On International Women’s Day, We Celebrate Six Saudi Trailblazers
On this International Women's Day, we want to take a moment to recognize and celebrate all women who have left their mark across the world in different ways and in various fields and industries. Despite all odds, women the world over continue to break down barriers and let their voice and perspectives stand out. Indeed, there is no shortage of achievements and contributions made by incredible women and, when it comes to the Middle East, Saudi Arabian women have been shining. In the past few years especially, many Saudi women have led the way for others to follow and, as much as we'd love to mention and celebrate every one of these trailblazers, they are just too many to count. However, here are seven women you should get to know, each who have paved the way for others to follow:
Mashael Al-Obaidan and Dania Akeel
We'll start things off with the dynamic duo who made headlines at the Dakar Rally. In January 2022, Mashael Al-Obaidan and Dania Akeel became the first Saudi women to race in the main event, having made their debut through the women's team "Shero" the year before. They were also the first to acquire the appropriate license to participate in the popular motor rally in their home country, but they have also competed in other international rallies such as the Jordan Baja and the FIA World Cup.
Lulwah Al Homoud
Lulwah Al Homoud is an artist and curator with a passion for abstract art. Her digital artworks famously combine elements such as shapes and patterns, many of which were inspired by Islamic art, while others feature elements that come together to produce words or portraits. She also serves as curator in exhibitions such as "What Lies Within," in addition to running the Lulwah Al Homoud Art Foundation.
Yasmeen Al Maimani
Yasmeen Al Maimani made history by becoming the first Saudi woman to work as a commercial airline pilot. Having completed over 300 hours of training, in 2013, she obtained her license from the U.S.-based Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which she exchanged for a license issued by the Saudi-based General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA). In June 2019, she began piloting her first flight for Nesma Airlines, hence making her the first Saudi female pilot for a commercial airline.
Mishaal Ashemimry is an aerospace engineer, and the first Saudi woman to work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Having obtained her Bachelor in Science in Aerospace Engineering and Applied Mathematics in 2006, and a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering in 2007, she began working for NASA as a graduate research assistant on a NASA Marshall Space Flight Center project. There, she helped design and analyze a new thermal nuclear rocket engine for Mars Missions for NASA. Following her accomplishment, Ashemimry has served as a role model to aspiring students in STEM. She also received an award for Inspirational Woman of the Year at the Arab Woman Awards in 2015.
Safeya Binzagr is one of the first Saudi women to be prominent in Jeddah’s art scene, and the first artist to launch her own museum. Having obtained her degree in art in Egypt, she began hosting exhibitions throughout the 1960s and 70s, and even received the support of Saudi Aramco in 1976. Her artworks often included oil paintings, water colorings, drawings, pastels, and more. In addition, she is the author of the book “Saudi Arabia, An Artist's View of the Past,” and founder of the gallery and museum, Darat Safeya Binzagr.