Fatin K. AlKahtani and her family. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
“Support her academic career, embrace her interests and nourish her passion.” Those were the words of my late father to my husband after he asked for my hand in marriage.
I had returned from the US with a master’s degree in systems engineering and integrations with honors from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and decided to pursue my passion of teaching Saudi women the skills required for a bright future.
Growing up, I had always wanted to be a teacher, and after spending 10 years lecturing in project management and quality assurance, I decided it was time to become a certified project management professional. Once I achieved this, I launched what would become a successful project management consultancy firm.
One summer evening in 2011, my son Abdulaziz, then 3-year-old, was going through an old album and noticed a photograph of his father playing golf in college. He grabbed the photo and asked my husband if we could take him to play. We took him the following day, and we continue to take all our children — his brother Khalid and sister Sara — to the course at least three times a week.
In 2014, we decided to launch a nonprofit youth golf academy by volunteering our time to introduce this wonderful game to schools in Riyadh. Last year, we installed a golf simulator and created an indoor academy on the rooftop of our home, which today hosts tens of juniors, women and members of the Saudi national team.
Golf is a wonderful game, watching young children socialize as they play alongside experienced players on the weekends builds their confidence, teaches them humility, and is always great fun for the whole family.
In 2018, I co-founded Trilogy, a center focused on the wellness of mind, body and soul. It offers a range of classes in meditation, yoga, Pilates, in addition to customized personal fitness training and nutrition plans. It also provides accreditation programs for Saudi females who are interested in pursuing careers as trainers, and acts as a platform for qualified trainers to showcase their skills to our members.
My husband and wonderful family have fulfilled my father’s promise by not only supporting my academic career while embracing my interests, they have also opened my eyes to new passions and challenges. I am truly blessed to be living a happy and fulfilling life alongside my family and feel obliged to provide some advice: Allow your children to be the project managers of their own lives, encourage them to plan their days and always embrace their passions. Treat your children as best friends and allow them to bring out the child in you. There is a child inside all of us and once it is unleashed, happiness is guaranteed to follow.
When I stop and look at the fast-paced social and economic changes taking place in the Kingdom, I recall the proverb “behind every great man is a woman.” The reality of Saudi Arabia today is that alongside every great woman is a man, a women, a child, and an entire nation cheering her on.