Saudi Arabia: Who is the Most Fascinating Saudi of 2010?

Many of the world’s news organizations are beginning their 2010 lists of most significant events, most influential person, richest person, best humanitarian, etc.  I would like for American Bedu to have its own list made from the contributions of readers.  Who do you believe has been the most fascinating Saudi of 2010 and why?  This Saudi does not need to be a well known individual to make the list.

I will start with my own contributions with my husband, Abdullah, at the top of my list.  Why was he fascinating?  He was the embodiment of everything one wants to see and hear that is positive of a Saudi national.  He was not hesitant to speak his mind or agree to disagree, even on sensitive issues.  He had a responsible and sensitive position.  His contributions made positive and often significant changes in international relations. His mind was always open to new concepts and he loved to explore.  He had a special gift of being able to converse with anyone at any level.  He knew how to make individuals feel immediately comfortable, welcomed and relaxed.  He would not compromise on his beliefs or ethics.  He married a Westerner (me) but was always a true and loyal patriot of his country and to his faith.  This gentle man took great joy in helping and giving.  He could easily recognize individuals who were in grief or trouble and would reach out to help.  Most of the time these individuals would not even know he had been the one to help him for he preferred to make his contributions quietly in the background without any fuss or fanfare.  He was a strong fighter against the leukemia that eventually took him down.  Yet even as his body slowly deteriorated his spiritual side rose and grew.  He fought his disease with dignity and he died with dignity.  His presence touched anyone who had the honor and joy of knowing him.

Another individual on my list I will not identify by name but I must mention him as another fascinating Saudi.  This is a noble man that in spite of a highly responsible position will always be there for those who need him.  It does not matter where in the world he may be, if there is a call reaching out for him to listen no matter how trivial an issue may seem, he will make the time to be there.  He became another big brother to me and especially so in the last days of Abdullah’s life and even now as I struggle with closure issues.  This man has a beautiful spirit and will not allow anything to get him down or in his way.  He is a person everyone wants to know is one their side.  He is an outstanding negotiator and can always see every side of an issue.

I can write page upon page about the fascinating Saudis I have met.  However I am stopping at three.  I am ending my list with Nader Al-Wahebi.  Nader is part of the new rising generation of Saudis in the Kingdom.  He is an excellent role model  of all Saudis.  He loves looking over his sisters and mother ensuring that they are happy and have their needs met.  He chose to turn down an opportunity to work outside of the Kingdom in order to remain with his family.  This man is full of compassion, empathy and a love to give.  Even my own husband after meeting Nader remarked that “here is a man with a white heart.”  Nader has an open mind while always true to his faith.  He will remain forever fascinating to me for many reasons but perhaps most so for his role in reuniting me with my cats. In this endeavor he demonstrated his ability to organize and organize quickly within an environment (Saudi) that has its own sense of time.  But most of all, he actually drove Tripod and Saheba from Riyadh to Doha and still continues to be among my best friends!  I write that comment in jest but one has to know and experience Saheba in a car for even two minutes to then understand the significance of Nader driving with them in the back seat for 7 hours!  That deserves a global award in patience and compassion!

Now I reach out and ask YOU to share who your fascinating Saudis are and why!  I’m really looking forward to reading the contributions.

12 Responses

  1. سعاد الشمري

    Suad Al Shammary.

    Why? Because of her lucid advocacy of women’s rights.

    I’ll write more in due time.

  2. @Occupied: I look forward to hearing more!

  3. Although I know that the main stream media in the US likes to highlight these stories sometimes for their own war-mongering/incitement/political posturing purposes (check out this new post on regarding ex-Commentary blogger Jennifer Rubin’s article on WaPo), I do, however hold a somewhat reserved admiration for Suad Al Shammary and think she merits being 2010 person of the year.

    Suad is a simple woman. By simple, I do not mean that she is not sophisticated or not smart. She is simple in the sense that she does not put on ‘airs’, as far as I can tell from her interaction with the media. That has been a sticking point for me regarding so-called female human rights advocates in Saudi Arabia.

    Suad is a lawyer, and holds a Sharia degree, which is something I admire about her given the fact that she chose to actually use her knowledge to stand up for women’s rights. She is an eloquent and outspoken person, worth 10 men. She is the first Saudi female lawyer to break tradition and taboo. She was smart enough to cite the fact that there are no laws preventing women from practicing law and defending cases in court on their own. She was brave enough to go into a court room and practice law, and stand proud in the face of the judge.

    Suad suffered personal tragedies I would not wish on my worst enemy. Suffice it to say that she has been able to make lemon meringue pies with her lemons, and has let her personal experiences guide her to support the weak and helpless in our patriarchal social structure, women and children. Although she can certainly claim a connection to the elite set, she has, however, not become detached to the failings of Saudi society.

    Many of her critics (either Wahhabists – too outspoken and outgoing, or the snobbish elitist set – not refined enough) do not like the way she presents herself. Some elitists even claim that she is too ignorant to be a female or human rights advocate.

    Suad has successfully defended a teenage girl who has not been able to lead a normal life because of the fact that she could not produce identification papers for her or her child without her ‘mahram’s consent (in her case a husband who kicked her and her child out on the street), or a woman who’s ex-husband refused to even let her see their children.

    You can watch Suad in action on Alaan TV. Just do a search on YouTube for سعاد الشمري posted by alaantube:

  4. Maha al-( ***) , , a saudi OR nurse, the best there is , for her unconditional love and support and her compassion and charm and her v v open mind inspite of all the difficulties she has faced. Another woman would have run screaming, she stayed and helps countless women , is the darling of the medical staff in KFMC, loves saudi and is so calm and pious. She welcomed us with open arms and showed me everything i love about saudi , i miss the many trips to the souk she accompanied me on and so happy to receive her special pakage every Eid .

    Miss you maha.

  5. Thank you very much, Carol, for your nice words. I am most honored by your post, especially by Abdullah’s remark.

    I have to say though, I am very happy and lucky to have been able to help you with the cats. I must also mention here the other people who helped transferring the plan we sketched on email messages to reality: Michelle, Aafke, Wadeea and Robin.

    Redha, I have no idea who your Maha is, but I wanted to say that your comment is just sooo wonderful. I started reading your comment with a small smile on my face and ended it with a BIG GRIN from ear to ear. Saudi people like Maha do make me feel proud and happy. Thank you for sharing that with us, and thank you and Carol too for being so sincere and appreciative.

  6. Carol,

    I’d vote for you even though you are’t Saudi. : ) You’ve done a wonderful job of bridging some of the gaps of misunderstanding and misinformation about Saudis as well as Saudi Arabia.

  7. Anonymous and Nader are very fascinating!
    I always see this image of Nader driving that long long way towards Qatar, in a not so very big car, but with a screaming couple of cats, especially Sabiha, all the way!

    Reading about Suad al Shammary: she sounds like a very fascinating person.

  8. i must say my in-laws ‘my saudi family.’
    i have never heard them complain of there country like so many foreigners who come here and some [SOME] natives who travel abroad…im not sure if they are fascinating, but definitely admirable…gia in jed

  9. Hello Carol,
    this is such a nice article about the Saudis. I would vote for each one of them because they are very nice people. 15 years ago I worked for the German Trade Office in Riyadh and had many contacts to Saudi business men. They were always very nice and polite. For private reasons I had to go back to Germany and ever since I want to come back to Saudi Arabia – and now after 15 years I am back again and I am very happy about that. I just love that country and its people.

    Many greetings, Margot

  10. Maha sounds like a strong and courageous woman…just the kind of individual you’d want with you in the OR!

    Riding the Wave – you made me blush!

  11. @carol,
    Yes kind and smart , she was F’s OR right hand. and when he was in the ICU she was the dragon by his bedside and who gave me constant reports when i was stuck @home.

    I still see her as i did right before we left spewing off in arabic at my horrible BIL and he had no clue who she was – under the abaya 🙂
    that’s one fearless woman. she’s all alone there and v happy , loves the place, her only son is in the diplomatic corps in saudi ..maybe you would have met him sometime 🙂

  12. She sounds like a woman I would love to know!

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