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

16/11/20

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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Rasha Al-Turki, CEO of Alnahda Society

09/11/20

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

01/11/20

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.

IN NUMBERS
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

01/11/20

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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Arwa Al-Harbi, Youth 20 (Y20) community taskforce lead

25/10/20

Arwa Al-Harbi is the Youth 20 (Y20) community taskforce lead. She works with the Y20 community to bring together young people from G20 countries.
She was the first Saudi woman to earn an MBA degree from MIT Sloan School of Management in the US.
Al-Harbi is passionate about empowering youth and women. She is a mentor with the Global Shapers Community Saudi Chapter.
In 2012, she was selected from 1,700 applicants and was one of three women to consult with the Saudi Aramco Strategic Council as part of the Young Leaders Advisory Board.
Al-Harbi is experienced in strategy, venture capital and business development within Saudi Aramco and the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture.
She graduated from Prince Mohammed bin Fahd University in Alkhobar with a bachelor’s degree in finance in 2011.
She was an investment analyst between 2014 and 2015, after being promoted from economic analyst in 2013 and planning analyst between 2011 and 2012.
Al-Harbi was also a member of the Young Leaders Advisory Board on a volunteer basis between 2013 and 2014.
She also helped an undergraduate senior student make career decisions and prepare job applications through the mentorship program with the Global Shapers Alkhobar Hub, a World Economic Forum initiative.
Al-Harbi’s Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures team received the Saudi Aramco Excellence Award for 2014 after they transformed a low-performing department in five months, achieving the year’s full target.

This article was first published in Arab News

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How a young Saudi female broke into male-dominated environment

Time: 25 October 2020

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Al-Rammah is a commercial manager with GE Gas Power and said she had never felt inferior to her male coworkers despite being the only woman on the team. (Supplied)

  • Nour Al-Rammah wrote a manual for everything GE-related made simple for those with no engineering background

JEDDAH: Nour Al-Rammah never expected to work for GE Power because she lacked an engineering degree.

But the Al-Yamamah University graduate managed to overcome this hurdle through perseverance and resourcefulness, as well as writing a 400-page manual for others like her who wanted to work for one of the world’s biggest companies but did not have the technical background.
“I never saw myself reaching there,” she told Arab News, reflecting on her accomplishment of breaking into and succeeding in a competitive and male-dominated environment. “When I studied marketing at university, I expected to land in a marketing company, doing some public relations, marketing and advertising. But I ended up in an engineering company.”
She was born and raised in France until she completed her schooling, returning to Saudi Arabia after 17 years and settling in Riyadh. She attended Al-Yamamah University to study for a bachelor’s degree in business administration, majoring in marketing and finance.

FASTFACT

She was born and raised in France until she completed her schooling, returning to Saudi Arabia after 17 years and settling in Riyadh.

Her path to GE Power, which has been ranked in the Fortune Global 500, was not easy. She wanted to join the company’s elite leadership program, which only selects one candidate in the Kingdom every year. She was rejected the first time she applied. “It’s very difficult to join, and one of the major prerequisites is an engineering background.”
Before that she had taken up a sales and commercial internship with GE Power without really knowing much about the company and what it was offering in the market at the time, although she was familiar with its logo. She had several opportunities that presented themselves to her, but it was the GE Power internship that caught her attention.
“Today in Saudi Arabia, we have more than 500 GE turbines that generate over 50 percent of the Kingdom’s electricity. I could not reject such an offer. I wanted to explore the opportunity and I do not regret my decision.”

When I studied marketing at university, I expected to land in a marketing company, doing some public relations, marketing and advertising. But I ended up in an engineering company.

Nour Al-Rammah

Once the internship ended she could not envision herself working elsewhere, adding: “Because of the amazing experience I got, my objective was just (there’s) no way out. It’s either I take a full-time job in this company or whatever way I could to stay in the company, like extend the internship.”
To secure her position she wrote “Nour’s Book,” a manual for everything GE-related made simple for people without an engineering background.
“What inspired me to write Nour’s Book was to join the elite and most competitive commercial leader program, known as the CLP (Commercial Leadership Program) in GE. I felt so much empowerment to not let this (lack of engineering background) stop me, or be an impediment to me. Instead, I used this 400-page technical handbook to accelerate the technical learning curve, and I made it through the program thanks to the success of this book.”

The book discusses GE’s portfolio, products, gas turbines, commercial terms and conditions, customer requests, and acronyms across four chapters.
It is not available for purchase nor is it available to anyone except GE employees. Now, her book is often given to new employees upon entry as a manual.
Another reason she wrote the book was to transfer her knowledge to company newcomers, from trainees to employees.
“I wanted to leave a legacy, a footprint. What did Nour leave behind her to help all these new employees join the power business without having an engineering degree? If I did it, then everybody can do it.”
She also wanted to show GE Global how Saudi women had an opportunity to join the energy sector, achieving her goal through compiling articles, simplifying technical language, and attending internal courses. Whenever she came across something confusing, she would consult GE engineering experts around her or across the globe.

Al-Rammah is a commercial manager with GE Gas Power and said she had never felt inferior to her male coworkers despite being the only woman on the team.
“I feel the equality with my peers. Going to GE for me feels like going to my second home. Believe it or not, I spend more time at the office than I do with my family. I feel empowered by my male colleagues. When I ask for help, they always give me (more) than what I ask. If I need any explanations, they share documents or connect me to the right person. In meetings, my points are always taken into consideration. When I make mistakes, they correct me without leaving me intimidated or they call me after the meeting and correct me. They make sure that I always do better.”
She said that today’s Saudi Arabia was capable of empowering and inspiring women. “We do live in a country that gives golden opportunities to ambitious ladies.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Dr. Fatima Al-Hamlan, chair of the global health working group of the Civil Society 20

18/10/20

Dr. Fatima Al-Hamlan is chair of the global health working group of the Civil Society 20 (C20).

She is a scientist in the Infection and Immunity Department at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, as well as an assistant professor at the College of Medicine at Alfaisal University in Riyadh.

Al-Hamlan joined the center as a post-doctorate fellow and global clinical scholar in June 2013, and remained in that position until March 2016. She became a research scientist and head of the Scientific Information Office in April that year.

Al-Hamlan’s focus is on conducting research into women’s health and promoting the health and well-being of Saudi females.

She was a founding member of the Riyadh-based Rofaida Women’s Health Organization in 2016 and is its vice president.

In 2007, Al-Hamlan received a master’s degree in population genetics from Washington State University. Five years later, she obtained a Ph.D. in microbiology, molecular biology and biochemistry from the University of Idaho. She also completed executive education courses at Harvard Business School and Harvard Medical School’s Leadership Program to further develop cross-functional skills, lead organizational change and inspire high-performing teams.

She has received awards for her scientific contributions in her field, including the Princess Nourah University’s Women Pioneers in Health Sciences Research Award in 2018.

Al-Hamlan is currently developing a network to advance women’s health, women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine), and CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) within Saudi Arabia and globally.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Princess Nouf bint Mohammed, chair of the Civil Society 20

09/10/20

Princess Nouf bint Mohammed is the chair of the Civil Society 20 (C20), one of the eight independent engagement groups of the G20. According to the C20 website, the group “provides a platform of Civil Society Organizations around the world to bring forth a nongovernment and nonbusiness voice” and “provides a space through which CSOs can contribute in a structured and sustained manner to the G20.”
Recently, the C20 virtual summit convened amid calls for world leaders to make bold reforms and commit to health, education and social protection investments, while taking ambitious steps toward climate action and biodiversity protection. More than 4,000 civil society leaders, representing 109 countries, discussed their concerns and demands ahead of the G20 Summit next month.
Princess Nouf has been the CEO of the King Khalid Foundation (KKF) since 2019 and is the chairperson of the Saudi ADHD Society and a member of the Al-Nahda Society for Women. She is a committed philanthropist and a strong supporter of Saudi civil society. She graduated from the University of Phoenix with a degree in business management. She has represented the KKF and the Saudi ADHD Society in several international civil society meetings. The Saudi ADHD Society is a nonprofit organization that supports and provides services to people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Over her 24 years with the KKF, Princess Nouf has played an essential role in shaping the foundation’s finances, activities, and its strategic direction, “focusing on creating equal opportunities and prosperity in Saudi Arabia as well as the Foundation’s engagements and support for the nonprofit sector,” according to the C20 site.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Rania Biltagi, head of communication and partnerships at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture

05/10/20

Rania Biltagi

Rania Biltagi is the head of communication and partnerships at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).
Biltagi has over two decades of experience in corporate communications and marketing. Over the span of Biltagi’s career with Saudi Aramco, she has held multiple positions from heading corporate brand management and advertising to initiating and leading the development of Aramco’s corporate brand strategy and brand refresh that was launched in 2015.
In her tenure at Ithra, Biltagi has overseen communications for several key initiatives that include the royal inauguration of Ithra in 2018, the 29th Arab League Summit, the Tanween Creativity Season, the Eastern Province Season (2019), the 5th Saudi Film Festival and the FIKR17 conference.
Prior to her work with Ithra, Biltagi spent 17 years working in Aramco’s public relations department. Her titles during that time included brand strategist, project manager, art director and brand manager.
In honor of this year’s Saudi National Day, Biltagi also asked Saudi youth to consider what being Saudi meant to them, and spoke about how Ithra’s multicultural outlook could help Saudi youth work out what their identities meant to them.
“Our mandate involves igniting cultural curiosity, exploring knowledge and inspiring creativity, and it’s a task we don’t take lightly. ‘Saudi at heart, multicultural by nature’ has been our motto from the start, and the manifestation of this ideal means we’re continually looking inward even as we look outwards,” she said.
Biltagi holds a BA in communications studies from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, and an MA in marketing communications from the University of Westminster.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi presenter Muna Abu Sulayman joins Gucci’s board for Global Equity

30/09/20

RIYADH: Saudi media personality Muna Abu Sulayman has joined Gucci’s board for Global Equity.

Sulayman made the announcement on her LinkedIn account on Tuesday.

The board is on a mission to define and measure the company’s priorities and targets in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion.

She wrote that “their mission is create a sense of belonging where each individual is valued and able to contribute and thrive.”

Sulayman said she had previously worked with Gucci through Chime for Change, an organization founded by the luxury brand for Gender Equality, which supports hundreds of female organizations and projects all over the world.

This article was first published in Arab News

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