By Moniza Khokhar
July 14th, 2009
Still got the same old school picture of oppressed Saudi women on the brain? Think again. This week, Arab News Newspaper, The Middle East’s Leading English Language Daily, published a list of Saudi Arabia’s 20 top ass-kicking businesswomen. The list spans petroleum engineers to fashion designers. Not only do they run the show, they do it in an Abaya.
Amongst the named is Naeema Al-Shuhail, a fashion designer whose business includes selling clothes that preserve a hand-woven embroidery specific to the region. She explains her design philosophy, “Readymade items will never have that feeling of warmth,” she said. “These handmade pieces have a special feeling. They tell a story, either of sorrow, love or pathos. Each work is unique and has a spirit of its own. No two creations are alike and that is their beauty.” Her business gives traditional women a new outlet to express their art form and also can keep their culture alive.
We are also introduced to Huda Ghoson, Saudi Aramco’s director of Human Resources Policy and Planning Division. Humbly claiming that all her success is because of the direction from her parents, Huda says, “My mother was very influential in my decision to work for Saudi Aramco,” she says. “In fact, I do not think I would have been where I am today if it was not for my mother.” As a human resources professional, she also mentions that even though the kingdom is making huge strides in incorporating women in the workplace, it can do more … hope the administration is listening to more women like Huda!
Beyond the list, many other professional women in Saudi are getting a helping hand from government organizations. Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz has created a special fund to support women looking to develop their skills and businesses. Through completion of a technical workshop showing the importance of marketing, accounting, and management, these women are armed with a new set of skills to help them through their endeavors.
Not only are these women preserving tradition and representing women in a male dominated field, they are doing it with a grace all women can learn from. Continue breaking barriers ladies!
A full list of Arab News top 20 Saudi businesswomen can be found here. What do you think of the top 20? Were any of your role models missing from the list?
Photo Credit: Arab News