Two women put Saudi Arabia’s science talent in the spotlight

Time: 12 January 2021

These file photos show Lama Al-Abdi, left, and Asrar Damdam. (Supplied)

  • Asrar Damdam and Lama Al-Abdi honored by L’Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science Middle East Regional Young Talents Program

  • In spite of recent progress, women remain a minority in the STEM professions worldwide, and especially in the MENA region

DUBAI: Saudi women are earning global recognition for their achievements in medical science and research. Two of them recently won awards from the L’Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science Middle East Regional Young Talents Program for their work.

One of the women, Asrar Damdam, 27, was honored in the Ph.D. students’ category for her role in the development of a pump meant to revolutionize the way a healthy heartbeat is regulated — combining medicine, electrical engineering and electro-physics.

“There are some diseases and heart-related behavioral activities, like heart failure, that can happen suddenly, and researchers are developing new solutions to this problem,” Damdam told Arab News.

“We were investigating the possibility of building a soft-sleeve device with a built-in actuator to support the heart muscle and aid the pumping functionality.”

The project was not without its challenges. The only platform available on the market was rectangular, which did not conform to the heart’s natural shape. When Damdam began her research, she turned to nature’s geometries for inspiration, from spirals to spiderwebs, before settling on the honeycomb.

“The beehive structure, which is an array of honeycombs, is the nearest to the heart shape,” she said. “Building a flexible and stretchable array of honeycombs was a very interesting idea to me, although it included lots of challenges. I liked it and presented it to my professor, who liked it too and approved it.”

Damdam then had to consider materials. Silicon was her first choice, owing to its favorable electrical properties, its abundance and cheapness. However, with her initial design, it was found to be too delicate.

After graduating from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in August 2018, it took Damdam a year to make her breakthrough, following countless experiments at a highly sophisticated nano-facility.

“The structure must withstand the heart’s expansion and contraction behavior without breakage,” she said.

“To overcome the silicon fragility issue, I used the regular honeycomb shape with serpentine sides. I designed the platform with a serpentine-shaped interconnect to form the sides of every honeycomb cell and also to connect the cells with circular islands, which are located in the middle of each cell, to be used as a host for electronic components,” she said.

“The serpentine interconnects introduced the stretchability feature, so when the heart expands, the platform doesn’t break.”

Damdam says all bio-compatible devices must be flexible so that they can adapt to the natural movement of the body and skin. “To achieve this, I made it very thin — around 15 micrometres,” or 0.015 millimeters.

Although her project marks only the first step, aimed at proving the viability of the concept, its reconfigurability means the wider scientific community can build on the idea and explore the tremendous technological possibilities it opens up.

“The successful demonstration of the reconfigurability concept using silicon also enables a lot of applications in bio-medical electronics,” she said. “This was my main motivation. If this research is improved, then it can really help in the early detection of cardiovascular diseases, in multi-sensory platforms and in the development of artificial hearts for transplantation.”


  • 28.8% – Proportion of the world’s researchers who are women (UNESCO).

With the platform now fabricated and her research published in Applied Physics Letters Journal, Damdam’s attention shifted to the world of start-ups, helped along by an entrepreneurial training program in California sponsored by the MiSK Foundation.

While there, she won a competition and received funding for her start-up idea of using ultraviolet light to extend the shelf life of food. She says young Saudis have enormous potential in the world of business.

“We are very capable, educated and supported,” Damdam said. “We should give back to our community and country, and actively participate and support the development process.”

Another Saudi woman honored, this time in the L’Oréal-UNESCO program’s postdoctoral researchers’ category, is Lama Al-Abdi in recognition of her research on chromatin — a substance within chromosomes consisting of DNA and protein — and the regulation of genes in relation to vision loss.

Al-Abdi, who is in her early 30s, began her project a few years earlier as an extension of her Ph.D. research at Purdue University, Indiana, examining how certain chemical modifications impact DNA.

After hearing a talk on DNA modification, Lama Al-Abdi was inspired to develop projects on eye-development diseases. (Supplied)
After hearing a talk on DNA modification, Lama Al-Abdi was inspired to develop projects on eye-development diseases, pictured. (Supplied)

“It does not change the DNA per se, but it changes the shape of the DNA itself and how it interacts with its surroundings,” Al-Abdi told Arab News. “These changes can be inherited from one generation to another and they play a very important role in development, embryogenesis, cancer, obesity, diabetes, complex diseases as well as very simple diseases, such as any eye abnormalities that we may see.”

Al-Abdi, who began examining the theme of vision loss as an undergraduate at King Saud University, now works at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh. She has made significant contributions to medical understanding of mutations affecting the eye.

Al-Abdi and her team have recruited test subjects with eye abnormalities to determine whether their vision loss is the result of a mutation or a change in the DNA — or on top of the DNA — that may have contributed to the onset of disease.

“When I first started pursuing chromatin, I was just starting my Ph.D. and my professor invited a speaker,” she said. “The speaker started talking about modifications on the DNA, which, to me, was shocking because I had never heard of it before.

“I was just in awe because I thought I was quite well immersed in the field of genetics, but that was a whole new discovery, and I found that I knew nothing. That was the start and I was hooked.”

Al-Abdi is involved with several ongoing projects related to eye-development diseases and why more than one genetic abnormality can appear within the same family and what can be done to prevent suffering.

In spite of recent progress, women remain a minority in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions, especially in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

According to 2018 figures from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, just 28.8 percent of the world’s researchers are women. Female enrolment in engineering, manufacturing and construction courses stands at just 8 percent worldwide, while in natural sciences, mathematics and statistics it is 5 percent. For information and communications technology (ICT), the figure drops to a paltry 3 percent.

As of 2018, less than 30 percent of the world’s researchers are women, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. (Shutterstock)

With female doctors, nurses and researchers playing a crucial role in the battle against COVID-19, experts have repeated their calls on schools, governments and employers in the region to do more to fix the imbalance.

Since announcing its goals for the Vision 2030 reform agenda, Saudi Arabia has been laying the groundwork for women’s empowerment.

Al-Abdi says she is thrilled to see young Saudi women benefiting from more encouragement and support to develop their interests and skills.

“I do see quite a lot of young talented women expanding their knowledge in all areas,” Al-Abdi said.

“I wish I had the tools and opportunities when I was younger, but now our government is putting a lot of effort into motivating, teaching and opening up opportunities that were not always available for us back then.

“It’s my dream to motivate and inspire people to do more.”

• Twitter: @CalineMalek 

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Dr. Manal Al-Malki, dean at Jazan University

Time: 01 January 2021

Dr. Manal Al-Malki

Dr. Manal Al-Malki was recently appointed dean of the Faculty of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Jazan University. She has been its vice dean since December 2017.

She worked at the university as a lecturer between August 2014 and January 2017, and has been working as an assistant professor since February 2017.

Al-Malki holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Taif University, a master’s degree in information technology from Melbourne University, and a Ph.D. in health informatics from the same university in 2016.

She was a researcher at Melbourne University between April 2012 and July 2016.

At the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, she was the leader of the health informatics competencies framework working group between March 2018 and December 2018.

The goal of the project is to expand the field of health informatics in the Kingdom through the creation of a competency framework that defines the core knowledge and skills underpinning this specialty.

Al-Malki is recognized by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society as an innovation leader and selected to be one of the anticipated 50 future leaders in healthcare IT.

She is interested in the use of wearables and applications for health self-management within clinical settings, lifestyle medicine informatics, health self-quantification, health population, consumer health informatics and related behavioral change concepts and principals, healthcare information technology and mobile health.

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Female participation in sports up 150% in Saudi Arabia

Time: 01 January 2021

  • 12 Saudi women now in prominent international sporting positions

JEDDAH:  Female participation in sport in Saudi Arabia has shot up by almost 150 percent since 2015, the Kingdom’s sports minister revealed.
Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said far-reaching changes as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan and the influence of Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan have been major factors in contributing to the success.
The minister hailed the princess as a great role model who had inspired her peers and country
through her sporting achieve- ments, playing a crucial part in promoting mass participation in sports and carrying out important work on the board and as a member of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) women and sports committee.
Princess Reema recently took part in the first Gender Equity and Women Leadership Forum, organized by the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee (SAOC) and the International Taekwondo Federation, that targeted women’s welfare in sports.
Following her lead, many female achievers have been elected as members of international sports organizations.

These have included Princess Haifa bint Mohammed, who became chair of the women’s committee of the Arab Union, and Princess Reham bint Saif Al-Islam who was appointed as a member of the Arab Swimming Federa- tion’s women’s committee.
The Kingdom’s first female boxing coach, Rasha Al-Khamis, became a member of the women’s committee for the Asian boxing organization, Abrar Bukhari sat on the women’s committee of the Asian Taekwondo Federation, and Sarah Al-Fayez was elected a member of the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) media committee.
Asma Al-Yamani, meanwhile, became a member of the World Tennis Tour Committee, Aseel Al-Hamad was nominated a member of the Women in Motor- sports Committee at the Interna- tional Motorsports Federation, and Haya Al-Dossary took on the role as a marketing committee member for West Asia of the International Table Tennis Federation.
In addition, Adwaa Al-Arifi became a member of the AFC and Arab Football Confederation, and Dr. Razan Baker was appointed chairperson of the International Bowling Federation’s women in sports committee.

Saudi sportswomen have also notched up around 100 medals in events at regional and interna- tional levels.
Fencing topped the list for Saudi female sporting achievements. The sport’s federation has been one of the leaders in investing in the training of women of all ages, with academies in Jeddah, Riyadh, and the Eastern Province.
Fencing has delivered around 29 medals including four bronzes in the epee event at the 2016 Arab Games held in Riyadh. In 2018, Saudi fencers bagged one silver and three bronze medals at the Juniors Arab Fencing Champion- ship in Jordan, and in the same year they brought home a bronze from the Arab Fencing Championship in Tunisia.
In Kuwait’s 2019 junior fencing championship, they scooped one gold, one silver, and five bronzes, and collected a gold and two bronzes in the Asian Qualifying Round of Fencing Champion- ship in the same year in Riyadh.
In 2020, they won two silver medals at the Arab Women Sports Tournament in Sharjah, and one silver and two bronze medals in Manama’s Junior and Youth Fencing Championship.
At the Virtual Confederation Championship, the women’s fencing team secured single gold, silver, and bronze medals.
Second place went to the judokas with 15 medals, all won in 2019. Two golds, two silvers, and eight bronzes were from the Estonia International Judo Championship; a gold, silver, and bronze came in the West Asian Judo Championship.
Not to be outdone in third place were the taekwondo ladies with one gold, two silvers, and four bronzes from the 2019 and 2020 GCC and Arab Taekwondo championships.
Tied at fourth place with four medals each were the female equestrians and weightlifters.
Equestrienne Dalma Malhas gave Saudi Arabia its first bronze medal at the 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore. Riders also collected two more bronzes and one silver at the Sharjah tournament in 2020.
The women weightlifters snatched their two golds, one silver, and one bronze in Gulf tournaments and the West Asian Championship.
Other sports where Saudi women broke into the medal column were: Rowing, through Kariman Abujadail, who won a gold medal at the Gulf Rowing tournament in Sharjah in 2020; boxing courtesy of Najd Fahad with a gold at the virtual Univer- sity World Cup in 2020 and Dona Alghamdi with another gold at the International Leaders Champi- onship in 2018 in Jordan; kick boxing through Zahra Alqurashi, who claimed first place at the International Clubs Champion- ship in mixed martial arts in 2019 in Jordan; and archery, from its women’s team that clinched bronze during the Sharjah Arab Women Sports tournament in 2020.
Elsewhere, the Saudi women football leagues were inaugurated, and saw participation of 10 teams last November in three cities. The football federation, in collaboration with the Leaders Development Institute, offered coaching courses to create oppor- tunities for Saudi women who were keen to become professional football coaches without the need to travel abroad.
The Saudi Archery Federation also launched a tournament featuring more than 25 women archers.

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Mai AlSokair, assistant director of corporate development at Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Humanitarian City

Time: 24 December 2020

Mai AlSokair

Mai AlSokair, the recently appointed assistant director of corporate development at Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Humanitarian City (SBAHC), has held prominent positions in several leading organizations. She began her career as a quality consultant at a hospital in Washington.
In 2015, AlSokair joined the quality department at Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare and, within a few months, was tasked with managing the operations of the primary healthcare clinics as clinical administrator. Her performance qualified her to join the strategy department in 2018 where she set up the Enterprise Risk Management Unit.
During that time, she was asked to be the public relations and communications manager at the Saudi Society for Family and Community Medicine.
AlSokair has also hosted multiple conferences, lectured in different courses, and written articles for journals such as Okaz, Anaween and Quality Magazine.
She said: “Healthcare has always been a complex field to work in, and with the increasing demands and challenges, managing healthcare services is just as complex. The limitation in resources, the increased level of public awareness on their right for safe and quality services, in addition to the improvements in the healthcare structure and legislation, all create the everlasting sense of urgency for healthcare leaders to continuously be knowledgeable, alert, flexible and able to take critical decisions in a timely fashion.”
AlSokair gained a master’s degree with honors in healthcare systems administration at Georgetown University in the US. She was among the first graduates in Imam Abdulrahman University’s Health Information Management and Technology program.

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SNAD Al-Zawaj scheme gives young Saudis a head start in married life

Time: 22 December 2020

The authority’s Saudi Youth in Numbers report, published in August, found that Saudi men and women are choosing to put off weddings. (AFP/File)
  • Young couples priced out of marriage can dream of a stable life thanks to the SNAD Mohammed bin Salman program
  • Cash grants and money-management courses enable young couples to settle down without incurring heavy debt

RIYADH: Leaving home, getting married and buying a first property can be daunting and expensive at the best of times, let alone in this age of uncertainty. As a result, many young Saudis are choosing to put off marriage until they have achieved some degree of financial independence.

Fortunately, the government-sponsored SNAD Al-Zawaj (Marriage), an initiative of the SNAD Mohammed bin Salman program, is providing generous grants and money-management courses to help young Saudis tie the knot and get a head start in life as a couple.

“I was newly engaged, in the beginning stages of my life, and any amount, no matter how small, could make a difference at the time,” Mohammed Al-Oniny, who was among the first to apply for the scheme, told Arab News. “This program lifted a weight off of my shoulders. I was overjoyed.”

Since its launch by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Dec. 30, 2018, the program has boosted opportunities for social development and economic sustainability in the Kingdom, where 36.7 percent of the population is aged 15-34 and 30.3 percent are under the age of 15, according to the Saudi General Authority of Statistics (GASTAT).

The authority’s Saudi Youth in Numbers report, published in August, found that Saudi men and women are choosing to put off weddings, citing “high cost of living” as the main factor, followed by “high cost of marriage.”

The coronavirus pandemic has only added to that sentiment, with lockdown pressures and financial woes playing a big role in how young people weigh up financial decisions, save money and prepare for emergencies.

The program has boosted opportunities for social development and economic sustainability in the Kingdom. (AFP)

SNAD Al-Zawaj specifically targets Saudi nationals who are preparing to get married, offering the financial and educational support they need to establish their own households and get on in life.

More than simply handing out money, the program teaches young people how to manage their finances responsibly through a mandatory financial-awareness course. To date, at least 100,000 people have completed the training scheme.

Over that period, SNAD Al-Zawaj has allocated more than SR 520 million ($138.6 million) in funding that has gone to more than 26,000 recipients.

Al-Oniny applied for a grant after spotting an ad on Twitter. “I looked through the requirements to apply and I met all of them, so I signed up and completed the course on financial awareness,” he said.

After sitting an exam and securing a grade above the requisite 60 percent, he was awarded a grant. “I benefited immensely,” he said. “After I passed the course the program sent me SR 20,000 without any request to return the payment in the future.”


Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification plan, Vision 2030, has prioritized the empowerment of the Kingdom’s large youth population. Help has come in the form of boosting employment opportunities for young people, particularly women, and offering support for startups and young entrepreneurs. With the same objectives in mind, but particularly to help citizens achieve their socio-economic goals, SNAD Mohammed bin Salman was established in December 2018.

Based on several social and nonprofit initiatives launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, SNAD envisages sustainable development through social cooperation that ensures a decent life for citizens in line with the teachings of Islam. The most recent initiatives involve support for charitable associations, release of prisoners and development of historical mosques.

Unlike other welfare schemes that simply hand out money, SNAD strives to promote knowledge and awareness to achieve sustainable social development through nonprofit institutions and sectors. Its aim is to develop nonprofit social initiatives for public welfare while addressing the needs of different segments of Saudi society. The first phase, SNAD Al-Zawaj, is designed to motivate young Saudis to get married and have a stable family and social life.

Rather than loading young people with debt just as they are starting out in life, there is no expectation to repay the marriage grant and no limits on how it should be spent. Recipients are simply asked to take the course and pass the exam.

It is also discreet — welcome news for those hesitant about the idea of accepting government assistance.

“The program is confidential,” Al-Oniny said. “No one gave me SR 20,000 and then asked to take my picture to promote the program. This is one of its major advantages. They don’t ask for anything in return.”

The money came at just the right moment for Al-Oniny. “The program is very helpful, and I think it needs to be promoted and spoken about more. It has helped me and it can help so many more people.”

Mohammed Al-Oniny, SNAD Al-Zawaj grant recipient

Al-Oniny has since encouraged his friends to make their own enquiries and has even taken to social media to praise SNAD Al-Zawaj.

“I promoted and explained the program in a YouTube video, and immediately began to receive many questions and comments from people across the Kingdom,” he said.

“I helped them and a lot of people received the SR 20,000 from the program. Many of my friends and people I know have benefited from it.”

The online application process has been streamlined to make it easy to navigate, with video lectures and step-by-step guides.

Although SNAD Al-Zawaj is designed to assist the widest possible demographic, there are limits on who can apply. For instance, the prospective husband and wife must both be Saudi nationals. The man must be between 21 and 40 years of age; the woman between 18 and 40.

Male applicants must have completed a high-school diploma and their salary must not exceed SR 4,000 per month. Furthermore, the agreed upon dowry must not exceed SR 50,000.

Only the male applicant must complete the financial awareness course and pass the exam with at least 60 percent in order to be considered for a grant.

Al-Oniny was particularly impressed by the educational element of SNAD Al-Zawaj, which sets it apart from other welfare programs and appears to embody the self-reliant spirit of a changing Saudi Arabia.

The grants keep the neediest in mind, and thus are prioritized for applicants orphaned as children, people with disabilities, and the families of fallen soldiers.

“It’s different from other social services because it addresses the needs of different groups of society to develop and to flourish, contributing to Vision 2030,” Al-Oniny said, referring to the Kingdom’s economic diversification strategy.

“I am proud to say that the government noticed me — a single person from Yanbu.”

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Mona Khazindar, Saudi Shoura Council member

Time: 18 December 2020

Mona Khazindar

Mona Khazindar has been a member of the Saudi Shoura Council since October.
She was director general of the Arab World Institute (IMA) in Paris from March 2011 until March 2014, and between 1987 and 2011 headed the department of contemporary art and photography at the institute’s museum where she focused on modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art.
From 2014 to 2015, she served as cultural adviser to the then Saudi Commission for Tourism and Heritage (SCTH).
Two years later, she founded Palette, an art and culture collective that organizes cultural projects and publishes art content. Palette was chosen by the International Contemporary Art Biennial of South America BienalSur to select and collaborate with five Saudi artists for her participation in BienalSur 2019.
In 2018, Khazindar was appointed by royal decree as a member of the Saudi General Authority for Culture and was nominated as member of the advisory board of the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).
During a career spanning 30 years, she has organized numerous successful exhibitions.
While working as a curator of exhibitions and departmental secretary at the IMA museum, Khazindar witnessed the emerging Arab art scene and encouraged and promoted the work of young Arab artists, helping to enrich their visual heritage by providing them with networking opportunities with artists in the West.
She has published several publications on Arab history, art, and culture, including her book “Visions from Abroad: Historical and Contemporary Representations of Saudi Arabia,” which was published in Arabic, English, and French.
Khazindar became the first Saudi to be awarded at the New Arab Woman Forum, during its fifth edition held in Beirut.
She was elected Woman of the Year in 2012 and 2013, and her name was featured among the 100 most powerful Arab women.
She gained a bachelor’s degree in French literature and art from The American University of Paris in 1982, a master’s degree in foreign languages from Sorbonne University in Paris in 1986, and a DEA in modern and contemporary history from the same institution in 1988.
She has attended many forums and conferences covering subject matters such as surrealism, cultural diplomacy, and modern art in the Arab world.
Khazindar is also a member of the advisory board of the Misk Foundation, the board of directors of the Saudi Museums Commission, and the Lebanon-based Arab Fund for Arts and Culture.

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Saudi Arabia in partnership deal with UN agency to empower children in cyberspace

Time: 18 December 2020

Keeping children safe in cyberspace is a key priority. (AFP)
  • Program’s launch reinforces crown prince’s international initiative to protect youngsters

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Thursday signed a cybersecurity cooperation deal with a specialist UN telecoms agency to help strengthen child online safety.
The strategic partnership agreement was inked between the Saudi National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA) and the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to coincide with the launch of a global program to create a safe and prosperous cyberspace for children.
NCA Gov. Khalid bin Abdullah Al-Sabti and ITU’s telecommunication development bureau director Doreen Bogdan-Martin penned the accord at the union’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
Delegates from both sides attended the ceremony, including the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, envoy Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Wasel, and deputy governor of the NCA for international cooperation, Majid bin Mohammed Al-Mazyed.
The program launch will reinforce Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s international initiative to protect children in the cyberworld, announced in February at the Global Cybersecurity Forum in Riyadh.
The agreement will focus on developing best practices, policies, and programs to protect children against increasing cyber threats targeting them while using the internet. It will also provide guidance on keeping children safe in cyberspace via at least 50 global training programs offered in the UN’s official languages of Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
More than 500 open consultation sessions will be held to follow up on the implementation of the program.
Trainers around the world will be advised on how to implement guidance and develop mobile apps and entertaining educational games that would contribute
to achieving the aims of the scheme.
The program will also support countries in evaluating, developing, and improving relevant policies, launching awareness campaigns, enriching discussions on child protection in developing nations, and establishing task forces to help countries set up child protection programs.
ITU secretary-general, Houlin Zhao, praised the Kingdom’s role in supporting international activities to protect children in cyberspace.

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Afnan Al-Shuaiby, chair of the Arab International Women’s Forum

Time: 16 December 2020

Afnan Al-Shuaiby

Dr. Afnan Al-Shuaiby has recently been appointed as chair of the Arab International Women’s Forum (AIWF).
Al-Shuaiby, founder and CEO of FNN International, will assume her new role at AIWF on Jan. 1, 2021.
AIWF was set up as a development organization based in London to support women’s leadership and social and economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa.
Al-Shuaiby is a senior management executive with over 20 years of experience and a successful track record of providing fiscal, strategic, and operational leadership in uniquely challenging situations in Saudi Arabia, the wider Arab world, the UK, and the US.
She has held the position of director general of international relations at the Ministry of Culture.
Previously, Al-Shuaibi was the secretary-general and CEO of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) in London, where she was the first woman to assume this position. Al-Shuaibi served as CEO of the ABCC for 11 years, between 2007 and 2018.
Prior to this, she was an adviser to the president of the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council in Washington, DC, between 1998 and 2007.
She also served as an adviser for government affairs and business development at Qorvis Communications, and assistant adviser at Abu Dhabi Investment Agency.
Al-Shuaiby holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from King Saud University in Riyadh, a master’s degree in educational administration from the American University in Washington, DC, and a Ph.D. in leadership administration from George Washington University.
She has a certificate in executive education from the Harvard Kennedy School and a certificate in peace and conflict resolution from the American University, Washington, DC.
Al-Shuaiby is also a member of the advisory commission at King Khalid University, an executive committee member of B20 Saudi Arabia, and a board member of AIWF.

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KSrelief Team Delivers 100 Tons of Food Aid to Niger

Time: 15 December 2020

NIGER: Today, a field team from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief) delivered 100 tons of food aid to flood-affected residents of Niger. The delivery ceremony was attended by a representative from Niger’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sherif Kaka, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Niger, Turki bin Naji Al Ali, a delegate from the Saudi Ministry of Finance, and the visiting KSrelief team. The ceremony was held at the warehouses of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management in the Niger capital, Niamey. The food aid will be distributed to the cities of Tahoua, Moradi, Zinder and Diffa, and will provide urgent nutritional assistance to 18,627 people.

Ambassador Al Ali explained that the aid was being provided as a result of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to providing humanitarian relief to people in need around the world. He also lauded the strong ties between Saudi Arabia and Niger.

Mr. Kaka expressed his thanks and appreciation to the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, for providing urgent food aid to Niger flood victims, a gesture which, he said, underscored the Kingdom’s role as a leading global humanitarian donor.

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Mona Obaid, medical director for KSA at Eli Lilly and Co

Time:15 December 2020

Mona Obaid

Dr. Mona Talib Obaid was recently appointed medical director for KSA at Eli Lilly and Co. She has become the first Saudi woman to hold a top leadership position in the Kingdom’s pharmaceutical sector.
Obaid received her MBBS from King Saud University in 2001. She is also board certified by the Saudi Internal Medicine Board.
Obaid completed a fellowship at the Royal College of Physicians in the UK in 2006.
She received certifications from the Canadian Board of Adult Neurology. Obaid then completed two fellowships. The first was in movement disorders from the University of Alberta, Canada, and the second in deep brain stimulation from the University of Joseph Fourier, France.
Obaid, who is a board member of the Saudi Alzheimer’s Disease Association and the Saudi Neurology Society, was a consultant neurologist at King Fahad Medical City (KFMC) in Riyadh. Moreover, she is also a scientific member on the neurology board at the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties. Obaid has also worked with the Dr. Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Group.
In September 2020, she attended an executive women’s leadership program, called Pioneer, designed by the Healthcare Leadership Academy for senior women leaders.
Its purpose was to build and sustain the leadership and change management knowledge, skills, and behaviors necessary to support the transformation agenda facing the health sector. The program was the first of its kind in the Kingdom.
In 2014, she was honored as the most compassionate physician at KFMC’s National Neuroscience Institute. She also received a letter of recognition for her active participation in the Saudi Parkinson Society three years later.
Obaid recently participated as a speaker at the virtual Congress 2020 of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS), a professional society of clinicians and healthcare professionals.

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