The Pioneering Saudi Women To Follow This Saudi National Day
Annually, on September 23rd, Saudi Arabia celebrates the day it unified kingdoms of Nejd and Hejaz to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by royal decree from King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud in 1932.
It was only in 2005 that the day became a national holiday, as appointed by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and is today a day for celebrating the achievements, culture and heritage of the country.
Since 2017, the women of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia have seen some major changes taking place in their favor – from taking up senior and important positions in politics and across a number of industries, to having the freedom to drive, travel alone and become noted sportswomen in international arenas under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 scheme, Saudi National Day is just as much about celebrating Saudi women and the way they are changing the age-old gender biased narratives and paving the way for future generations of Saudi women.
Here are some important Saudi women you should be following this national day…
Shaima Saleh Al Husseini @shaimahusseini
Shaima Saleh Al Husseini has been a pioneer in the development of women’s sports within the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As the managing director for the Saudi Sports For All Federation (SFA), she was paving the way when the Saudi Greens Team, became the first Saudi women’s team ever to join an international women’s football event.
Three years ago, the Greens competed in the Global Goals World Cup (GGWCup) – a tournament that was launched to champion the role of sport in achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SGD).
Raha Moharrak @rahamoharrak
In 2013, Raha Moharrak became the first Saudi woman, and youngest Arab, to scale Mount Everest and in her adventurous career, she had also climbed Mount Vinson, Mount Elbrus, Aconcagua, Kala Pattar, Pico de Orizaba and Iztaccihuatl and had begun her climbing career with Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.
Proving that a Saudi woman has what it takes to achieve anything she puts her mind to, Moharrak also became the first Saudi Presenter for an adventure show in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the 2017 winner for Esquire Woman of the Year and Emirates Woman of the Year, and collaborated with international labels including Adidas, Estee Lauder, Coca Cola, Tag Heuer and Burberry.
Amy Roko @amyroko
Saudi social media icon and content creator, Amy Roko, is still going strong across her social platforms. Having first emerged as one to watch on Instagram in 2015, Roko has since amassed over 1.6 million followers, and uses her platforms to change the narrative and break down stereotypes that surround Arab women who choose to wear the niqab.
For the record- we’ve never seen Amy’s face but we can’t get enough of her Instagram posts, reels and stories! On her social media channels, Amy Roko shows that she lives her own life on her own terms and there is nothing anyone can say to stop her.
Mishaal Ashemimry @mashemimry
Mishaal Ashemimry is Saudi Arabia’s first female aerospace engineer, and the CEO of her own company, Mishaal Aerospace, as well as the first Saudi woman to join NASA. As she was studying for her Master’s degree, Ashemimry conducted research for NASA and wanted to be part of their efforts to design a nuclear missile with the ultimate goal of humans landing on and experiencing Mars.
Launching Mishaal Aerospace, her company manufactures rockets to send small satellites into low Earth orbit. To get to where she is today, Mishaal studied aeronautical engineering, obtained a pilot’s license, and learnt how to be a professional diver, all whilst being a professor at Miami University and an advisor to an American company that specializes in defense and space.
Sawsan Al Bahiti @sawsanalbahiti
Sawsan Albahiti is Saudi Arabia’s first professional Saudi soprano, an opera singer. It was during her second year of studying for her degree at the American University of Sharjah that Al Bahiti chose the choir singing course as an elective. Following Al Bahiti’s audition, in which she sang “Happy Birthday,” the teacher introduced her to new terms that would define her career as the first ever Saudi opera singer: soloist, opera, soprano. When she returned to Saudi Arabia after having obtained her degree, there were a lack of singing opportunities for Sawsan and focused on a career in marketing.
Keeping her passions alive and maintaining her vocal training, her life changed once again when Vision 2030 became a reality with its goals to celebrate cultural and artistic engagements and encourage inter-community and cross-cultural exchange. Vision 2030 helped Al Bahiti to finally share her talent and perform in her home country. Sawsan has garnered an outpouring of support from fellow sopranos and mentors, including vocal coaches from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium, and Strasbourg Opera House and is also an advisor to the Music Commission at the Ministry of Culture in the kingdom.
Salwa Radwi @salwaradwi_
KSA-based NFT pioneer, Salwa Radwi is the founder and CEO of the MENA region’s first NFT marketplace, Nuqtah. Salwa enables artists to create opportunities in the digital world and showcase and sell their creations in that space. Nuqtah’s the end goal is to create a genuine community that harnesses and invites a variety of art creators, collectors and enthusiasts.
Dania Akeel @dania.akeel
Dania Aqeel is the first Saudi woman to take part in motorcycle circuit racing. She competed in the UAE National Sportsbike Superseries (2019/2020) and won Rookie of the Year in the BMR600 Championship in Bahrain (2019/2020). A passionate motorsports athlete, Akeel met with a racing accident that made her reflect on her life, and led her to share her experiences with others on social media and other platforms, as well as sharing them in a published book, “Freefall,” by Saudi publishing house, Kaaph.
The book includes Dania’s experiences in the form of short stories – all of which are true. Following the recovery from her accident, Dania Akeel became the first Saudi female to participate in an International Rally Competition. She completed two rounds of the FIA Cross-Country Bajas World Cup, finishing 1st in the T3 Category and 8th overall in both races.