In line with objectives laid out in Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has been working on cultivating a much more diverse society and economy, integrating more women than ever within various sectors, particularly in leadership roles. Indeed, the country has witnessed a significant rise in female professionals across the board, many who have been inspired and supported by female Saudi leaders who came before them, such as Professor Selwa Al-Hazzaa.
Considered one of the most influential personalities in the Kingdom, she is one of the first Saudi Arabian women to achieve international success academically, professionally, and politically. Born and raised in Arizona, United States, and then returning to the Kingdom to pursue her career in mdeicine, Dr. Al-Hazzaa’s 27-year-long career journey has been filled with inspiring milestones and developments, from her humble beginnings to her recent impressive roles as a seasoned author, award-winning professional, and head of the Ophthalmology Department at King Faisal Specialist Hospital.
In 2002, Dr. Al-Hazzaa was elected as an executive member of the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO), the highest rank in Ophthalmology worldwide, becoming the first woman from the Middle East, the only female ophthalmologist from five continents, and the youngest member of the council. In 2005, the Arab Women Studies Center in Paris named Dr. Al-Hazzaa Arab Women of the Year in the field of Medicine and Community Services, and that same year, Forbes chose her as one of The Most Powerful Arab Women in 2005.
In 2007, Dr. Al-Hazzaa was appointed Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Health and in 2013, she became one of the first female members of Saudi Arabia’s advisory Shoura Council, a role that has ultimately led to the betterment of women’s rights across the Kingdom today. In 2015, she was given two awards, one a Lifetime Achievement and the other in the field of Medicine.
Today, Dr. Al-Hazzaa is not only a professor, teaching in Saudi Arabia and also as an adjunct professor at University of Southern California, she has published dozens of accredited papers and made headlines last year by making Saudi Arabia the first country in the Middle East and the 5th in the world to utilize LUXTURNA, the first USA FDA-approved gene therapy treatment for any genetic disorder to treat blindness in children.