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Saudi Women Step Out of the Ordinary, Shine Worldwide | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Saudi Arabia’s contingent takes part in the athletes parade during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Damam- Over the last years, Saudi women have risen to the challenge, overcome limits and set a benchmark for their counterparts across the globe.

By international standards, Saudi women have broken records in both academic advances and professionalism, adding the archive of Saudi-earned accolades on venturing for unprecedented successes.

Launched by Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, nicknamed Mr. Everything, the Kingdom’s vision for national transformation and diversification of the economy is focused on fulfilling Saudi Arabia’s dream of prosperity and unlocking the talent, potential, and dedication of both young women and men.

Earlier in May Saudi monarch King Salman, in recognition of women’s contribution to society issued a decree concerning opportunities for women in the kingdom.

This decree included two parts. The first part orders government agencies to list services that women can seek from the government without permission from a male guardian (usually a father or husband). The second part of the decree directs organizations to provide transportation for female employees.

The United Nations

Thoraya Obaid, by all means an exceptional lady, is one of the many Saudi women spearheading their countries’ efforts in global domains. Obaid held the United Nations Population Funds Executive Director post and was the UN Under-Secretary-General from 2000-2010.

Obaid has received many awards and honors, the most important of which being Japan’s most prestigious award, the ‘Order of the Rising Sun’, which is presented by the Emperor to persons with long and commendable service.

Adah Almutairi, another notable Saudi woman, rocked Western media with her scientific breakthrough in pharmaceutical chemistry, Bioengineering, and NanoEngineering. She has introduced the first polymeric nanoparticle to release a drug in response to concentrations of hydrogen peroxide characteristic of inflammation.

Cancer Research

Pushing the frontier of fighting cancer further, Saudi Physician Dr. Khawla Al Khuraya directs the Research Center at King Fahad National Children’s Cancer Center of King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center.

She obtained her medical degree from King Saud University, then enrolled in the Pathology Residency program at Georgetown University Hospital in 1995 in Washington, D.C. She obtained her board certification in clinical pathology and completed her fellowship in Molecular Diagnostics at the National Cancer Institute in the United States.

Dr. Al Khuraya is also a member of several associations and institutes such as the College of American Pathologist, the American Association for Cancer Research and the United States-Canadian Academy of Pathology. In January 2010, King Abdullah conferred the prestigious “First Rank King Abdulaziz Medal” on Dr. Al Khuraya in recognition of her achievements in science that have made her a prominent international figure in cancer research.

Adding to her well-established record, Dr. Al Khuraya awarded as Young Physician Award for Research by Harvard Medical School Dubai Center (HMSDC) Tamayoz Award in Dubai, UAE on Apri 19, 2007.


Next on the list of Saudi prominent women is Dr. Hayat Sindi who is famous for making major contributions to point-of-care medical testing and biotechnology. Sindi’s laboratory work at Harvard earned her a spot with four other scientists in a documentary film supported by the Executive Office of the President of the United States in order to promote science education among young people.

During her studies at Harvard, Dr. Sindi took a class by Professor George Whitesides that was working on using paper and adhesive tape to create a device that could reliably and reproducibly measure protein and sugar levels in urine and blood.

Inspired by the idea, and with Whitesides’ approval, Dr. Sindi created a team consisting of classmates and colleagues and formed a non-profit organization called Diagnostics For All to offer diagnostic tools micro-fabricated in paper which would allow healthcare workers to diagnose and treat those who did not usually have access to medical care.

Business World

Since her appointment as Secretary-General and Chief Executive of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce in 2007, Dr. Afnan Al-Shuaiby has excelled in her efforts to promote trade between Britain and the Arab World.

Dr. Al-Shuaiby was educated at King Saud University in Riyadh graduating with a degree in English Literature and went on to complete a Masters of Art in Educational Administration at the American University in Washington DC.

She holds a PhD from the George Washington University in Washington DC in Leadership Administration. She also holds a certificate in Peace and Conflict Resolution from the School of International Service at the American University Washington DC and has a certificate in Executive Education from the Harvard Kennedy School. Previously, Dr. Al-Shuaiby worked as Advisor to the President of the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council in Washington DC.

All the more, Dr. Al-Shuaiby was named ‘Diplomat of the Year’ for the Middle East in 2011 and received the Diplomat Award, recognizing her distinguished achievements as a foreign diplomat in London.