SUSRIS recently provided an exclusive interview with Samar Fatany, broadcaster, journalist, commentator and author, about her new book, “Modernizing Saudi Arabia.” We recommend you read the exclusive interview to learn more about the currents of change in the Kingdom. We suggest you add “Modernizing Saudi Arabia” to your reading list and suggest you order a copy for your friends and colleagues so they too will have an understanding of what’s happening in Saudi Arabia, why it’s happening and what more they can expect to see happen.
Today we provide for your consideration an excerpt from the book regarding the US-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum in Atlanta which was marked by a robust outreach effort by the Committee for International Trade, Saudi Chambers of Commerce that included Ms. Fatany and many other Saudi men and women. They participated in a host of events that formed the basis of building bridges between Americans and Saudis.
[For more about the US-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum series visit: http://us-saudiforum.com/]
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Excerpt from “Modernizing Saudi Arabia” – Businesss Opportunities Forum in Atlanta
Not many people outside our borders are aware of the existence of exceptional women in Saudi Arabia, so the presence of highly qualified women was a great surprise to a lot of participants at the US-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum held in Atlanta from Dec. 5-7, 2011.
The participation of highly competent and professional Saudi women certainly contributed to the success of the event. The Saudi Committee for International Trade (CIT) organized the forum together with US-Saudi Arabian Business Council and Saudi-US Trade Group in collaboration with the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the US Commercial Service. The Saudi women who took part in the forum were certainly an impressive demonstration of commercial and intellectual ability and were:
- Lubna Al-Olayan delivered the keynote speech with great eloquence. In her opening remarks, she brilliantly summarized the geopolitical challenges that the US and Saudi Arabia face today and gave an optimistic view of the future cooperation between the two countries. Lubna Olayan is a highly experienced financial leader and globally known. She is the CEO of Olayan Co., a private multinational enterprise. She was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and she sits on many boards and councils because of her extensive experience and expertise in corporate finance, international banking, distribution and manufacturing.
- Her sister, Hutham Olayan, moderated the session on opportunities for finance and investment with equal professionalism. She leads the Olayan Group’s activities in the Americas and has been elected to the board of directors of Morgan Stanley. She leads an organization that manages a diverse portfolio of US public and private equities and real estate based in New York. She is a founding member of the Arab Bankers Association of North America, a trustee of the conference board and a board member of the Institute for International Economics.
- Dr. Hanan Balkhy, executive director for infection control at the National Guard Hospital, moderated the panel of health and medical services. She represented the Saudi doctors well known in the field of medical research and health care.
- Dr. Salwa Alhazaa, professor of ophthalmology at Alfaisal University and head and consultant of ophthalmology, senior clinical scientist and consultant in genetics at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, gave an informative presentation in the panel discussing building the health-care sector through innovation and technology. Her logic and research findings impressed the audience. Dr. Alhazaa also participated in the outreach program to foster better relations with American women in business. The participants included outstanding Saudi women in the field of architecture, finance, information technology and entrepreneurship.
- Samra Alkuwaiz, a financial expert and lecturer at King Saud University is a board member and partner of Osool Capital in Riyadh. She has often been named among the most influential women in the region’s financial industry. Alkuwaiz has encouraged many Saudi women to participate in finance, invest in the stock market and build portfolios.
- Nadya Bakhurji founded her own architectural consultancy company, Riwaq. This was the first company to be owned by a woman. It is registered under the Saudi Council of Engineers. She is also the first Saudi woman to become a board member of the Saudi Council of Engineers and has campaigned for the recognition of Saudi female architects and engineers in the Kingdom.
- Nouf Alrakan is CEO of Alimtiaz Alamthal Trading Co. specializing in IT solutions, clothing, and food products. She has also established a new company representing the oil and gas industry in the Kingdom and embarked on setting up a manufacturing facility.
- Khadija Koshak leads a successful fashion-design business. She joined the program with her aspiring daughter who is currently studying communications in the US. Together they presented a bright picture of two generations of educated and greatly accomplished Saudi women.
The outreach initiative was one of the highlights of the Atlanta Forum where some of the most dynamic American female executives and entrepreneurs met with the delegation of professional Saudi women in a round table discussion aimed at promoting women in global business. In an open and frank dialogue,the Saudi women discussed issues concerning their negative image in the international community and projected an accurate picture of Saudi women. Saudi women, they said, have their own hopes and aspire to contribute to the progress and development of their society.
The forum concluded with a commitment to recognize the great potential of Saudi career women and to explore new business opportunities between the two countries.
At the end of the session, the hosts offered the Saudi delegation membership in the International Women’s Forum, (IWF), a global organization where leading women of the world are united in a network to promote better world leadership with new ideas and perspectives to make our world a better place. With great enthusiasm the Saudi women welcomed the opportunity to gain experience from the IWF to better serve their governments, corporations and academic institutions. The Saudi women maintained it was time they came out of their isolation and become global partners contributing to intercultural understanding, peace and global prosperity. They hoped that this dialogue would be the beginning of a long-term relationship between the American and Saudi women business communities
The international community can facilitate Saudi women’s participation and allow their contribution in joint projects between faith-based networks or humanitarian organizations. Their participation in initiatives that address global concerns wouid create a greater impact in fostering international understanding of the Muslim way of life. When given the chance women could play a more effective role by building trust and eliminating the elements of fear and suspicion that divide our world.
The CIT should be commended for their brave initiative to include a delegation of accomplished Saudi women in the forum. No doubt, the presence of highly qualified women had a strong impact and contributed to the success of the forum.
Muslim organizations should sponsor ore of these events to erase the Western misconceptions of Saudi women and encourage our capable women to excel and participate in global events to showcase their capabilities and willingness to contribute and develop the planet around them.
About Samar Fatany:
SAMAR H. FATANY former head of the English Service and Chief Broadcaster at Jeddah Radio Station, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Culture and Information, Saudi Arabia. She has introduced many cultural, religious and current events programs over a period of 30 years. Samar Fatany has conducted many interviews with prominent local and international political personalities. She has participated in the media coverage of many regional and global economic conferences. She has made significant contributions in social awareness campaigns and participated in global interfaith dialogue events. In her previous books, Saudi Perceptions and Western Misconceptions, Saudi Women Towards a New Era, and Saudi Reforms and Challenges, Fatany has addressed the threat of extremism, and highlighted the new era of empowered women in her society. She has also covered the many challenges facing Saudi Arabia and projected the ongoing reform movement in the desert Kingdom. Fatany is an active member of several local organizations, including the Committee for International Trade, CIT, Riyadh, and the Committee for International Relations, IRC, and the Committee for Youth Forums of the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs promoting youth diplomacy and supporting youth initiatives in Saudi Arabia today. She is currently a writer and columnist for the Saudi Gazette.
This book portrays ambitious government initiatives to implement reforms and describes progressive attempts to help Saudi Arabia meet the challenges of the 21st century. It gives an overall picture of the present situation and the progress achieved so far. It also highlights the role of women and youth as the engines for change. The book identifies women professionals in leadership roles and projects the participation of the Kingdom’s youth in nation building. The chapters outline the struggle of decision makers to deal with new realities and emphasize the process of modernizing the vast and both physically and culturally diverse region of this country. Source: Introduction, “Modernizing Saudi Arabia” For more information and to buy the book, visit Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1482509989/saudiusrelati-20