INTERVIEW: Female Saudi driver feels right at home at Diriyah E-Prix

21/02/21

Saudi driver Reema Al-Juffali

Formula 4 driver Al-Juffali has high aspirations as 2021 Formula E season gets underway
RIYADH: Ahead of the 2021 Diriyah E-Prix double-header on Friday, Arab News caught up with Reema Al-Juffali, one of Saudi Arabia’s rising stars in motorsports. Al-Juffali, 29, talked about Formula E, sustainability and her dream race.

Q: You made history in Diriyah by becoming the first female racer to drive competitively in the Kingdom during the Jaguar I-Pace. What did that moment mean to you?

That was a day of many firsts for me and one I will cherish for the rest of my life. It was my first time racing in an electric car and my first time racing in an international event on home soil, so it was truly a historic moment for me and my country. I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to race in front of home fans and it was the highlight of my career so far. Hopefully, there will be many more opportunities like this in the future.

Q: The Diriyah Circuit has become one of the more iconic circuits in Formula E. What do you think makes it so special?

The circuit has been hailed by many drivers as a very unique and challenging track to drive. I think part of this is because we have the world’s most modern motorsport taking place on a site that honors the Kingdom’s past. It is a very special combination. Racing in the heart of Diriyah gives you a very strong feeling of connection to our Kingdom’s history. For me, having never raced on a street circuit before, I had to adjust to being closer to the walls while driving an electric car but it is something I love and will never forget.

Q: Now in its third year, we have seen Saudis become more engaged with the Diriyah E-Prix. Can you tell us about the excitement you are sensing ahead of this year’s race?

The passion for motorsport in the Kingdom runs deep. Bringing events like Formula E to Saudi is very exciting for racing fans who are not familiar with street racing. I am also very proud of the first Formula E night race to take place at the circuit on home soil, which will be an incredible moment for the country and the sport. It is fantastic to see the organizers making the most of the global spotlight that motorsport brings. It will showcase some of the beauty of our land and our capacity to put on brilliant, world-class events.

Q: Formula E stretches beyond just sports, it also aims to promote a sustainable and clean future, which is in line with the Saudi government’s initiatives. How important is it for a sport to promote the sustainability message in the Kingdom and beyond?

Our country is on a journey toward sustainability. Formula E’s message for promoting a clean future complements the aspirations of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. As a driver, I feel a responsibility to spread awareness regarding the need for a more sustainable approach to everyday life. I am honored to be a part of this journey towards a more environmentally conscious future.

Q: You are currently competing in Formula 4. What are your aspirations for the future?

One of my ultimate goals in life is to race Le Mans with some of the best drivers in the world. But more than anything I just want to excel in my field, regardless of the category or the event. I want to feel proud of my performance. The sky is the limit.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Dr. Ola Abusukkar, executive director of King Salman Center for Disability Research

22/01/21

Dr. Ola Abusukkar has been executive director of the King Salman Center for Disability Research (KSCDR) since 2019.

Abusukkar is also the training and programs director of KSCDR. The center works to implement, fund and conduct field research in all areas of disability science and disseminate knowledge through training and publications.

Abusukkar is the founder of new direction programs for youth and adults with autism in Riyadh and the founder of the youth and adults with autism summer camp.

She became chairman of the scientific committee of the developmental and behavioral disorder program at the Ministry of Health in 2017. She was the educational diploma program project coordinator at the Saudi Health Council during the same year.

In 2020, Abusukkar was awarded the 21st Middle East Leadership Excellence Award for community service sectors, held in the UAE.

She was also honored with the Harry Watkins Outstanding Achievement Award for striving for excellence in higher academic achievement at Ball State University in the US in 2013.

Before her work for KSCDR, she was a consultant at the Saudi Health Council from 2017 to 2018.

In 2015, she became the special education department chairman at the College of Education at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University until 2017.

Abusukkar holds a doctoral degree in special education for autism spectrum disorder, a partial doctoral degree in applied behavior analysis and a minor in early intervention gained from Ball State University in 2014.

In 2013, Abusukkar completed a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis with an emphasis on autism from the same university.

She also gained a master’s degree in behavioral disorder, special education, from the University of Akron in the US in 2010, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from King Abdul Aziz University in 2005.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi female participation in science rising

17/01/21

Asrar Damdam, founder/CEO of UVERA and PhD. student at KAUST studying electrical and computer engineering. (Supplied)

According to a 2020 study published on statista.com about the gender distribution of 2018 STEM graduates in Saudi Arabia, Communications and IT is the most popular major among female graduates

JEDDAH: In the past five years, Saudi women have taken great strides in scientific fields and, with the support of the government, the best seems yet to come.
Saudi women are now serving as leaders in their research fields, and many have gone on to serve as deans, directors of research centers and more.
In an interview with Al-Arabiya, Hind Al-Zahid, undersecretary for women’s empowerment at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, said that “the percentage of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is higher than men” in the Kingdom.
According to a 2020 study published on statista.com about the gender distribution of 2018 STEM graduates in Saudi Arabia, Communications and IT is the most popular major among female graduates.
Asrar Damdam, founder and CEO of UVERA, is one of the many Saudi women who are not only pursuing degrees in STEM but also working for the empowerment of women by providing them with job opportunities.
She told Arab News that she followed her passion and obtained a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering followed by a master’s degree. “Now I am a Ph.D. student at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. It wasn’t an easy start but as soon as I entered the job market five years ago, many companies were not only welcoming to women but many were searching for them to join. Times have changed and you now see more women exploring their options in various fields of science.”

Technology. It wasn’t an easy start but as soon as I entered the job market five years ago, many companies were not only welcoming to women but many were searching for them to join.

Asrar Damdam, Founder and CEO of UVERA

With her company based in Silicon Valley, she opened a syndicate in the Kingdom. Damdam has found that her recent female recruits are passionate about their work and are going through the learning curves required to excel in their respective fields.
“Their work ethics are exceptional and their passion is felt as they continue to provide insight and finding innovative ways to reach the company’s goals,” she said. “It’s because of their passion that they are able to contribute and it wouldn’t have been achievable without the programs that provided me and the many women in the fields of STEM with these opportunities.”
This was reiterated by Al-Zahid, who spoke of Saudi Arabia’s eagerness to pursue empowerment for women and to provide them with adequate positions fit for their fields of expertise.
“The numbers tell the story,” she said, adding that international markers have shown the Kingdom’s pursuit in empowering women in the labor market is exceeding expectations.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Female workforce boosted in Grand Mosque

20/12/20

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. (AFP)
  • Saudi leadership’s plans to empower women and ensure best possible services to female pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque in line with Saudi Vision 2030

MAKKAH: The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has appointed around 1,500 females in its different departments to serve female visitors to the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
A total of 600 women have been recruited in the Technical and Service Affairs Agency. The rest of the female staff will be deployed in other departments of the presidency such as electric vehicles, Zamzam watering unit, guidance and intellectual affairs, administrative affairs, public relations, media and communication and the General Department of Internal Auditing.
Dr. Al-Anoud bint Khaled Al-Aboud, deputy president for women’s development affairs, said the step is part of the presidency’s transformational initiatives 2024. It aims to raise the level of services provided in the Two Holy Mosques, she said.
Al-Aboud also said it also part of the Saudi leadership’s plans to empower women and ensure best possible services to female pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque in line with Saudi Vision 2030.
The presidency is continuously taking measures to serve pilgrims and visitors in the best possible manner.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Dr. Emtinan Al-Qurashi, assistant director at Philadelphia’s Temple University

14/12/20

Dr. Emtinan Al-Qurashi is the assistant director of educational technology at Temple University’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching in Philadelphia, US.

Al-Qurashi obtained a bachelor’s degree in translation and interpreting at the University of Salford, UK. She received a master’s degree in digital technologies, communication and education from the University of Manchester.

Al-Qurashi joined the King Abdul Aziz University as an English language instructor in 2011, where she remained for two years.

In 2014, she enrolled in Duquesne University (DU), US to pursue a Ph.D. in instructional technology and leadership. At DU, she started as a graduate research assistant before moving on to become an instructional consultant until her graduation in 2017.

Al-Qurashi then joined Temple University as a senior instructional technology specialist. She was promoted to assistant director of educational technology where she oversees the university’s branches in the US, Italy and Japan.

She has been recognized for her work by the Professional and Organizational Development Network and chosen as their Innovation Award Finalist for 2019.

In the same year, she received the “Division of Distance Learning Award” from the Association for Educational Communications and Technology in recognition of her quantitative research.

Al-Qurashi has written several research papers and books on education, educational technology and distance learning.

This article was first published in Arab News

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

22/11/20

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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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

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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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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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Saudi Arabia to establish Future Women’s Civil Association

24/10/20

Ahmed Al-Rajhi. (Supplied)
  • The association’s mission will be to empower, develop, promote, and educate women to contribute toward the objectives of the national vision

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is to establish a Future Women’s Civil Association to help develop the work of the volunteer and nonprofit sector in the Kingdom. Saudi Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi said his decision to set up the civil society was in line with the Vision 2030 reform plan to grow the charity sector in the country.
The association’s mission will be to empower, develop, promote, and educate women to contribute toward the objectives of the national vision, while supporting female participation in leading the Kingdom’s future social, economic, and cultural development.

This article was first published in Arab News

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