Saudi Heroes

These are all great people. Anytime in the history of a country when social, legal, and political change is brewing, the brightest stars rise to the top. There are some great heroes & heroines in Saudi Arabia and it is a pity that so many of them have been put in prison. They should be honored and brought into the government circle to bring peaceful change to Saudi Arabia. Two of the most brilliant men I’ve ever known were both Saudis — that should tell us something!

Saudiwoman's Weblog

Saudi Heroes was inspired by the original Saudi hero, Dr. Gazi Al Qosaibi. These lists highlight Saudis who take stances or work hard in the unselfish pursuit of the betterment of the Saudi people. In this sentence, you’ll find links to the first Saudi heroes post, the second, and the third.

Dr. Tawfig Al Rabiah


Dr. Al Rabiah, Minister of Commerce and Industry, is famously known as “the minister of the people.” He earned this title by mainly abolishing the usual ceremony that surrounds Saudi ministerial positions. He rarely wears the black and gold cloak that sheikhs traditionally wear as a status symbol. He enters the ministry through the front door instead of using a secret back entrance. He even makes a point of taking the stairs so that both ministry employees and the general public can have access to him longer as he enters…

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Prominent Saudis: Dr. Ghazi Al Qosaibi

I was fortunate to meet this fine man (my husband and I were invited to his home when he was Minister of Health) and there was a crisis at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre. Dr. Ghazi was in a feud with my former boss, Dr. Nizar Feteih and he wanted to ask me some questions about Dr. Feteih. (I had been interviewed by the committee investigating Dr. Feteih.) Although Dr. Feteih could be very much a dictator at the hospital, he loved the hospital and did everything he could to make it the best hospital in the kingdom. Also, I had worked as Dr. Feteih’s right hand in the Medical Affairs Department for a couple of years and felt loyal as he had never been anything but extremely nice to me and my husband, Peter Sasson. I never saw Dr. Feteih do anything illegal or bad against the hospital, although he was a man accustomed to getting his way and at times was too harsh with some of the employees. Despite the fact I was unable/unwilling to turn against Dr. Feteih, Dr. Ghazi was very gracious. I briefly met his German wife, and two sons and a beautiful daughter. I found it interesting that the sons looked German as their mother and the daughter was a dark-haired/dark eyed beauty who looked completely Saudi. I did warn Dr. Ghazi that Dr. Feteih had been exceptionally close to King Khalid during the years I was working at the hospital (King Khalid died in 1982, as we all know) and that Dr. Feteih was also close to King Fahd. Dr. Ghazi brushed aside my concern that he (Dr. Ghazi) would end up losing any feud with Dr. Feteih. In fact. Dr. Ghazi was fired as Health Minister very soon after Peter and I met with him in his home, although a poem Dr. Ghazi had written that indicated the poem was for the eyes of King Fahd, played a role in his firing. Dr. Feteih was later released from his duties at the hospital, so the entire episode was very dramatic and both men paid a huge price for their feud. So much was happening during that time but I’ll save further details for my memoir. However, I will say that I found Dr. Ghazi to be a very intelligent and kindly man, and was very sad to hear of his passing so young a few years ago. I’m going to go now and find the poetry book he presented to me on that night and reread it. He was a very talented poet…(as all Saudi Arabians know.)

Saudiwoman's Weblog


The most prominent of prominent not royal Saudis is Ghazi Al Qosaibi. This is a name that every Saudi knows, young and old. He initially became popular for the reforms he implemented as minister of health, that and his Arabic novels compounded to make him one of the shiniest stars in the Saudi sky.
The first phases of his education were in neighboring Arab countries, Bahrain and Egypt. He then went on to a masters in the US and a PhD from the University of London. He then came back to Riyadh in 1971 to work as an academic at King Saud University. However, that did not last that long because he later sat at many important desks in Saudi; Director General of Saudi Railways Organization, Minister of Industry and Electricity, Minister of Health, Saudi ambassador in Bahrain then UK, Minister of Water, and now Minister of Labour.

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CELEBRATE for two deserving people have won the NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

NICE TO REPORT GOOD NEWS:  Those on the front lines fighting for girls and women tend to agree that nothing is more important than education.  Education changes boys as well as girls.  Without education, few things will change for the youth of the world.

And so it was with great joy that I celebrated when learning that two very deserving people had won the Nobel Peace Prize.  Too many times it appears that politics enter the equation, but this year two people who are changing the world shared the prize.

Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who spoke out for education for girls, and who was gunned down by the Taliban for her words, is respected by all who acknowledge the importance of education to create change in the lives of girls and women all over the world.  Young Malala is one of the strongest and most determined young woman the world has seen.  And then there is Kailash Satyarthi, the Indian child rights campaigner, another deserving recipient of the prize, who has been recognized.  This is a man who has saved thousands of young lives.  He is widely respected for his accomplishments.

Both are to be admired and supported.

After traveling the world, and living in Saudi Arabia for 12 years, I agree that nothing is more important in empowering girls and women than education.  While reading about Malala, and the difference education has made in her life, I am reminded of the many conversations I have had with Princess Sultana Al-Saud, a Saudi princess who has fought for girls and women since she was a young girl.  She has always told me that education is the key to changing lives, cultures, countries, and the entire world.  She is so right.

The world has come to know Princess Sultana through the pages of books I have written about her struggles and her victories.  You can read about Princess Sultana and her quest for freedom for girls and women in the four books written about her life.  Additionally, Malala Yousafzai, has written a bestselling book about her life, and I recommend it highly to all who care about peace, gender equality, and all that is good about life.

READ THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE FROM THE BBC, as well as other links following to other news agencies about this grand event:

Pakistani child education activist Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian child rights campaigner, have jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize.

At the age of just 17, Malala is the youngest ever recipient of the prize.

The teenager was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in October 2012 for campaigning for girls’ education. She now lives in Birmingham in the UK.

Malala said she was “honoured” to receive the award, saying it made her feel “more powerful and courageous”.

She revealed she found out the news after being called out of her chemistry class at her school in Birmingham.

“I’m really happy to be sharing this award with a person from India,” she said at a news conference, before joking that she couldn’t pronounce Mr Satyarthi’s surname.

The Nobel committee praised the pair’s “struggle against the suppression of children and young people”.

Mr Satyarthi has maintained the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and headed various forms of peaceful protests, “focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain,” the committee said at the Nobel Institute in Oslo.

The 60-year-old founded Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or the Save the Childhood Movement, which campaigns for child rights and an end to human trafficking.

Reacting to the news, Mr Satyarthi told the BBC: “It’s a great honour for all the Indians, it’s an honour for all those children who have been still living in slavery despite of all the advancement in technology, market and economy.

“And I dedicate this award to all those children in the world.”




BOOKS ABOUT PRINCESS SULTANA Al-SAUD of Saudi Arabia, a Saudi activist for girls and women and education for all

BOOKS ABOUT PRINCESS SULTANA Al-SAUD of Saudi Arabia, a Saudi activist for girls and women and education for all

USA EDITION of my latest book about Saudi women

USA EDITION of my latest book about Saudi women

UK edition of the latest about Saudi women through the voice of Princess Sultana

UK edition of the latest about Saudi women through the voice of Princess Sultana

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Do you think Saudi females should always have a guardian?

This is an interesting blog that I am reblogging from Saudi woman’s Blog.  It’s a blog that will make you think and create a lot of conversation.  This is a topic that Princess Sultana and I bring into clarity in the latest in the series of books about her life:  Princess, More tears to Cry:  Here’s the book images (UK and USA publishers)


UK edition of the latest about Saudi women through the voice of Princess Sultana

UK edition of the latest about Saudi women through the voice of Princess Sultana

USA EDITION of my latest book about Saudi women

USA EDITION of my latest book about Saudi women

I’d love to hear from readers about this topic:  (NOTE:  This is not my blog, this blog is from the Saudiwoman’s blog, so I am giving her full credit.)

“My Guardian Knows What’s Best for Me”

In August a campaign was launched titled “My Guardian Knows What’s Best for Me”. The aim of the campaign is to stand against women who are demanding to be treated as adults. Yes you read it right, a campaign that demands that the status qou remains as is. The campaign is headed by two  princesses and has two rivaling websites. And since it has gotten a lot of attention and some rumors that the two princesses were fighting over whose idea it was, the “Who are we” page has been taken down on one of them. The goal of the campaign is to gather one million signatures from Saudi women who support it. On the bottom of the main page of the weaker website is a button that says click to vote and when you click it, it automatically counts as a vote of support! The other website’s button actually asks for specifics like name and city. The stronger website is here and the weaker one here.

Below I’ve translated Dr. Elham Manea’s piece on the how and why of this campaign:

I swear I almost smiled, but how could I smile?
Then I said to myself, that people are people, in their wisdom or weakness, here or there, no difference.
So I contemplated rather than smile.

Some Saudi women have decided to express themselves.
They wanted to take a stand against human rights activists calling for Saudi Arabia to give women some (not all) of the rights that are enjoyed by their Arab counterparts in neighboring countries. So they came out with a new campaign titled “My Guardian Knows What’s Best for Me”.
Do we blame them? All they wanted was to fix a problem they know nothing of, and thus made it worse.  It would be strange to expect anything else from them. You cannot miss what you’ve never had.

Most of them belong to the Saudi aristocrats. Their leader is a princess. Their hands are velvet. They live in palaces and villas. How could we blame them for not knowing the reality of average Saudi women?

These campaigner are only worried about Saudi women. They are protecting women from themselves.They are protecting us from activists, activists who have lived the reality of being a Saudi woman in the East, West, North and South of Saudi Arabia. They know how we suffer, and how we are subjected to humiliation on a daily basis. Luckily, these activists are not princesses.

These activists believe we should be treated as adults and humans and not as children and minors, and not as digraces to be covered. Activists who are tired of this reality of suffering and daily humiliation and so they call for the guardian system to be absolved.

These campaigners who stand againsts activists see nothing strange in the fact that we are the only Muslim country that bans women driving. Isn’t it funny that Saudi Arabia is unique in this odd religious aspect? But it has always been so. They don’t wonder as to how a woman’s freedom in our country has been choked and strangled a thousand times over,so that the poor soul cannot make a move without a male’s permission, a male who’s only distinction is his genitals. To the degree that we see nothing weird about a twenty year old being reprimanded by her ten year old brother.

My guardian knows what’s best for me, seriously?!

They do not see anything strange in that the women of their country cannot make the smallest move without their guardian’s permission. They have no right to leave their houses, to study, to go to a clinic…without their guardian’s permission. And the guardian is a woman’s father, brother or any related male until she marries. And then her guardian becomes her husband until either one of them dies. Her guardian may marry her off at ten, hit her, abuse her or may be kind to her, it’s all up to luck. Her life like a watermelon, it might open up to be red and sweet or bitter and rotten.

These campaigners live like princesses and the restrictions that stifle average women daily, do not apply to them. Have they ever faced a PVPV  commission member who stole their very breath. If a PVPV commission member even set his eyes on them, he would shake from fear, because the only power that the PVPV recognize is the power of your guardian. These men know nothing of religion.

My guardian knows what’s best for me, seriously?!

They never wonder and they never question. Instead in a naiveness that is to be envied, naiveness reminiscent of Marie Antoinette, they are bothered by the demands of the women who have suffered. And so they send to the king, asking him that this system of injustice be maintained.

They say “Who said we need to be human?”
“We do not want rights that contradict our customs!”

“Stop their demands!”

“Cut their tongues!”

“Silence their voices!”

“Leave us as we are!”

“An object in a degree closer to the animal! (With all due respect to animals)”

And surprisingly, I am not surprised. Not surprised by the campaign.
And you know why?
Because the history of  movements demanding women’s rights throughout the world, was full of similar campaigns to this “My guardian knows what’s best for me”. For every woman who demanded her rights, stood more women who cursed her, in the name of tradition, in the name of customs, in the name of religion (whatever that religion may be), and shamed her for seeking change.
This campaign is not strange.
It is similar to another campaign carried out by women in Switzerland in the twenties and then again in the fifties and sixties against women’s right to vote. They too used religion, customs and traditions as an excuse to stop development.

Even in this, they are not unique.
People, as I said before are people,in their wisdom, and strength and in their weakness and simplicity.
Here or there. No difference.

But my guardian does not know what’s best for me.
I am worthy of making my own decisions.
And only I know what’s best for me, even as I bow my head in respect to my father.

Those campaigners insist on staying minors.
That is their decision. But who said that they speak on behalf of Saudi women?


FROM JEAN SASSON:  I couldn’t have said it better!


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Exclusive interview with International Bestselling author Jean Sasson HEADSHOT 3 for BOOK COVER 2014

From writing Princess More Tears to Cry I can tell you that Saudi women are changing their world and that Princess Sultana is bringing their victories public.  Women are driving openly and taking their chances with the mean-spirited clerics, who like nothing better than to harass women.  But the big surprise is that the women of Saudi Arabia have a friend who is sitting on a throne, and the person on the throne is the very forceful king of Saudi Arabia.  Thus far, he has freed all the women who were imprisoned for driving and sentenced to floggings by the religious courts.  This is big news in their world and it is making women bolder than ever.  But all is not perfect because there are many powerful men in Saudi Arabia and some of these men do everything in their power to keep women in purdah.  So, even as we celebrate the happy stories, there are sad tales that will bring tears into the eyes of all but the most hardened.

This is the long awaited follow up to Life of Saudi Princess Sultana, so what you can tell us about this book?  

I can tell you that Princess Sultana used to be the lone voice of women pushing for freedom, but now we learn that other women are gathering their courage and pushing back.  There are many new heroines to celebrate in Saudi Arabia, and you will learn about 10 of those women in this book.  Additionally, the many millions of readers who have fallen in love with Princess Sultana and her family will enjoy the heart-warming stories that centre around her three children, her three grandchildren, as well as other members of her family.  So there is something for everyone in this, the 4th book in the series about Princess Sultana.

Please tell us about the process of gathering all the personal stories for this book.  

This research and interviewing process was so very different from the past three books about the princess.  Close your eyes and try to imagine a palace filled with women and children who all want to tell a writer something interesting that is happening in their country, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, yet, one of the most backward when it comes to the treatment of girls and women.   It was in such a setting where I was told about the stories Princess Sultana wanted included in Princess, More Tears to Cry.  Some of the stories came from the princess’ daughters, while others came from the princess.  Honestly, it was a very noisy environment for a writer.  I needed a quiet time to process facts, but that was not to be.  Finally I found the secret to shutting out all the noise to hear only the person sitting in front of me.  I focused my eyes on that person’s face and soon I could only hear that one important voice.  But I will admit that I missed the old days when everything was so secretive and the princess and I were slipping around like spies from the cold war to get the information clear for me so that I could return to my home office, and carefully write books from the facts I had been given.  While it is more fun now that the secret is out in her own family, it is quite the challenge for this writer!

This is your twelfth book so how much easier is your writing process with each new book you publish? 

Each book I have written carries its own struggle.  Therefore book number twelve was no easier or no more difficult than the previous eleven.

Please can you tell us about when you first met Princess Sultana.  

I met the princess for the first time in 1985 at the Italian Embassy in Saudi Arabia.  She was the only female royal I had ever seen at a western function so that fact alone caught my attention.

Everything of life was exciting then, because I was living in one of the most exotic kingdoms in the world.  I had met other royal princesses when attending royal weddings, but nearly all the Saudi women I had come to know appeared quite shallow, with their interests centering only on designer gowns, expensive jewels and the latest royal gossip.  To meet Sultana was quite the surprise, for she had important things on her mind.  Almost instantly she began talking about the undesirable social issues affecting her country that had been plaguing my own mind for the past seven years since I first arrived in the kingdom.  She talked.  I listened.  Our eyes locked and something told me she would be an important person in my future.  She told me later that she felt the same.  She invited me to visit her in her palace.  Our friendship grew slowly, but within a year I was going with her on holidays to France where we truly bonded, mainly because we are both so passionate about the horrible ills affecting so many women of the world.

Why was it important to you to share personal stories of middle Eastern women for your career?

They became my subjects; I became their hope.  I was living in the Middle East during a very important time for women in the region.  And, don’t forget, in the early days most Saudis were open minded about westerners and wanted to get to know us.  Therefore, I had access to many women, while most journalists had none.  After all, in those days, most journalists were men, and no man would ever allowed in the circle of women.  I believed, and still believe, that it is important for the world to know about the stories of women from the Middle East.  In fact, I would have told these stories even if there was no indication they would be bestsellers.

What have been the most surprising things you have found when writing your books? 

The commonality of the rich and the poor — all women, east and west, press against an invisible force trying to deny them freedom and subject them to the rules of men.



What is next for you? 

I have five books on the drawing board.  And so I will continue to write books that awaken others, so that I can pass the passion to create change to a new generation.  To my mind, nothing is more important, because unless I am a walking miracle, I won’t live forever, and this is a struggle that is far from won.




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CAPTURING THE QUIET MOMENTS… examples of good writing

This is a very nice blog. I recommend it.


figures of speechI’ve come across three figures of speech that I like very much and thought I would share because of their gentle, soft quality. It’s easy to be dramatic. It’s much harder to capture the smaller moments
The first is from the poet Ezra Pound (who I admit isn’t a personal favourite, but I do like this).

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass

The idea of something NOT happening is arresting, isn’t it? What else might not happen…a hand no longer raised in anger but the fear remains, the light of recognition gone from an elderly relative’s eyes, a key no longer turning in the front door at 7 O’Clock…any of these could be the start of/or part of a poem or a story or a passage of writing that might…

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1)  Mommy loves our food!

She tastes everything before she feeds it to us.  She makes funny  faces, but she samples it all, canned dog food, canned cat food, bird seed, and the human food she shares with us.  She must love our food better than her own!

Talking about good food!  I am Paris:  I was a stray before I found mommy.  But here I am browsing through my 14 dishes filled with the most tasty kitty and human food.  Mommy even buys me shrimps and delicious chicken dishes!  When she notices that I love something particular, she makes note and keeps me well supplied.  I’m told by other kitties that I won the cat lottery when I found Mommy.

I  Jean's photos 025

2)  Mommy is a fun playmate. 

She spends two or three hours of each day playing, or talking a walk.  She loves us very much and can’t bear it if we are unhappy.

My name is Champagne.  I was miserably stuffed in a small cage in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and would have soon died if not for a very kind man who knew mommy paid a lot of money to buy my freedom.  Mommy made sure from that time on I was never in a cage again.  In this picture we have just put up the Christmas decorations.  I’ve been playing with a favorite red ribbon that is now hidden underneath my body.  I’m pretending as though I don’t have a care in the world because I want to keep this ribbon as my own.  But I don’t think Mommy would mind.


My name is Yager and Mommy tells me all the time that I am the most majestic German Shepherd in the whole wide world.  Mommy scratches my tummy every day, and I’ve noticed if I get in the hammock that she quickly comes and gives me a good tummy rub.  Ah!  Life is sweet!


3)  Mommy always takes us on holiday.

She says she must because if we are left behind,  she worries that we would be sad and frightened.  She would never put us in a boarding place.  Sometimes she has left us with friends who stay at our home and take good care of us, but those friends love us too.

Our names are Booger (Black Scotty) and Newcombe (White West Highland Terrier).  We went on vacation to the beach with Mommy.  She sits with us on the white sand until we are ready to return to the hotel to take a nap.  She even buys us cool sunglasses.


And here we are, Smokey and Bandit, brother and sister, packing to go on holiday with Mommy.


4)  We are allowed to wear costumes for special occasions.

BUT, if we say no thanks, then Mommy tosses those costumes away!  So you see, Mommy allows us to make decisions.

Here I am again, Champagne, wearing my special Santa hat.  My second mommy is holding me in her arms.  This is Mommy Lydia, who loved me just as much as my own mommy and always took really good care of me.


5)  Mommy saves a lot of strays.

We are constantly being introduced to new pups or kittens or birds.  But that’s all right.  The more the merrier!

Here are three kittens who lived with us until they had their own homes and their own mommies. They are really cute and sweet!



6)  Mommy buys us our own transportation.

Here we are in Sarasota, Florida riding around in our buggies.  Mommy thought that the sidewalk was too hot for our little paws.  And, guess what?  She was right!  We are riding in style!


I’m Chloe, and I’m in my own little shoe bed.  Mommy bought it for me.


7)  We have a great life.  We play and eat and are so loved that when we sleep, we REALLY sleep.  No insomnia in our lives!  Check us out in what they call DEEP SLEEP MODE!  It’s been fun to tell you about our Mommy.  We all hope that every animal in the world could be loved just as we are loved.  We don’t have to worry about a thing!

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