4 Saudi Female Architects That Helped Shape The Nation
On the occasion of Saudi National Day!
Since its founding, Saudi Arabia has played a key role as an economic powerhouse in the Gulf region, and also as a model when it comes to modernized infrastructure, urban planning, and stunning skyscrapers. As the Kingdom is fulfilling the goals of its Vision 2030 national strategy, it can only go up from here. On this inspiring journey are the nation’s women, many who have been shaping and continue to shape Saudi Arabia, such as its civil engineers, architects, urban planners, and more. So, here is a look at four trailblazers who have been instrumental in building the nation, literally:
In recent years, more and more female architects are making their mark across the Kingdom. Enter Nadia Bakhurji, President of Nadia Bakhurji Architectural and Interior Design Consultants, board member of the Saudi Council of Engineers, and former Secretary General of the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation. In 2007, Bakhurji was amongst the first women in the Kingdom to be granted an architectural consultant license, giving her the chance to launch her own career. She has since worked with major clients including the American telecommunication company, AT&T. In recent years, Bakhurji has become famous for her stunning architectural designs and projects, earning her an award at the 11th Middle East Women Leaders Awards in 2012. She has also campaigned for more women to get involved in architecture, as well as engineering, education, and business.
Shaimaa Al-Shayeb is famous for her supervisions at construction sites, and with projects involving the reinforcement of concrete steels and foundations. She is also best known for her contributions in flood management and water discharge projects. In 2014, she started a Twitter account known to be Saudi Arabia's first platform for like-minded female engineers, causing it to go viral across the Kingdom. The former graduate of Sydney University of Technology, in Australia, is also known for her comprehensive research on concrete technology, which was considered the best written research by the University of Sydney.
Considered a trailblazer in her field, Azzah Aldeghather is best known as Saudi Arabia's first licensed female architect and consultant. But, perhaps more stunningly, is how she got climbed to this position as a woman who broke glass ceilings across the Kingdom, inspiring other woman to pursue a career in architecture. While studying at the American University of Beirut, in the 1980s, Aldeghather discovered her passion for architecture, and would enroll at Syracuse University in New York to further her career. Ultimately, she was looking forward to being an architect in her home country, Saudi Arabia. Although hesitant at first, her parents supported her on her endeavor. But, being a woman in a male-dominated society, Aldeghather soon found herself overcoming hurdles to fulfill her dream. In 2005, she took the time to write to King Abdullah over the matter and, over two years later, received a royal decree allowing her to pursue her career freely. Currently, Aldeghather is the owner of Mimaria Architectural Consultants, and has participated in international competitions. She is also working on researching theories on the relationship of Islamic principles to modern urban planning.
Fawzia Al-Kerri is another trailblazer in the field who broke glass ceilings by becoming the first Saudi woman to register a contracting business. In fact, just like Azzah Aldeghather, she benefited from a royal decree that allowed her to follow her dream. She is best known for her background in art and design, hence the ability to provide invaluable input when it comes to interior and exterior designs. She is also a strong believer in getting more women involved in the field, and is definitely not afraid of healthy competition from men.