Stanford, LBS, or Fitch Learning, we will be contributing to creating a good base for female industrialists who will contribute to the advancement of the country in the years to come,” Shabib said.

“It will also add to the level of awareness of what it takes to become an ambitious female industrial entrepreneur, which is our vision.”

Twitter: @LujainBenGassem

This article was first published in Arab News

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Dr. Sara Al-Otaibi, director general at Makkah region’s Institute of Public Administration


Dr. Sara Al-Otaibi is the director general of the female branch of the Institute of Public Administration in the Makkah region.

Recently, Al-Otaibi won the Women Leader of the Year Award 2020 at the Gulf Cooperation Council level. It was announced during the GOV HR Summit held in Dubai.

She attributed her success to the “unlimited support” of the Saudi leadership.

Al-Otaibi received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from King Abdul Aziz University (KAU) in 2007. She also received a master’s degree in web technology from the University of Southampton in the UK in 2010. Four years later, she was awarded her Ph.D. in computer science from the same institution.

Her career with KAU began as a trained assistant to teach computer skills courses to freshmen in 2006. She then became a web developer in the e-learning and distance education deanship.

Al-Otaibi lectured at Taif University’s faculty of computer and information technology from 2011 until 2014. From then until 2018, she was a visiting researcher for the web and internet lab at the College of Computers and Electronics at the University of Southampton while simultaneously serving as an assistant professor at Taif University.

In 2015, she was appointed vice dean of e-learning and distance learning at Taif University until 2017. For the following year, she was promoted to dean of university studies.

In 2018, she served as the dean of library affairs for students and an associate professor in web technology at Taif University. Later that year she started teaching at the Institute of Public Administration as an associate professor.

This article was first published in Arab News

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