From climbing the heights of Mount Everest to swimming across the depths of the Red Sea, the exemplary women of Saudi Arabia are seemingly unstoppable. Not only are these trailblazers helping to shape and change a range of industries, but they’re also contributing to the Saudi economy, shattering glass ceilings and paving the way for generations to come while they’re at it.
This September 23rd, Saudi Arabia will be celebrating its 93rd Saudi National Day. And what better way to celebrate than by championing the inspirational Saudi women helping put The Kingdom on the map? From TV stars to astronauts literally reaching for the stars, they’re a force to be reckoned with.
Rayyanah Barnawi made headlines when she became the first Saudi woman to venture into space, marking a significant moment for the Kingdom and Arab women around the world. She served as a mission specialist on a privately led Axiom 2 mission to the International Space Station – the first expedition of Saudi’s new astronaut programme.
She’s also a biomedical researcher with nearly a decade of experience in cancer stem-cell research. With her eyes set on the stars, she achieved something extraordinary that women in Saudi once considered unreachable.
Raha Moharrak was the first Saudi woman and the youngest Arab to summit Mount Everest – proving that there’s no mountain high enough to hold women back from conquering their dreams.
Not to mention that this Saudi mountaineer has also scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Vinson, Mount Elbrus, Iztaccihuatl, Kala Pattar, Aconcagua and Pico de Orizaba. Impressive, right? Be sure to give her Instagram a follow for your regular dose of positivity and motivation.
HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan
Princess Reema is a renowned global figure with an impressive list of accolades that just keeps growing. She made history as Saudi Arabia’s first ambassador to the United States and she’s dedicated her time towards empowering women and promoting their rights. She’s also well known for her philanthropic work.
Her main vision is to bring women out from the sidelines and to watch them lead the way. Shortly before the Olympics, she was appointed as the Vice President for Women’s Affairs of the General Sports Authority in 2016. She then went on to become the first Saudi woman to be appointed to the International Olympic Committee in 2020.
HRH Princess Lamia bint Majid Al Saud
A champion for gender equality, Her Royal Highness Princess Lamia Bint Majid Al Saud is the Secretary General and member of the Board of Trustees at Alwaleed Philanthropies. Using her privilege as a Royal to listen to and help those in need, she works on several initiatives that pave the way for positive change. She also works to support women in various sectors and to tackle common misconceptions, encouraging female craftsmanship and spreading awareness of the legal rights of women.
A voice for the unheard who helps the vulnerable, she works relentlessly to combat inequalities, provide resources and create opportunities for women. At the Aid & Trade Conference in London, she was the first to receive a unique “Change Maker Award”, recognising her benevolence and humanitarian efforts globally.
The undeniably talented Mishaal made history by being the first female aerospace engineer in the GCC, as well as the first Saudi woman to work with NASA. She’s also the CEO of her own company, Mishaal Aerospace.
Fascinated by all things outer space, she knew her calling from a young age, and on her journey, she’s had to make tough decisions and overcome obstacles that have made her even more determined and resilient. Not only has she helped put the Kingdom at the forefront of the aerospace industry, but through her work, she’s a huge source of inspiration for Arab youth and women.
Sofana R. Dahlan is a social entrepreneur and accomplished Saudi lawyer. She’s also the founder of the first all-women law firm in Saudi and was one of the first three female lawyers to be granted permission to practice law in Saudi. Through her work, she’s achieved noteworthy success when it comes to helping protect human rights, disputing settlements and resolving conflicts.
She’s also created numerous thriving initiatives. Among them is Kayan Spaces – a creative membership-based co-working space – and Tashkeil, which encourages, sponsors and supports creative entrepreneurs.
Arwa Al Banawi
Arwa Al Banawi is a gifted designer whose storytelling brand is all about propagating Arab culture and empowering women through fashion. Inspired by her Saudi roots, she embeds her rich heritage into all her stylish, edgy designs.
She’s collaborated with major players like KFC and Adidas, making her mark on the global fashion scene. She also places a strong emphasis on sustainability, and her brand promotes feminism to help women feel more confident in their skin.
Haifaa Al-Mansour became the first Saudi Arabian film director when she released her first feature film Wadjda in 2012. The film was shot entirely in the Kingdom and was the first Saudi production to be submitted for consideration at the Academy Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film.
The highly acclaimed movie has won many awards at film festivals across the globe, and Al Mansour went on to produce two other feature films.
Dubai Bling star Lojain Omran is famed for shaking up the media scene. Acclaimed as one of the most influential media personalities in the Middle East, the TV host and social media personality has carved a niche for herself in the industry, with her charming personality and confidence allowing her to gain enormous reach. But she also uses her influence to make a positive impact and support humanitarian causes.
With countless awards to her name, she’s firmly committed to promoting tolerance and was named the ambassador of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Award for Tolerance in 2016.
More power to the women of Saudi!