September 23, 2020, marks the 90th official Saudi National Day. It commemorates the renaming of the Kingdom of Nejd and Hejaz to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This was by royal decree from King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud in 1932. Fifteen years ago, in 2005, it was made a national holiday in 2005 by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
In recent years many changes have taken place for the country, particularly in the realm for women’s rights and female empowerment.
The changes are part of the many initiatives under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 scheme, an ambitious post-oil economic plan, which has a major focus on women’s rights in the Kingdom.Just three months after he stepped into the role in 2017, the Crown Prince unveiled in a royal decree, women would be able to secure driving licenses from June 2018 and he has gone on to do much more.
Then, in March 2018, it was announced by the Ministry of Justice that women who are divorced in the country would be able to instantly retain custody of their children.
Women are a celebrated part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is why this Saudi National Day EW has rounded up eight incredible women you should be following. Furthermore, we celebrate all the women from the Kingdom this Saudi National Day and the amazing work they do for their country.
HRH Princess Lamia
Her Royal Highness Princess Lamia Bint Majid Al Saud has made it her life’s mission to help others, particularly advocating for women. Through her incredible philanthropic work, Her Royal Highness is changing the world, one incredible story at a time.
“If you are fortunate enough to have access to resources or a raised platform, it is your responsibility to support and empower those who are not as fortunate,” Princess Lamia recently told EW in an interview for ‘The Power Issue’.
Harnessing this desire to help others, Her Royal Highness began working with Alwaleed Philanthropies – an organisation founded by His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud 40 years ago. Initially serving as the Executive Manager of Media & Communication, she was appointed Secretary-General of the organisation in 2016. Passionate about advocating for women’s empowerment both in Saudi Arabia and globally, in her role with Alwaleed Philanthropies, Princess Lamia has been able to lead and work on a whole host of impactful and fulfilling projects to help women and youth.
Instagram: @lamia1507 Twitter: @lamia1507
HRH Princess Reema
Her Royal Highness Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud is an iconic female figure in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, consistently advocating for women in the region and works tirelessly to expand opportunities for Saudi women.
Princess Reema has been a member of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee since 2017 and of the IOC Women in Sports Commission since 2018. She then became president of the Mass Participation Federation in October 2018.
However, it was last year that she made history becoming the first female to be Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States. And just a few months ago, another history-making moment happened for Princess Reema – she became the first Saudi female ambassador to be officially elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
As the first female filmmaker and director from Saudi Arabia, Haifaa al-Mansour has been breaking boundaries since day one.
In her body of work, although she didn’t initially intend to do so, she often focusses on important women’s issues. Her first short film released in 1995 Who? and documentary Women Without Shadows, released in 2005, both cover the customs of the abaya.
In a recent interview with EW, she explained why it’s crucial to march to the beat of her own drum. “I really wanted to tell a story about a culturally conservative, traditional woman who decides to embrace the changes happening now and go out there and seize the moment,” she said of her work.
Social media sensation Amy Roko isn’t here to be judged by anyone and has been a beacon of light to many women since she started her Instagram account five years ago. Having garnered a huge social media following since first emerging on Instagram in 2015, the Saudi Arabian native continues to break down stereotypes surrounding females from the GCC region and the niqab. What exactly inspired her to resist stereotypes put upon her for being a niqabi is ironically the exact reason she did it.
“Society’s initial resistance towards me inspired that,” she told EW in a recent interview. “I couldn’t imagine that just being myself and who I am would garner pushback. I don’t like being dictated to. I really do what I want, so I started showing people how I live my life to the fullest and based on my rules.”
Aseel Al-Hamad is the first female to be appointed as a board member of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation. She’s a hugely successful F1 racing driver in this region and has made the Kingdom a notable destination for the Grand Prix.
Raha Moharrak became the first Saudi woman to scale Everest back in 2013. Throughout her career, this adventure-seeker has also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Vinson, Mount Elbrus, Aconcagua, Kala Pattar, Pico de Orizaba and Iztaccihuatl.
Haifa Al Mogrin
Considered one of the most powerful people in Saudi Arabia, Princess Haifa Al-Mogrin continues to break down barriers in the Kingdom. Earlier this year she was appointed the Saudi Arabian representative to UNESCO.
Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini
Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini is the managing director for the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) and has been vital in the development of women’s sport in the Kingdom. She was right at the forefront when the Saudi Greens Team, which became the first Saudi women’s team ever to join an international event. In 2019, 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) No. 5.
Al-Husseini is incredibly proud of the change that’s happened in the Kingdom, and she only hopes this continues. “I hope to see more Saudi women become the faces of sport in Saudi,” she told EW recently. “Already we have a few very well-known professional athletes and some fitness professionals that are very well-known at the community level as well.”