Category Archives: Saudi heroes

More Saudi Heroes

A couple of weeks ago I was inspired by Dr. Al Gosaibi’s passing to honor not just him but also other Saudis who have chosen to risk condemnation and more to make an effort for the betterment of fellow Saudis.

Here are some more great Saudi heroes:

Dr. Huda Al Munsour

Dr. Al Munsour was bothered by how widespread the inherited condition Thalassemia was in Saudi Arabia so she decided to do something about it. She proposed that all Saudis considering marriage be tested for genetic diseases. Thus they can make an informed decision before. After years of campaigning and petitioning, she was able to see her idea implemented all across Saudi Arabia.

Amina Fatani

Amina Fatani at the young age of 21, started a campaign to preserve heritage sites. This is especially important as many Saudis do not see any value in these sites. I believe that many great things are to come from Ms. Fatani.

Haifa Khalid

Ms Khalid is a poet and a women’s rights activist. She is the mastermind behind a non-profit organization for divorced women. One of the main issues about divorce in Saudi is that the majority of women are unaware of their rights. Due to women not demanding these rights, sometimes both husbands and judges conveniently forget them too.  That’s where Ms. Khalid comes in. She is a regular on TV and newspapers. She educates women and also appeals to the judicial system to implement more safeguards for divorced women’s rights.

Abdulrahman Allahim

A lawyer unlike most lawyers, he represented the Qatif girl, Fatima and Monsour, the married couple who were forcefully separated, and he raised the first case in Saudi history against the PVPV on behalf of a Saudi woman. He was the 2008 recipient of both the International Human Rights Lawyer Award and the Human Rights Watch Award.

Reem Asaad

Ms.Asaad is a lecturer at a university in Jeddah. She started a campaign to allow Saudi women to work in lingerie shops as currently the majority of these shops are manned by expatriate male workers. I’ve written about her campaign in this post.


Filed under Personal favorites, Saudi heroes

Saudi Heroes

Dr. Ghazi Al Gosaibi’s passing got me thinking. There are certain people in every generation and era that make a person honored to have lived in their time. People who courageously push a nation forward even when the majority of their countrymen are standing still or worse pushing back. These people are rarely appreciated in their lifetime and their initiations only truly valued long after they are lost.

Besides Dr. Ghazi Al Gosaibi, these are today’s people who my grandchildren and great grandchildren will celebrate and honor, people who will be included in history books and classroom discussions. My future Saudi Arabia will be built on the foundation that they are laying. I can’t predict the future, but I can dream.

Wajeha Al Huwaider

An outspoken pioneer of the Saudi women’s rights movement. Unfortunately due to the standing ban on her writing in the local press, many of the women she is fighting for don’t even know her name.

Matrook Al Faleh

A political activist and writer who was threatened and jailed several times. He calls for a constitutional monarchy and more civil rights. Shortly after he was set free, he went back to writing about the terrible conditions other political activists were under in prison and was imprisoned again. He was freed seven months later. That’s what I call perseverance and courage.

Fouad Al Farhan

The first Saudi blogger to taste the bitterness of censorship. In history books, he will be remembered as the first Saudi to utilize the blogsphere for political change. Despite being warned by officials to tone down his writing about the conditions of imprisoned political activists among other topics, he persisted and was imprisoned from December 10 2007 to April 26 2008. His blog was blocked in Saudi Arabia and still is. He became active on other social media including Facebook and Twitter. Recently he has also started a new blog.

Dr. Mohammed Al Zulfa

A Saudi who put his plush and comfortable position as a Shoura Council member on the line by presenting to the government a well-prepared and detailed study calling for lifting the ban on women driving. This was in 2006 and he was severely attacked. There were even cell phonevideos showing how muttawas would crowd around him to “advise” him everywhere he went. You can read my post at the time here.

Abdulla Al Qaseemi

A thinker and writer whose books and name need to be brought back into the light. Al Qaseemi started out as a fervent defender of Saudi grown Islamic fundamentalism in the face of some Egyptian Islamic scholars he had met and studied under when he first left Saudi Arabia in 1927 to study at Al Azhar University. Twenty years later he retracted many of his former ideas and wrote several books and articles that greatly influenced thinkers and decision makers all over the Middle East except in Saudi Arabia where he was denounced and heavily censored.

A landmark book of his is (هذه هي الأغلال) These Are The Shackles

In this video Turki Al Dakheel catches a progressive sheikh, Ahmed Bin Baz, off guard as he reads aloud an unsourced quote from one of the sheikh’s articles that originally was written by Al Qaseemi. Apparently sheikh Bin Baz reads Al Qaseemi but is reluctant to put him as a source for fear of being attacked and rejected like Al Qaseemi before him.

There are of course many more Saudi heroes that I should have included, but these are the dearest to my heart for their sheerpatriotism and sacrifice.


Filed under Personal favorites, Saudi heroes

A Hero: Farman Ali Khan

Black Wednesday is what many people have been calling 25th of November when Jeddah got its heaviest rains that resulted in flooding and the death of over 120 people. Videos, photos and articles on the flooding and the damage are aplenty online, but one story I believe has not got its due attention. Farman Ali Khan was a 32 year old Pakistani migrant worker at a grocery store in Jeddah. In his six years in Saudi Arabia, he had only been able to visit his family back home twice. His youngest Jarira, 4 years old, has never seen her daddy alive. This man who had every reason to save himself, as he is his family’s sole provider and yet he set out that day to save as many people as he could.

Farman Ali Khan saved 14 people from drowning. His neighbor told reporters that Farman gave him his wallet and cell phone for safekeeping. He then tied one end of a rope to a pipe and the other around his waist and stood at the edge of the heart of the flooding looking for people to pull out. Those he couldn’t reach swimming and wading, he would reach to them with a wood pole. He kept going back until the water got the better of him and he went under.

Farman left behind his wife and three daughters, Zubaida, 7, Madeeha, 6, and Jarira, 4. And now there is a huge campaign on Facebook with over 22,000 members, the majority of whom are Saudi. They are campaigning for a Jeddah street to be named after Farman, that he be rewarded with the King Abdulazziz Medal and that his family be compensated financially.

To read more about Farman: English, Arabic.


Filed under Personal favorites, Popular, Saudi heroes

Prominent Saudis: Muhanid Abu Diya


Muhanid is a 23 year old Saudi physics prodigy. He has 22 inventions under his belt, nine of which are patented, and he’s written three books. He first started inventing when he was in sixth grade. His most known invention is a submarine that can submerge itself underwater to depths lower than any other submarine in the world. Before Muhanid’s invention the Japanese held the record. Another invention of his is a pen for the blind. He is originally from the south-western region of Jezan and grew up in Jeddah. His father is a presenter on the Saudi broadcast channels.

In April of last year Muhanid was involved in a car accident on Al Ouraba street in Riyadh. At the time, he was a newlywed, he had just gotten married five days earlier. Unfortunately he lost his sight, hearing in one ear and a leg in the accident. And witnesses say that the loss of his leg was due to the slow response of the paramedics and later bureaucratic procedures at the hospital he was taken to.

As he was recovering, his wife would sit next to his hospital bed crying and he turned to her and told her that everything was going to be alright. Psychologists that saw him after his accident remarked that they rarely come across patients who were able to deal so well with what he had gone through.

Now Muhanid has beaten the dirt off and gotten right back up. He is currently sponsored by the Saudi Telecom Company and back to pursuing his dreams. He also speaks at local schools, urging students to go after their ambitions. My nephew attended one of Muhanid’s talks and he couldn’t stop raving about him. He says meeting him was inspirational and that Muhanid gave the students his Email and told them that they could contact him if they ever needed support.


Filed under Prominent Saudis, Saudi heroes

Foiled Kidnapping


Last week a five year old girl and her mother got a lucky break when a Saudi man, Ali Al Shammari, was able to rescue the girl from an attempted kidnapping. It all happened when the widowed mother went to a charity center to get a Eid holiday give-out. She had taken her daughter along. After getting the packages, the mother stopped a taxi and helped the daughter into the back seat. She then turned around to get the bags from the sidewalk. As soon as she turned her back, the driver shut the door and sped off with the five year old still in the backseat. The mother ran after the taxi screaming “my daughter, my daughter, the taxi driver took my daughter!” This Saudi man was in his car nearby and heard her. He immediately raced after the taxi until he was able to corner it and get back the girl who was pleading with the driver to return her to her mother

Prince Salman, the governor of Riyadh awarded the man an undisclosed cash reward for his heroic deed. And the newspaper took an interesting perspective on the whole story, writing that this is just another reason to nationalize all taxis, as if kidnapping and all things bad are only done by expatriates. I’m all for nationalizing every job but not for this reason


Filed under Culture, Saudi heroes, Women driving

King Abdullah is My Hero


This photo rescued the day for me. This morning while waiting at a stop light in the back of my car, I happened to notice that the car in front of mine had a sticker on its bumper that was a ban sign going across a woman driving. It just got to me. Isn’t it enough that we are not allowed to drive but to have someone rub our noses in it with this sort of thing! What difference does it make to that ignorant fool with a sticker if the driver in the car next to him has a female or male anatomy? And to people who say it’s a matter of freedom of speech, I say grow up. Freedom of speech has limits when it infringes on the rights of others. Would it be OK if he had an anti Muslim driving sticker? Or an anti-Arab driving sticker? Gender is on the same level as religion and race when it comes to discrimination.  Anyway this photo made things better. It was taken at a big ceremony last week to mark the official opening of the Princess Nora University for Women. I don’t know who the women are but they are probably university staff. Unfortunately this was not the picture that was published in the newspapers. This was the official photo:

Nevertheless, to have the King stand in the midst of these ladies and take a photo without worrying about the muttawas is a step forward. And then to have this photo openly available online is also another step forward. So one step back (the sticker) and two steps forward still counts as progress.


Filed under Gender Apartheid, Saudi heroes, Sept 23rd, Women campaigns