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3 Pioneering Saudi Women To Get Inspired In 2021

Known for shattering the glass ceiling, these leading lights will motivate and inspire you to make the progress you want this year.

Thinking about how you’re going to push yourself harder in 2021 to realise those goals you’ve set for yourself? The success stories from these three Saudis, who paved the way for other females, will impel you to become your best self.  

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Kholoud Attar

Go-getter Kholoud Attar was the first Saudi businesswoman to attain an import and film distribution license for films in the Kingdom. According to “Al Arabiya,” the savvy Jeddah-based initiator’s desire to show local filmmakers’ creations motivated her to acquire the license. And with cooperation from a team at the General Authority for Audiovisual Media, she was able to realise her goal of focusing on Saudi films.

Attar, who has been ranked by “Forbes” magazine as one of the most inspiring figures in Saudi, also founded “Design,” the Kingdom’s first design magazine, in 2007. The printed publication and networking events, followed by a digital platform, have helped keep creatives connected. Additionally, the entrepreneur, who has a Graphic Design degree from Dar Al-Hekma University, became the first woman to be appointed as a media manager in the history of Saudi football. Mecca-based Al-Wehda chose to hire Kholoud Abdel Rahman Attar Publishing House (KAAPH Media), Attar’s public relations firm and publishing house, to lead its media centre. Attar has undoubtedly gained a strong foothold in the field of Saudi media after founding and heading KAAPH Media.

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Sima Malak

As well as being renowned for mixing contemporary, high-class pieces with traditional architectural details, Sima Malak is acclaimed as one of the first women to launch an interior design firm in Saudi Arabia. It may have been a time when it wasn’t common to find female interior designers, but the self-starting creative didn’t hesitate to return to the Kingdom after receiving her BA and MA degrees in Interior Design from San Francisco State University. Armed with training from some leading interior design and architecture firms in the US, she became one of the first women to introduce her own interior design firm in the late1980s. By 2003, Malak became Co-Founder and designer at Sima Malak + Alssamoure Design Associates after partnering with long-time friend Sara Abdulrahman AlFaisal, another pioneering designer with her own business.

Known for its bespoke work, the well-established Riyadh-based design consultancy specialises in residential, corporate, commercial and hospitality projects. While most of these are local, Sima Malak + Alssamoure Design Associates, which caters to a discerning and exclusive clientele, has also completed projects in the US, France, Singapore, Hong Kong, Egypt, Lebanon and Bahrain, including the Arcapita Mosque in Bahrain Bay. 

Working with qualities like elegance, self-expression and close attention to detail, the designers at the leading boutique firm aim to create custom, welcoming spaces. As well as a mélange of contemporary pieces and antiques, the International Interior Design Association Award winners (in the Large Corporate Space category) add custom commissions for some extra creativity and innovation.

Image belongs to "Arab News"

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Aseel Alhamad

A passion for the automotive world led Aseel Alhamad to become a motorsports forerunner in her homeland. She was appointed as the first female board member of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation in December 2017. Alhamad, a noted motorsports enthusiast, was also the first woman in the Kingdom to import and own a Ferrari, allowing her a seat at the Ferrari Owners’ Club. Additionally, as a member of the International Automobile Federation, she was picked to represent Saudi Arabia at the Women in Motorsport Commission. Alhamad garnered attention in the wake of the landmark lifting of the female driving ban in Saudi too. She performed a celebratory lap of honour in a Renault E20 Formula One racing car, making her the first Saudi female national to drive a Formula One car. While she had driven all over the world, the lap that took place prior to the opening of the 2018 French Grand Prix, was her first in her home country. The Saudi has contributed to “Rose Auto” Magazine, the first women’s auto magazine in the Middle East, as well. 

As if making waves in one male-dominated arena wasn’t enough, Alhamad is also the Founder and Design Director of a successful engineering design company called IDEGREE DESIGN. Specialised in bespoke high-end designs, the firm has residential and commercial projects ranging from design to turn-key projects. 

As well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design Engineering from Prince Sultan University, the high-flier has an MBA from Riyadh’s Alfaisal University. Alhamad, a member of the Saudi Council of Engineers, has participated in a couple of speaking events, including the ‘Quality of Life Program’ under Vision 2030 and the FIA MENA Regional Congress. Additionally, she has won various prizes in drawing and painting competitions.

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