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10 Unstoppable Saudi Women That Inspire Us Everyday

In times when hope seems to be scarce, we look to Saudi women and how have paved the way for younger generations to come. Thanks to the revolutionary Vision 2030 reforms, more and more women thrive in the Kingdom and abroad and set a worldclass example to others. These Saudi women that continue to excel in (once) man-dominated spaces and professions. Here are 10 Saudi women we love and celebrate everyday:

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1. Haifa AL Mansour

An empowering voice for women in the Kingdom, Haifa Al Mansour is the first Saudi woman filmmaker spreading her talent nationwide, and abroad. Obstacles didn’t stop Al Mansour of becoming a powerful Arab influencer with the mission of changing the way the world sees Saudi women. Her compelling first feature film “Wadjda” was the KSA’s first submission to the 2014 Oscars, under the category of Best Foreign Language Oscar.

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2. Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud

This Saudi entrepreneur, humanitarian, businesswoman and advocate for women’s rights and empowerment, who was also named as one of Forbes’ 200 Most Powerful Arab Women in 2014, is none other than Princess Reema bint Bandar. In early 2019, the Saudi royal was appointed the Kingdom’s first female ambassador to the United States and then appointed head of the country’s newly-established Special Olympics Federation shortly after. Princess Reema has been consistent, over the decades, in empowering Saudi women and pushing for them to achieve their goals and was consequently appointed Vice President for Women’s Affairs of the General Sports Authority in 2016.

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3. Mishaal Ashemimry

This Saudi woman’s success literally reached the stars! Mishaal Ashemimry is the first to join the NASA and is the CEO of her own company Mishaal Aerospace. The engineer’s job consists of sending satellites into orbit using cost-effective space access vehicles (no big deal!). Her title of GCC’s first female aerospace engineer continuously inspires young Arab women to join her field and STEM programs. 

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4. Hanan Balkhy

This Saudi woman has made it to the tops of health and medecine and serves as an example to the youngsters in the Arab world wanting to follow her footsteps. Dr. Hanan Balkhy, a leading figure at the World Health Organization (WHO) where she's the executive director of Infection Prevention and Control , has been working around the clock to put an end to coronavirus. Based in Geneva in the WHO headquarters, the acclaimed Saudi female expert is also the assistant director-general for antimicrobial resistance at the WHO and the Director of the GCC center for infection control. Dr Balkhy is also an Associate Professor of King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Science, with over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals. In short, she's all the goals!

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5. Thoraya Obeid

Dr. Thoraya Obaid, former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations Earlier this week, Women 20 (W20) Chair Dr. Thoraya Obaid called upon G20 health ministers to reckon the role women are playing in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact the novel virus is having on them. “Women are a vital part of the health care infrastructure that is battling the pandemic head-on — both directly, as women comprise almost 7 out of 10 health and social care workers, and indirectly as unpaid caregivers, contributing $1.5 trillion to the global health economy even before these extraordinary times. Their needs merit dedicated attention as workers and as receivers of care themselves,” Obaid said.

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6. Tasneem Sultan

Known for her work on gender and social issues in Saudi Arabia, American-born, UK-educated Tasneem Alsultan is an emerging female Saudi photographer to definitely know about. At just 32 years of age, Alsultan is already leaving her mark in the region and internationally, selected last year by British Journal Photography among best 16 emerging photographers to watch, and PDN’s 30 photographers to watch in 2017. As a freelance investigative photojournalist, she has covered a breadth of pertinent topics such as the first women’s voting and elections in Saudi Arabia (for National Geographic), and she delves into more personal stories as well, such as her commercial work on Saudi weddings, having documented more than 120 of them across the globe. In 2016, her wedding photography was featured in National Geographic.

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7. Latifa Al-Abdulkarim

Latifa Al-Abdulkarim is the Assistant Professor in Artificial Intelligence and Researcher in Artificial Intelligence and Law at the University of Liverpool-UK & Saudi Arabia. She has even “worked as Artificial intelligence Advisor to the Saudi Government, leading the national strategic direction of AI and AI governance.” Her invaluable experience on the ground makes her the exemplary teacher to young minds eager to enter the world of AI.

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8. Dr. Reem Bint Mansour Al-Saud

Saudi female trailblazer, Dr. Reem bint Mansour Al-Saud, is a member of the Kingdom’s permanent delegation to the UN in New York since 2015. This lady leads by example; she was representing her country during the UN 2030 agenda negotiations and is considered to this day a major figure in the fight for gender equality in Saudi Arabia and around the world. Dr. Reem holds a master’s degree in social policy and a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern studiesfrom Oxford University.She is a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where she focuses her work on enhancing Saudi labor policies, especially those concerned with women.

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9. Princess Lamia Bint Majed Al Saud

Highly regarded for her humanitarian work and philanthropic efforts to advance sustainable and inclusive development for the most vulnerable, HRH Princess Lamia Bint Majed Al Saud was recently selected as the first-ever regional Goodwill Ambassador for the Arab States by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). The organisation that works in over 90 countries to support people in cities and human settlements for a better urban future appointed the Saudi royal, who is the Secretary General of Alwaleed Philanthropies (AP), during a press conference at the tenth session of the World Urban Forum.

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10. Dr. Mariam Binladen

To raise awareness about Syria’s refugee crisis, Dr. Mariam Bin Laden became the only woman in history to swim the entire length of London’s River Thames, which is around 177km long. The images of the Syrian crisis saddened yet motivated her to swim across the English Channel. Dentist, Athlete, and Humanitarian, Dr. Mariam is glad to see that life in Saudi Arabia is changing for Saudi women for the better, the dentist advocates a number of humanitarian causes, including opening the first dental practice at a hospital site in Jordan’s Al Azraq Refugee Camp in 2016 – which is also free of charge for patients.

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