90 Inspiring Saudi Women to Mark The 90th Saudi National Day
In honor of the 90th Saudi National Day, AboutHer.com gathered some of the nation’s trailblazing women setting the bar high for generations to come. On this day, we are celebrating Saudi women that surpass all boundaries and conquer their different fields with top-notch skills, passion, and flair. Without further ado, meet Saudi Arabia’s leading ladies:
P.S: check out part two here.
Sarah Al-Tamimi is the vice chair of Saudi Arabia’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking. UN Office in Drugs and Crime (UNODC) nominated her notable work in awareness against human trafficking in the Kingdom. The Saudi trailblazer supervises training programs with partners at the UNODC and the International Organization for Migration and coordinates protection responses for victims and potential victims of trafficking.
Dr. Nouf Al Ghamdi
Dr. Ghamdi is a consultant on economic development and strategic planning, and an advisor on women's empowerment and gender balance. She founded Chief Outsiders Consulting, a consulting and developmental company, over a decade ago. Her company has representative offices all over the world.
Al-Sadoon is the Saudi woman responsible for the Counter Weight Hydraulic Piston. Her creation is basically a mechanical unit that is used to pump liquids and gases at a user-set pressure rate with zero, or very limited, energy consumption.
Sarah Al-Suhaimi is the first Saudi Arabian woman to be elected chairperson of the Saudi Stock Exchange, Tadawul. She is the CEO of NCB Capital, and is the first woman to assume this position since Tadawul’s establishment in 2007. A Harvard University alumnus, Al-Suhaimi was chief investment officer at Jadwa Investment and a senior portfolio manager at Samba Financial Group, before joining NCB Capital.
Rania Mahmoud Nashar
Rania Mahmoud Nashar is now the chief executive of Samba Financial Group. With 20 years of banking experience under her belt, she had been in several executive roles within the financial group, working her way up. Nashar is also a board member for Samba Bank Limited in Pakistan and Samba Global Markets Limited Company.
Lubna Olayan is the CEO of Olayan Financing Co. and one of the most famous Saudi women in business and finance. She holds and manages all of Saudi conglomerate Olayan Group's businesses and investments across the Middle East.
Olayan also serves as a board member of several other companies such as Saudi Hollandi Bank, Rolls Royce Group, and Schlumberger. She studied in America and holds an MBA from Indiana University and a B.Sc. in Agriculture from Cornell University. Olayan was also named one of Forbes’ most powerful Arab women in the world.
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.
Dr. Khawla Al Kuraya
With the ambition to represent Saudi Arabia in eradicating cancer and finding a cure, Dr. Khawla Al Kuraya, who is a professor of pathology and director at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, finds her joy in relieving her patients of suffering and inspiring others. The female Saudi doctor in 2010, became the first woman to receive the Order of Abdulaziz Al Saud – which is an order of merit for Saudi citizens. The former Shura council member's empowers fellow Saudi women to become leaders themselves to aid the development of women under Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan.
Passionate about the movie industry, Jumana Shaheen has come leaps and bounds as a Visual Effects Producer. With people underestimating her due to her age, she defied the opinions of others and focused on her passions. After proving herself, she went on to produce visual effects for high profile TV shows and music videos, including Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” video, comedy shows Black-ish and Modern Family. Jumana doesn’t stop there when it comes to being a positive representative of Saudi women, she wants to break the negative perception that the world has about Saudi women.
Najla Al Radadi
This Saudi scientist has 2 patents in the field of oncology treatment. Her invention is a nanoparticle derived from Saudi date extract, and it contributes to the treatment of cancer cells.
Sarah AlMaddah is the perfect example of the muliti-disipilinary creativity that’s flourishing amongst Saudi Arabia’s youth. The Dhahran-based architect, artist and graphic designer finds happiness in crafting beautiful things, from paintings and sculptures to music.
Fashion photographer Hayat Osamah has made a name for herself while creating a thought-provoking perspective on Saudi Arabia. The Riyadh-based self-taught snapper is committed to showing a more diverse and truthful side to the Kingdom by capturing its underground youth culture. Osamah simply loves to zoom in on those who are “raw, unique and themselves,” as she told “Grazia Middle East.”
Hala Al-Hamrani is a certified boxing trainer with a black belt in Jujutsu, which she earned at the age of 16. She has also founded a gym, FLAG Boxing - Fight Like a Girl, where she trains women in self-defense and other forms of boxing and martial arts.
Setting up a plan to start a bakery café in Jeddah, Chef Amna does not only want to create delicious treats, but empowering other women to reach their full potential is inlcuded in her plans as well. This Saudi chef holds a BA in Hospitality Management and Marketing from the Glion Institute of Higher Education in Switzerland and a basic patisserie certificate from Le Cordon Bleu Paris. She also holds a MBA degree from IESE and experience in a bread factory in Paris. With all her extensive knowledge and practice, Amna's plan is up-and-coming and ready to be in full action by September.
Dr. Haleema Alamri
Dr. Haleema Alamri is a senior lab scientist in the Materials Design Lab at Saudi Aramco’s R&D Center. The mother of two, who earned a PhD in chemistry from KAUST, is an MIT research affiliate and the chair to the female Saudi social innovation group. She and her Aramco team are committed to formulating plastics that degrade organically. Dr. Haleema is working to develop the next generation of degradable plastics, so that when these materials are used in future applications, they will not become planet-impacting litter.
Abeer AlJabr joined Saudi Aramco in July 2017 to work as an engineer in the company’s Fire Protection Department (FrPD). Becoming Pro Board certified in Firefighter I and II with a NFPA Certification, the Saudi female trailblazer underwent rigorous physical training and passed medical and skill tests to complete the Hazmat Awareness and Hazmat Operations.
Esra M. Alhabshi
Since graduating in 2016 with Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering, Nanotechnology and Microsystems, Esra M. Alhabshi has worked at Saudi Aramco’s satellite R&D Center, as a member of the Sustainable Energy team, in collaboration with KAUST. She conducts experiment after experiment, working to improve the efficiency of solar cells and researching the use of non-metallics. Her work focuses on unlocking the potentials of non-corrosive materials in the automotive, construction, renewable energy and packaging industries.
Dr. Elaf Ahmed
Dr. Ahmed joined Saudi Aramco in 2018 as a lab scientist on the Produced Water Treatment Team (PWT), which is a part of the Oil and Gas Treatment Division at Aramco’s R&D’s center. She is one of the project leaders on a team of around 10 scientists who work on research projects for different produced water treatment technologies. Dr. Ahmed pursued her bachelor’s degree Microbiology from King Abdulaziz University and her Master’s degree and PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering from King Abdullah University of Science a.nd Technology (KAUST).
Dr. Ghadah Al Harthi
Dr. Ghadah AlHarthi is a Middle East specialist & associate lecturer in innovation management at Central Saint Martins. For the past 8 years she collaborated with art supporters in the MENA region to promote young and established artists from the Middle East. AlHarthi is also a cultural consultant working alongside Barker Langham across their Middle East projects specialising in research and curation.
Dr. Nawf AlGublan
Dr. Nawf AlGublan is a Saudi female doctor working in the United States. A successful nephrologist, Dr. Nawf AlGublan, currently practices in Boston and is a proud alumnus of the Brigham & Women’s Hospital Massachusetts General Hospital Join Nephrology Fellowship.
Dr. Hanan Balkhy
The incomparable Saudi trailblazer heads up the WHO Executive Director of Infection Prevention and Control. In her home country, Dr. Balkhy, Chairman of the Infectious Disease unit at King Abdullah International Medical Research Center, leads a team of scientists on relevant infectious disease research for the rising public health concerns such as multidrug resistance pathogens, MERS-CoV, hospital acquired infections, and now COVID-19.
Dr. Haifa Al Gahtani
She is the first Saudi woman to be accredited as consultant in cognitive behavioral therapy by the Academy of Cognitive Therapy in Philadelphia. In addition to heading the psychiatry department of Arabian Gulf University, Al Gahtani runs her own clinic at the Renewal and Reward Center in in Safa, Dammam and is part of the national Mudabara program, which also aims to unlock therapists’ full potential.
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. Death threats, public heckling, and controversies restricted her career. 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.
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. Check out her awesome inter-galactic life through her Instagram page.
Tamadur El Ramah
Dr. Tamadur El Ramah is a pioneering voice in both the political and humanitarian fields. After becoming the first Saudi woman to be appointed the title of Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development in 2018, she earned a spot in the UN committee of Convention on Elimination of all kinds of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It’s incredible voices like El Ramah that are a solid proof that Saudi women have been capable of anything during this decade.
Dr Alia Komsany
Born and raised in the UK, Dr Alia Komsany, who has spent time in Saudi, where her late father was from, is an inspiration all female sports lovers can turn to. While doing her DPhil in Medical Science at Linacre College in Oxford, Kosmany, a former amateur show jumper, was introduced to rowing. After immediately falling in love with the sport, she continued to perfect her technique while specialising in cancer and angiogenesis. In order to compete against taller, more experienced and heavier women, she has had to go the extra mile and take up activities like powerlifting.. Kosmany, who advocates equality of opportunity, represents and encourages Muslim women all over the world to get active. And she credits the women who are involved in sports for doing the best they can to elevate things to the next level.
Barrah Luhaid’s passion for sports, especially cycling, guided her to be an entrepreneur. As well as launching the first abaya made especially for cycling in the Kingdom, Luhaid is the Co-Founder of Spokes Hub. The cycling shop and community in Dhahran, which has a café and workshops, is the first gender-inclusive one in the Kingdom. Spokes Hub won a national competition for start-ups and has been endorsed by Princess Reema bin Bandar bin Saud. Luhaid, who is a board member of the Saudi Cycling Federation, is always encouraging women via sports and believes hard work is what yields results. “When I advocate for women’s cycling, I’m advocating for women’s independence,” she is quoted as saying in “Harper’s BAZAAR Arabia.”
After her first CrossFit class, Amal Baatia became hooked and went on to become the first Saudi Arabian female to teach it in the Kingdom, leaving behind an investment manager position in the process. After training and learning the right techniques online and abroad, the mother of two is now a full-time fitness coach, who also teaches weightlifting and other fitness activities. With a passion to inspire women and girls, she shows how empowering gaining physical strength and having a positive self-image can be. Baatia, who shares workout videos on social media, has been a sports enthusiast since she joined her school gymnastics team when she was 10.
Haya Sawan, the Founder of Jeddah’s SheFit gym, which is described as a “one stop health club,” began her career as a fitness trainer for pregnant or post-partum women. The certified fitness instructor and healthy lifestyle enthusiast reaches out to many women through her social media pages. “We as women should ensure that we raise our daughters in a way so as to encourage their inner beauty and cultivate their skills,” Sawan, who is also a host on MBCHamsa and has a stake in a restaurant called Black Cardamom, is quoted as saying in “Arab News.” “We need to embrace the younger generations and accept them for who they are and not for what is required or expected of them. Be strong and beautiful.”
In the age of unimaginable beauty standards, it’s women staying true to themselves that we love to embrace. Meet Abeer Sinder, the first black beauty and health vlogger in the Kingdom that champions beauty through her identity. Best part? The Saudi influencer is not one to glorify teatoxes, skin bleaching products but is a hardcore fan of inclusive beauty brands.
This hijab-wearing sensation has built herself her own social media empire! With 1.4 million followers on Instagram, Amy Roko deconstructs stereotypes on the niqab and tackles the social realities of Saudi Women. How? It’s throughout skits and jokes in bite-sized format.
Ever dream of climbing Mount Everest? Meet the youngest Arab and the Saudi woman to do it. Behold Raha Moharrak, an incredibly inspirational Saudi woman that keeps us goin’. Her ambition didn’t just stop at Everest, Raha climbed up to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Vinson, Elbrus, Aconcagua, Kala Pattar, Pico de Orizaba, and Iztacchihuatl.
Darin El Bayed
Darin is Saudi-based content creator and online comedian, who has garnered a fanbase of almost 4.5 million followers on Instagram. Through relatable skits and uncontrollable laughs, this beauty queen has made some serious social commentary on Arab culture. She’s also part of a successful Youtube show called HowaWaHeya.
Hatoon Al Kadi
Hatoon Kadi is arguably the Kingdom’s most prominent comedy forces with an impressive reach. She hosts a popular YouTube comedy show called “Noon al-Niswa”, which earned itself millions of fans from the region. Over the years, Kadi successfully conveyed serious messages through two powerful weapons: comedy and sarcasm. When she’s not busy grappling society one joke at a time, Kadi is a mother of two and a lecturer at Jeddah’s Dar Al-Hekma University and the School of Business and Law.
Known as Winnie Harlow’s long lost twin sister, 23-year-old model Shahad Salman won over our hearts with her beauty, confidence, and all-around charming character. With almost 100K followers on Instagram, the Mecca-based model is using her voice to shatter misconceptions around her skin condition called vitiligo, which is characterized by pigmentless white patches.
The 29-year-old diver, who has been diving since 2009, spends her days exploring the glimmering turquoise waters of the Red Sea. A pioneer in the field, Alosaimi holds a local record for the deepest dive by a Saudi female at 345 feet (105 meters). The public figure recently headed up the campaign for Nike’s hijabi swimwear collection. As founder of Pink Bubbles and Disconnect KSA, which since their establishment has been targeting female divers and non-divers, encouraging them to start scuba diving while also spreading awareness around the sport.
Norah Almarri is the frst female Taekwando athlete to represent the kingdom in Taikwando in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. She has also competed in several international competitions.
Mariam Fardous is the first Arab to dive in the North Pole, and the 3rd woman in the world to do so. She has a master scuba diver certification from the Blue Reef Divers in Jeddah, and has trained in specialized diving techniques in Russia. She also has 2 Master’s degrees in pediatrics from London and epidemiology from Riyadh.
Aseel Al Hamad
Aseel Al Hamad is KSA’s representative of Women Motorsport. She is the first female board member of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation and is a member of the International Automobile federation.
Adwa Al Arifi
Adwa Al Arifi is the first female committee member of the Saudi Football Federation, and is the founder of KSA’s first women's football team in Riyadh, Al Yamamah. She is a member of the Social Responsibility Committee, a consultant in the General Authority for Sport, and a member of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports.
41. Dalma Malhas
Dalma Malhas is the first Saudi woman to win an Olympic medal. She won the bronze medal in the singles jump at the 2010 Summer Youth Games in Singapore. Malhas, who speaks French as well as her native Arabic and English, was briefly slated to compete at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London as her bronze medal qualified her for an International Olympic Committee wildcard. Had she taken part, she would have earned a place in the Olympics history book as the first female show jumper to participate for Saudi Arabia. However, she did become the first woman to represent Saudi Arabia at the World Equestrian Games in Tyron, which took place in 2018 and participated in Diriyah’s Equestrian Festival
Lamya Al Husail
Lamya Al Husail is a karting driver who won third place in the 2018 Petromin Karting Championship in Jeddah, the first women's karting competition to be held in Saudi Arabia. She is also the first Saudi architect specializing in the design of the circuitry and sports buildings.
Farah Al Zahrani
Farah Al-Zahrani is a jujitsu sportswoman who represented her country at the 2018 Jujitsu Asian championship in Kazakhstan. She was ranked fourth in the White Belt category at the 2015 International Games for Professionals in Jujitsu in Abu Dhabi, UAE and currently has the Blue Belt.
Dana Al Shahri
Dana Al-Shahri is a track athlete who represented KSA at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, the 2018 Arab Women’s Games in Sharjah, UAE, and the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku, Azerbaijan. At the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Dana Shahri ran two races in less than five days, the 400 and 200-meter races.
Sarah Attar is a runner that participated in the 2012 Olympic Games held in London. She also participated in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and was ranked 8th.