Arab women urged to tell their stories as London awards celebrate inspiring females

The photo shows winner posing with awards at the annual Arab Women of the Year Awards ceremony in London, United Kingdom. (Photo courtesy: London Arabia Organization)
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Updated 19 March 2023

Arab women urged to tell their stories as London awards celebrate inspiring females

  • There are no set categories for the annual awards and they are selected every year
  • This year’s theme 'Tell Her Story' was part of organizer’s 'Unlock Her Future' campaign

LONDON: Arab women are being encouraged to tell their stories to break down stereotypes associated with abuse and violence, and help empower and inspire younger female generations.

The Arab Women of the Year Awards, which is organized by the London Arabia Organization, held a lavish ceremony in the UK capital on Wednesday to recognize and celebrate remarkable achievements made by Arab women during the past year, in the presence of British and Arab royalty, diplomats, ministers, and industry leaders.

Dr. May Chidiac, a journalist and former Lebanese minister, received the Achievement in Media Activism Award for her work spanning nearly four decades, and for founding the May Chidiac Foundation Media Institute — a nongovernmental organization dedicated to research and education on media, human rights, democracy, and social welfare issues.

Chidiac, who survived a horrific assassination attempt by car bomb in Jounieh, Lebanon, in 2005 and returned to work as a broadcast journalist in 2006 after undergoing more than 40 surgeries, said that she was humbled to have received the award.

She told Arab News: “I can’t tell you how much I appreciated this recognition because seeing so many Arab women celebrated today, so many famous faces we met from different sectors — we can go from politics, activism, journalism, space, technology, to influencers — that means we are putting our finger in this world wherever women are achieving success stories.”

There are no set categories for the annual awards and they are selected every year to celebrate outstanding women and their achievements, regardless of their background or chosen field.



Kuwaiti Dr. Nada Al-Shammari, partner and chief inspiration officer at Orbital Space — a UAE-based company that works to make space accessible for everyone — received the Achievement in Innovation Award and is the first female to be recognized by the organization in the space field.

She said that in the last 10 years there had been a rise in the number of Gulf Cooperation Council-based private companies entering the space sector with the potential of becoming pioneers, and a lot of the companies were made up of Gulf youth.

Al-Shammari said: “We hope to engage the youth through space missions and space engagement activities to get passionate about, get connected with space and be the future of space leaders, not only for our region but the whole world.”

She added that Orbital Space — as a member of the private sector — had been pioneering with the Kuwaiti and Emirati governments to engage and widen the circle of participation to get more people into the space sector.

She said: “I would like to see Kuwait getting much further into the space sector and supporting more private entities to come into the space sector, but I would also like to see the first Kuwaiti young woman moving toward becoming the first astronaut in Kuwait.”

This year’s theme was “Tell Her Story,” which is part of the organization’s “Unlock Her Future” campaign that sought to challenge institutions, organizations, and individuals to confront the harsh obstacles that face young Arab girls, such as violence against women in the form of honor killing and child marriage.

Young girls during the ceremony shared stories of comments and criticism they had faced and how the campaign was able to support them.

Omar Bdour, CEO of the London Arabia Organization, said he used to disregard stories of women being abused or harassed as the common conception was that it was the woman’s fault.

He added: “Now I have a young daughter and sometimes I wonder when I laughed about it, will someone laugh about the same comments [if they came from my daughter]? So that’s why I feel I need to change.”

Bdour said women are assaulted and raped in the West, but if they go to the police they are protected, whereas in the Arab world, “they will ask, are you sure you want to do this, why are you putting yourself through this, what were you wearing at that time, are you sure your family is going to be fine with it?”

He said he felt ashamed of how he used to think, and there was a need to think differently, while adding that he hopes to see other men also change their views.

Among those recognized for their achievements were Bahrain’s Sheikha May Al-Otaibi in education, Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush in diplomacy, Emirati Sheikha Fatima bint Hazza Al-Nahyan in cultural development, former Jordanian Minister of Social Development Khawla Armouti in community service, Lebanese influencer and model Nour Arida in social impact, Yemeni mathematician Manahel Thabet in scientific development, and Syrian athlete Dima Aktaa in community spirit award.

Jordanian journalist Caroline Faraj, who won the Achievement in Media Award last year, said it was great to see all the new women achievers not only recognized in the Arab world, but also in London, and their stories heard in Britain.

Faraj, who is vice president and editor-in-chief of CNN Arabic, said: “This organization was able to find these people, these women, and also to give them a floor, to give them a voice, so I’m really happy that I was part of those who got the award last year, but also I’m happy that every year I’m getting to know more women and more achievers and more voices from the Arab world.”

She said it was important for women to tell their stories but it remained “a challenge” and as part of CNN Arabic’s 20th anniversary, the channel launched an initiative called “Her Story” last year to provide free training and coaching for women in telling their stories.

“Anybody should be able to tell their stories so that they are able to be heard,” she said. “We need to train ourselves not only to tell but also to listen [and] we should really work together to do it, and do it properly.”



Saudi Arabia, Syria in talks to resume consular services — Saudi foreign ministry

Updated 24 March 2023

Saudi Arabia, Syria in talks to resume consular services — Saudi foreign ministry

  • Move comes after Saudi Arabia and Iran decided earlier this month to resume diplomatic relations
  • Last month Riyadh said consensus was growing among Arab nations that Syrian isolation was “not workable”

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Syria are in talks to resume consular services between the two countries, Al-Ekhbariya TV said on Thursday.

“Within the framework of the Kingdom’s keenness to facilitate the provision of necessary consular services between the two nations, discussions are underway with officials in Syria to resume consular services,” the TV channel reported, citing a Saudi foreign ministry official.

The report added that the statement from the foreign ministry’s source was in response to international media reports from earlier on Thursday.

The move comes after Saudi Arabia and Iran decided earlier this month to resume diplomatic relations and reopen embassies in both countries, following a China-brokered deal.

In a phone call on Wednesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan spoke with his Iranian counterpart, Hussein Amir Abdollahian, about holding a bilateral meeting in the near future.

On February 19, Prince Faisal said consensus among Arab countries was growing that Syrian isolation was “not workable”, adding that dialogue with Damascus was needed “at some point” at least with regards to the “humanitarian angle.”

He also said on March 8 engagement with Syria might eventually lead to its return to the Arab League, but that at the time, it was “too early to discuss.”

Saudi Civil Defense warns of thunderstorms, dust storms

Updated 24 March 2023

Saudi Civil Defense warns of thunderstorms, dust storms

JEDDAH: The General Directorate of Saudi Civil Defense has urged residents to take precautionary measures against thunderstorms and dust storms that are likely to affect some regions between Friday and Monday. 

The organization, acting on information from the National Center of Meteorology, said the Makkah region will be affected by moderate to heavy rains that may lead to torrential flows. The areas of Taif, Maysan, Adham, Al-Khurmah, Al-Ardiyat, Turbah, Rania, Al-Muwayh, Qia, Khulais, Al-Kamil, Al-Jumum, Bahra, Al-Lith, and Al-Qunfudhah are expected to be hit.

The Riyadh region is also expected to suffer, including the capital, Al-Kharj, Wadi Al-Dawasir, As-Sulayyil, Afif, Al-Duwadmi, Shaqra, Al-Zulfi, Al-Majma’ah, Al-Quwa’iyah, Al-Ghat, Hotat Bani Tamim, Al-Aflaj, Thadiq, Ramah, Al-Muzahimiyah, Al-Diriyah, Dhurma, Huraymila and Al-Dalam.

Authorities stressed the need to stay away from areas where torrents gather, and not to swim in dangerous places. 

Residents have been advised to adhere to instructions announced through the media. 

The regions of Asir, Al-Baha, Jazan, Najran, Madinah, Hail, Tabuk, Al-Jawf, the northern borders, Al-Qasim and the eastern borders are also expected to be affected.

Moderate rains and winds resulting in dust storms are expected in the Makkah region, including Jeddah and Rabigh.

The Civil Defense has stressed the need to stay away from areas where torrents gather, and not to swim in dangerous places.

Residents have been advised to adhere to instructions announced through the media. 


Saudi Arabia marks World Meteorological Day

Updated 24 March 2023

Saudi Arabia marks World Meteorological Day

JEDDAH: World Meteorological Day, observed on March 23 every year, is celebrated this year under the theme “The Future of Weather, Climate and Water Across Generations.”

It aims to join efforts at all national, regional and international levels to address the causes of extreme weather events and climate change, as well as the increasing scarcity of water resources.

The occasion also falls on the anniversary of the World Meteorological Organization’s establishment in 1950. The organization acts as an international umbrella that deals with weather and climate predictions, and serves as an effective channel for international cooperation in this vital area of development, urbanization and stability of humans and living organisms on the planet.

Through this year’s theme, the organization aims to pay tribute to the 24-hour national services of the meteorological and hydrological facilities, which collect and consolidate weather prediction data. 

Saudi Arabia is one of the founding states of the organization and undertook significant work in the field of meteorology at the local, regional and international levels. Its work in this regard is reflected in its functions on meteorology and climate, as well as through eight regional and international centers.

These centers are the Jeddah Regional Communication Center, the Regional Center for Drought Monitoring and Early Warning, the Jeddah Regional Climate Center, the Jeddah Global Information System Center, the Operational Information Center for Air Navigation Services, the Jeddah Historical Information Rescue Center, the Atmospheric and Hydrological Research Center, and the Agricultural Meteorology Research Center. 

Jeddah authorities destroy 40 tons of ‘unsafe’ meals

Updated 23 March 2023

Jeddah authorities destroy 40 tons of ‘unsafe’ meals

JEDDAH: Local health authorities destroyed 40 tons of Ramadan meals in Umm Al-Salam in a building that was used to process and store food.

It came as part of the municipality’s efforts to combat health violations and improve the urban landscape, as well as monitor standards in commercial and health institutions, contributing to the safety and security of citizens and visitors.

The municipality said that inspection teams examined a building in Al-Mahameed neighborhood that was used as a warehouse to prepare and store pastries and desserts.

Inspectors found that food was processed near restrooms, and discovered insects and expired items, in addition to improper food storage practices and poor levels of hygiene. The spoiled food items were confiscated and destroyed, and legal procedures were immediately taken to close the site.

The municipality added that it carries out inspection tours to follow up on activities related to public health. 

It commended the cooperation of citizens and residents in improving services by reporting violations through the Baladi application, or the unified center, through the phone number 940. 


Muslim World League chief, Malaysian PM meet in Makkah

Updated 24 March 2023

Muslim World League chief, Malaysian PM meet in Makkah

MAKKAH: Muslim World League Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa met with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in Makkah on Thursday.

They  discussed the organization’s initiatives of building bridges between communities based on shared values, and joint cooperation to tackle extremism.

Saudi Arabia and Malaysia enjoy strong brotherly ties.

Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Ibrahim’s trip to the Kingdom “reflects the special bond and long-standing relationship with the Kingdom and will provide an excellent opportunity for both sides to elevate bilateral relations and cooperation.”