Who’s Who: Moudhi Al-Jamea, VP at Saudi Telecom Co. and dean of STC Academy

Time: 01 July 2021

Moudhi Al-Jamea

Moudhi Al-Jamea was recently appointed vice president of Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) and dean of STC Academy, STC’s technology and leadership academy. Previously, Al-Jamea was the acting dean of STC Academy and acting vice president of STC between January and June this year.

Al-Jamea was also the general manager of digital technology at STC Academy from February 2019 until June 2021.

She has a bachelor’s degree in computer and information systems from King Faisal University, a master’s degree in information technology and e-business from the University of Greenwich, and a doctorate in computer security and informatics from King’s College London.

After graduating in 2006, Al-Jamea took on the role of CEO at Superior IT Services for seven years. In 2013, while studying in the UK, she became the vice president of the Scientific Society for Saudi Students.

From 2015 to 2016, she was a member of the board of trustees behind the first Innovation and Entrepreneurship Prize for Saudi Students in the UK, aimed at encouraging students to participate in creative thinking.

She then worked as a security consultant partner at Ibtkar Strategic Consultancy, liaising between its offices in the UK, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Al-Jamea has retained a career in education while completing her studies and acting as CEO. She began lecturing in 2010 at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University in Dammam. In 2017, she became an assistant professor while also serving as president of the entrepreneurship and incubator unit. She is certified in ethical hacking from the EC-Council and in 2017 completed the women’s leadership program at Prince Mohammed bin Salman College of Business and Entrepreneurship.

This article was first published in Arab News

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20,000 women benefit from Saudi Arabia’s Wusool program


RIYADH: The number of Saudi female employees to benefit from the Human Resources Development Fund’s (Hadaf) transportation program has topped 20,000.

Under the Wusool program women can receive an 80 percent discount on the cost of each trip to work. The ceiling of support was increased to SR1,100 ($293) a month for those with a monthly wage not exceeding SR6,000, and SR800 for workers earning between SR6,001 and SR8,000.

The initiative aims to reduce transport costs for Saudi female workers in the private sector by providing them with subsidized high-quality, safe, and secure travel-to-work services, in partnership with taxi companies, through licensed smart apps.

The scheme, designed to increase the participation of women in the labor market and provide job stability, covers 13 regions of the Kingdom and women working in the private sector can visit http://wusool.sa to register.

This article was first published in Arab News

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7 winners of Princess Seetah bint Abdul Aziz Award for excellence in social work honored at ceremony

Time: 05 April 2021

The winners of the Princess Seetah bint Abdul Aziz Award, selected from 404 applications, received their honors during a socially distanced virtual ceremony broadcast live via YouTube
RIYADH: A group of seven winners have been awarded a prestigious Saudi accolade for their excellence in social work during the coronavirus pandemic.

The winners of the Princess Seetah bint Abdul Aziz Award, selected from 404 applications, received their honors during a socially distanced virtual ceremony broadcast live via YouTube.

Each award winner delivered a short video presentation explaining their social work initiatives over the last year and how they were able to provide aid to people throughout the Kingdom suffering the financial, health, and social effects of the global virus outbreak.

Held in the luxury surroundings of the Prince Sultan Grand Hall at Al-Faisaliah Hotel in Riyadh, the awards ceremony and celebratory lunch was restricted to just winners and their main contributors due to COVID-19 precautionary measures.

Secretary-general of the social work awards, Fahad Al-Maghlouth, said: “There is room for hope and giving, and today we celebrate to honor the winners of the Princess Seetah bint Abdul Aziz Award for excellence in social work in its eighth session, and we have the right to be proud of them.”

The theme of this year’s awards was “social work in the face of crises and dangers,” and winners were congratulated by Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Saud, Ahmed Al-Rajhi, the chairman of the board of the Princess Seetah Foundation and Saudi minister of human resources and social development, and Al-Maghlouth.

Al-Rajhi said: “Our dear country has remained proud with its advanced developmental achievements and its sincere and honorable humanitarian stances when difficulties intensify, challenges emerge, and tribulations besiege us, despite all the difficult circumstances the world has experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This country, by the grace of God, and then through the efforts of our wise leadership, was a model for the concept of a strong state with its ambitions, ready for crises with all its energies, prepared in terms of the readiness of its infrastructures, support for the people on its land and everywhere. Do we not have the right to feel proud and pride?”

The minister also highlighted the Saudi green project that aims to invest in promoting quality of life and support for those in need.

“The project targets remote areas and needy families, and works on development, training, and support in accordance with specific environmental programs throughout the year in coordination with the relevant authorities … to improve social conditions and environmental living for citizens and families to help them lead a decent and productive life.”

The program titled, “The Green Project: Together to Support Green Saudi Arabia” assists in career development, year-round training, city development, and environmental growth.

Addressing the awards ceremony, Al-Rajhi noted the importance of social work in contributing to the development of the Kingdom and he praised King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for making “human stability their top priority.”

Al-Maghlouth said the award winners were shining examples of the “generosity and loyalty without limits” shown by the nation, adding that “the most amazing achievements are when they carry human touches that rejoice hearts and draw smiles and inspire optimism and confirm the depth of cohesion between the sons of the nation and its leadership.”

Following the speeches, a video presentation documented some of the health, bereavement, and financial challenges being faced by the world from the COVID-19 pandemic and how collaborative schemes such as track-and-trace apps, humanitarian aid, and financial assistance had helped to ease hardships.

The category winners were:

The excellence in national achievement award went to the health ministry’s volunteering program and education ministry’s distance learning digital platform Madrasati (my school).

The Madrasti system helped more than 5 million public and 1 million private students from 900 schools throughout the Kingdom forced to close during the pandemic.

The General Authority for Endowments scooped the excellence in Islamic endowment accolade for helping to mitigate the effects of the virus on people through its humanitarian initiatives.

The Madinah Al-Munawarah NGO was presented with the excellence in social work award for its good city initiative.

Sheikh Abdullah Ibrahim Al-Subeaei received the excellence for social work entrepreneurs honor for setting up a charitable institution and donating money to various causes in the Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Advanced Petrochemical Co. was awarded the corporate social responsibility award for pandemic projects, and Sadara Chemical Co. for its work with the health sector in tackling COVID-19.

The late Princess Seetah bint Abdul Aziz was known for her generosity and compassion toward those in need, running numerous social assistance programs.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Who’s Who: Sarah Al-Suhaimi, first woman member of Saudia’s Board of Directors

Time: 02 April 2021

Who’s Who: Sarah Al-Suhaimi

Sarah Al-Suhaimi has been appointed to the board of directors at Saudia airline as a representative of the private sector, following approval from the Kingdom’s Council of Ministers.

Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, the Saudi minister of transport, congratulated Al-Suhaimi as she became the first woman to hold such a position since the company’s inception 75 years ago.

“I wish her success and for our company continued progress and prosperity,” Al-Jasser wrote on Twitter.

Al-Suhaimi is also the chairwoman for the board of directors at the Saudi Arabian Stock Exchange (Tadawul), the largest stock market in the Middle East. In 2017, she became the first Saudi woman to hold that position.

Three years before Tadawul, Al-Suhaimi was the CEO and a board director at the National Commercial Bank, also known as Al-Ahli Bank.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from King Saud University in Riyadh with the highest honors and completed the general management program at Harvard Business School in 2015.

Al-Suhaimi served as the vice chair person of the advisory committee to the board of the Capital Market Authority between 2013 and 2015.

She worked as the chief investment officer at Jadwa Investment, where she led the asset management and wealth management business lines and was also a member of its management committee between 2007 and 2014.

Al-Suhaimi started her career within asset management at Samba Capital. She is a trustee of the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation and a We-Fi Leadership Champion.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Who’s Who: Reema Al-Asmari, BNP Paribas head of territory for Saudi Arabia

Time: 22 March 2021

Reema Al-Asmari

Reema Al-Asmari recently joined BNP Paribas as head of territory for Saudi Arabia, reinforcing BNP’s corporate and institutional banking (CIB) presence in the Kingdom.
In her new position, Al-Asmari will oversee the bank’s national commercial strategy, with a focus on strengthening relationships with strategic clients, multinational companies and government-related agencies.
She will also be responsible for expanding the bank’s product and service portfolio in all CIB segments, including sustainable finance.
Al-Asmari joined BNP Paribas from Natixis, where she held the position of CEO for Saudi Arabia.
Before joining Natixis, Reema worked for nine years with JPMorgan Chase & Co. in the Kingdom. Her last role in the US bank was treasury services country head. Before that, she was treasurer for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Johannesburg.
Discussing her anew position, Al-Asmari said: “I am honored to join BNP Paribas with the mission to grow the bank’s presence here in Saudi Arabia. As a dynamic bank which continues to evolve alongside Saudi’s ever-changing business environment, I am enthusiastic about the opportunities to build upon its current success.”
Al-Asmari takes over from Jean-Francois Sibille, who will become head of compliance for BNP Paribas Middle East and Africa.
She will work alongside Ammar Pharaon, who heads the BNP Paribas Regional Investment Company (BRIC), also located in Riyadh. BNP Paribas has operated in the Middle East and North Africa region for more than 45 years, offering corporate and institutional banking, and international financial services.

This article was first published in Arab News

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How Shaima Al-Husseini and Sports For All helped promote a healthy lifestyle in Saudi Arabia


Shaima Al-Husseini is the Managing Director of Saudi’s Sports For All (SFA) Federation. (Sports For All)

The positive impact Saudi Sports For All (SFA) had on a homebound population’s mental and physical wellbeing during a suffocating lockdown has been tangible
Programs such as “Baytak Nadeek” (Your Home, Your Gym), the Women’s Fitness Festival, and others attracted thousands, and often millions, of participants through social media channels
The year 2020 will forever be remembered for one thing, and one thing only. But from adversity came innovation, and a fierce fightback.

What the rest of 2021 and beyond will look like after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic abates remains to be seen, but the positive impact Saudi Sports For All (SFA) had on a homebound population’s mental and physical wellbeing during a suffocating lockdown has been tangible.

Programs such as “Baytak Nadeek” (Your Home, Your Gym), the Women’s Fitness Festival, and others attracted thousands, and often millions, of participants through social media channels.

“The lockdown of 2020 showed us how we can innovate and work around tight, necessary, restrictions.” Shaima Al-Husseini, managing director at SFA, told Arab News. “If we have another lockdown, we could build on the foundation of the successful programs we’ve put in place and innovate further as needed.”

While Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries are not short on major international sporting events, the SFA’s mission is to ensure that sports thrive at grassroots levels. It’s a bottom-up approach that has over the last three years seen the SFA sign a number of fitness initiatives at local communities across the country.

Among them is an agreement with the Ministry of Municipality and Rural Affairs and Housing to activate parks and public spaces in three cities, with multi-sport, running and walking programs, equipment rentals, and community academies being introduced to impact healthy long-term behavior.

In November, the SFA signed a memorandum of understanding with Majid Al-Futtaim under which the sports group will produce community programs at future Majid Al-Futtaim malls, while receiving guidance on how to ensure SFA facilities are aligned with international standard green building requirements.

There are other plans, on a more global scale.

“We also developed and strengthened partnerships both locally and internationally with parties such as the World Health Organization (WHO), PepsiCo, the Global Goals World Cup, The Association for International Sport for All, Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports, and many others,” Al-Husseini said.

“Our collaboration with the WHO will see the SFA host global events in the Kingdom, including the Riyadh edition of Walk the Talk,” she added. “The SFA’s strategy will also receive technical assistance from WHO which will keep it aligned with the global action plan of physical activity.”

Since its establishment in 2018, the SFA has become an integral part of the Saudi sporting scene, but for Al-Husseini, there is much work still to be done and no time to sit back and admire what has already been achieved.

“The SFA’s focus is to take a holistic approach to healthy living under several pillars that benefit all sectors of society. So, it’s difficult to be proud of one (particular) step, when we have achieved so much in different areas,” she said.

“With 2020’s lockdown restricting movement, we had to innovate to bring ‘at home’ solutions to Saudis throughout the Kingdom, and we were able to deliver a number of digital offerings to keep people active. We continue to work towards our goal to have 40 percent of all people in Saudi active by 2030.”

The level of engagement during the lockdown prompted SFA President Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal to say: “I’m awestruck by the power of our healthy and active community.”

Crowning a hectic 2020 for the SFA was the launch of the Women’s Football League (WFL) in November, with 24 teams taking part in the competition across Riyadh, Jedddah, and Dammam.

“The establishment of the WFL has been a landmark achievement in Saudi’s sporting history,” said Al-Husseini.

What perhaps went unnoticed beyond its cultural significance was the sheer scope of logistics needed to get the WFL off the ground, with the competition originally mooted for the start of the year but delayed by COVID-19.

“Having the WFL kick off in three parts of the country allowed for a wide scope of players to come forward and sign up, and we had 607 players in 24 teams that had all-female organizational and technical teams,” said Al-Husseini, adding: “The players’ enthusiasm for the game and their sheer talent were remarkable. It’s exciting to think about how the SFA can continue to develop the League, both in terms of enhancing the infrastructure for women in sports and offering training opportunities for local referees.”

On Dec. 17, Challenge Riyadh defeated Jeddah Eagles to take home the WFL Champions Cup and the prize money of SR150,000 ($39,975). The league is set to return for a second season.

Its success bodes well for the future of other organized sports competitions.

“If the interest in the WFL is any indicator, women’s sport in Saudi Arabia is likely to expand exponentially,” Al-Husseini said. “We are working towards developing sports across all sectors and women’s sport is certainly included in that.”

Despite her busy schedule, Al-Husseini herself continues to regularly play tennis and squash, and is an avid follower of basketball and American Football. And while she has no particular favorite individual athletes, she points to several inspirational Saudi female role models.

“HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud is a role model for any young female Saudi,” she said. “Not only is she the former Chair of the SFA, but she is also currently the Saudi Ambassador to the US.

“In July, she was confirmed as a member of the International Olympic Committee, which further cemented her commitment to continue endorsing the ongoing endeavors of the SFA, where she remains a member of the board, to reach its Vision 2030 goals.”

Al-Husseini believes that while the SFA’s role is to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle at community level, it can also be a catalyst to promoting the nation’s high-achieving athletes towards professional careers in sport.

“We are working with different bodies to develop the necessary infrastructure to keep raising the caliber of sporting talent in the Kingdom,” she said.

“As different sports continue to receive the necessary support in terms of funding and facilities, and as athletes continue to be given the right environment, training, and encouragement to achieve their best, Saudi Arabia will continue to produce competitors that will make their mark in the international and Olympic arenas.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Women are equal stakeholders in Saudi Arabia’s development


Over the past few years, the kingdom has witnessed 90 major human rights reforms, of which women’s empowerment constitutes the largest share

The reforms undertaken by the kingdom to empower women since the launch of Vision 2030 has helped the Saudi economy become more resilient.(REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo)

The past year, plagued by the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic, has undoubtedly been challenging for all economies alike. A sound recovery from the pandemic is possible with women at the frontlines. In line with the International Women’s Day theme this year, Saudi Arabia, too, celebrates women’s tremendous contribution in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the pandemic.

The reforms undertaken by the kingdom to empower women since the launch of Vision 2030 has helped the Saudi economy become more resilient. Led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Crown Prince, Saudi Arabia has witnessed 90 major human rights reforms over the past few years, and women’s empowerment constitutes the largest share of these reforms.

For two years in a row, Saudi Arabia has achieved notable progress in “Women, Business and the Law Report”, a global measure of women legal reforms published by the World Bank. On a scale of 1 to 100, Saudi Arabia scored 80 in WBL 2021, up from 70.6 in WBL 2020. Our scores in the indicators of mobility, workplace, pay, entrepreneurship, and pension put us on par with many advanced economies with long traditions of women legal reforms.

This achievement builds on landmark changes in Saudi Arabia, including empowering women with the right to vote and run as candidates in municipal elections in 2015 and the right to drive in 2017. In 2018, Saudi Arabia criminalised sexual harassment in public and private sector employment. Legal amendments now protect women from discrimination in employment, including job advertisements and hiring, and prohibit employers from dismissing a woman during her pregnancy and maternity leave. Saudi Arabia also equalised the retirement age for women and men at 60 years, extending women’s working lives, earnings, and contributions. And, most recently, the Saudi Ministry of Defence has opened its doors for women to join the armed forces.

The elimination of all restrictions on women’s employment in industrial jobs, such as mining, construction, and manufacturing, has already translated into key changes on the ground. The overall rate of women’s participation in the labour market increased from 22 per cent to nearly 30 per cent in the last two years. The growth in certain sectors has been very impressive. For instance, the proportion of women staff at the Saudi Industrial Development Fund increased from zero to 17 per cent in just three years. Today, the industrial sector offers more than 39,000 job opportunities to women, a rate of 37 per cent of nationalisation of jobs.

In fact, the private sector registered a 130 per cent increase in the number of working Saudi women during the last four years. Today 30 per cent of the total Saudi work force in the private sector is represented by women. This progress will certainly gain more momentum in future. Women represent 58 per cent of university students in Saudi Arabia, with science, technology and engineering being their preferred subjects of choice that they further pursue overseas. The talent pool will add to the intellectual capital of Saudi Arabia.

Reforms tend to have a multiplier effect. Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Justice had earlier approved four landmark decisions in support of women’s rights pertaining to protecting minors, divorcees, women who have custody of their children and law graduates. Those reforms have led to an increase in the number of licenced female lawyers in the Kingdom by 66 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019. The Ministry of Justice has created a women’s department. As thousands of women attend programmes run by the Justice Training Centre, many more will enter the legal workforce.

Women entrepreneurship has also been encouraged by prohibiting gender-based discrimination in accessing financial services. As a result, the number of women-owned companies in the Kingdom increased by 60 per cent in the past two years.

Empowerment is not only about creating job opportunities but also about providing a conducive environment to nurture talent. Our efforts in this direction continue unabated. To keep pace with the need of the digital labour market, two digital colleges have been opened in Riyadh and Jeddah to offer women specialised training programmes in network systems management, Internet of Things, smart cities, robotics technology and artificial intelligence. The Transportation Program for Working Women (Wusool), which provides 80 per cent subsidy, has over 10,000 registered Saudi female employees. The programme not only aims to find solutions to reduce transportation costs for Saudi women working in the private sector but also to improve and develop the environment needed to transport women from and to workplaces, by ensuring high-safety and high-quality transportation service in partnership with private taxi companies using licenced smart apps.

Today, women hold decision-making positions in the public and private sectors, assuming important roles such as deputy minister, ambassador, university director, and chairperson of the board of directors in a number of companies. Women have broken the proverbial glass ceiling across sectors — Saudi Arabia now has its first female professional racing driver, award-winning women film producers and women judges.

We are committed to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to women at the global level and strongly support an inclusive approach that empowers women in the economic, social, health, educational, technological, and cultural sectors, among others. The Saudi G20 Presidency worked with the theme of “Realising Opportunities of the 21st Century for All”, and accorded special attention to discussing policies related to women, through engagement groups and various ministerial meetings. The Saudi leadership of G20 ensured the participation of women in decision-making by sharing recommendations of the Women 20 Engagement Group (W20) in the G20 meetings. A number of tailored initiatives such as the “Empowerment and Progression of Women’s Economic Representation” (EMPOWER) have been launched to tackle the challenges facing women.

Women empowerment will continue to be at the heart of our ongoing efforts to realise the Vision 2030 goals and to bring about a prosperous future for all.

The writer is Ambassador to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in India

This article was first published in Indian Express

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


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


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


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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