Mar 1, 2018
Dr. Hayat bint Sulaiman bin Hassan Sindi (Arabic: حياة سندي) is a Saudi Arabian medical scientist and one of the first female members of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia. She is famous for making major contributions to point-of-care medical testing and biotechnology. She was ranked by Arabian Business as the 19th most influential Arab in the world and the ninth most influential Arab woman.
Hayat Sindi was born in Mecca. In 1991, she convinced her family to allow her to travel alone to the United Kingdom in order to pursue her higher education. After a year spent learning English and studying for her A-levels, she was accepted to King’s College London, where she graduated with a degree in pharmacology in 1995. While at King’s College she was a recipient of Princess Anne’s Award for her undergraduate work on allergy.
Sindi, who wears the traditional Muslim headscarf, was pressured to abandon her religious and cultural beliefs while at university; she persisted, holding the view that a person’s religion, color or gender has no bearing on scientific contributions. Sindi went on to get a Ph.D. in biotechnology from Newnham College, Cambridge in 2001; she was the first Saudi woman to be accepted at Cambridge University in the field of biotechnology, and the first woman from any of the Arab States of the Persian Gulf to complete a doctoral degree in the field.
Sindi is a visiting scholar at Harvard University; as such, she travels often between Jeddah, Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Sindi’s laboratory work at Harvard earned her a spot with four other scientists in a documentary film supported by the Executive Office of the President of the United States in order to promote science education among young people. Along with her scientific activities, Sindi participated in numerous events aimed at raising the awareness of science amongst females, particularly in Saudi Arabia and the Muslim World in general. She is also interested in the problem of brain drain, and was an invited speaker at the Jeddah Economic Forum 2005.
In 2010, Sindi was the winner of the Mekkah Al Mukaramah prize for scientific innovation, given by HRH Prince Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud. She was also named a 2011 Emerging Explorer by the National Geographic Society.
On October 1, 2012, Sindi was appointed by UNESCO head Irina Bokova as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for her efforts in promoting science education in the Middle East, especially for girls. She was also on Newsweek‘s list of 150 women who shook the world for that year.
In the annual meeting of Clinton Global Initiative held on September 21–24, 2014, Dr. Sindi was awarded with ‘Leadership in Civil Society’ prize.