Warning: This is a very personal and long article, so if you’re not interested in my personal experience, don’t go on reading.
It’s the 8th of March!
It’s Women’s International Day!
And against all odds, I am celebrating this day in my own way; an early breakfast at Theatro Lounge with my soul mate, Majdoleen Nazer, who is the outreach and business development associate in The Islamic Development Bank Group.
A very girly talk between two mature women it was, and as usual, being with my “bestie” is very inspiring!
The intimate gathering ended after three hours with a strong conviction!
Smiling to each other, we had this deep realization that we are happy, strong, and independent women! Men or no men, we are satisfied the way we are because we know who we really are and have this deep profound belief that no one has the power or ability to define who we are !
It was a long journey indeed! Beautiful yet not very easy! (Don’t expect me to say that I have become the president or consultant of any place at the end of this article!) I am talking about the journey into my self!
Why am I celebrating today and what am I celebrating? I am celebrating being a blessed and lucky woman, surrounded by amazing women!
“A woman is another woman’s worst enemy!” That’s a rumor that some men (or actually chauvinists) like to spread in order to be in control of women! But women in 2012 don’t buy it anymore!
When I look back at my life many years ago, I find several remarkable women and only two men, my father and my husband!
Despite the male domination in this country…despite the messed up situation of women here…despite the upside down priorities in almost everything in this place….despite the superficial and non-productive people who get most of the media coverage in this country, we_ real & average women_ are surviving strongly ever after!
I am defiantly lucky to have a very compassionate father and a cooperative supportive husband!
Yet the journey of a woman (in order to be this full human being) must have other women as well, and certainly not “any” women!
Naturally, there were a lot of women in my life!
The jealous…the braggart ….the envious ….the negative…and the “will-always-put-you-down” ones!
Never heard of these types? Perhaps you are exceptionally lucky living on planet Mars!
Why am I mentioning them? They were part of my life, and they led me to resist being like them one day! I could have been something like that if I gave in to being a woman in the way that our male-dominated society instills in us from early childhood!
But I guess… again…I was lucky (still am!)
My career began with an unplanned spontaneous meeting with the dynamic, assertive, and not-easy-to-please Tania Tahlawi, who was the principal of Jeddah Private Schools in 2000.
Just by reading my CV and chatting with me for an hour, she “believed” in me! “You are rare breed!” she said! I don’t know if she still remembers those words, but I have never forgotten them and till this day, her words push me to be up to what she saw in me!
She wanted to hire me immediately, but I had to go through some tests and I had to meet the classy extraordinary, Mrs. Mariam Ghalayini, who soon became my first boss. Yet I never felt the word “boss” really suits her superb personality; a mentor and genuine leader suits her much more!
And then there was Madam Laila Sabbah, the very big tough boss and the owner of the school, whom everyone was and still is afraid of! It was difficult for her to like me at first (mutual feelings by the way), but now she believes in me, and I look up to her as a unique businesswoman who taught me a great deal, not just about work but about life as well! It took both of us a rather long time to reach this phase!
Ms. Tania, Mrs. Mariam, and Madam Laila have formed a turning point in my life. Maybe they were never aware of it, but they did that by just being themselves and by putting their trust in me when I was a young inexperienced newbie!
They believed in me and gave me a chance to be who I can be!
There was also Dr. Hayat Sindi, whom I met a few times only but was influenced tremendously by her encouraging words to me!
Years passed and things changed as they should in any normal life. I went to Dar Al-Hekma College seeking a new experience, and there I got to know an exceptional woman, Dr. Suhair Al-Qurashi!
And again I was blessed! She believed in me! She empowered me on the professional level and mostly on the personal level!
And I guess by now, people who have been following my blog, know very well what Dr. Suhair means to me.*See links below
Those women, as much as they have and will always have the greatest impact on me, are only a few!
There was my third boss, Mrs. Nada Mardini, and my fourth boss, Mrs. Fatima Bayoumi, who are two of the most professional and extraordinary women I have met in my life!
Apart from being fair, ethical, very productive, and always up-to-date, they did this simple thing that all the great women in my life have done; they believed in me!
How simple yet effective can that be! Unfortunately, many ignore the fact that women can really empower each other!
Today, like every day, I celebrate being a woman, not because I have all my rights..not because I am a first class citizen as I should be…but because I am blessed with women who believe in me…surrounded by women who have risen above the normal womanly trivialities.
And the list is long…the list of the amazing women in my life includes all my friends and my colleagues at work .The list includes all the amazing women who have had an influence on me and on others …who have touched me deeply…who have contributed to my insight and perception of life…to them I am thankful and grateful!
And here goes my list (besides the names mentioned above of course):
Ghada Al-Kousi: my calm, confident, and very hard-working Egyptian friend and colleague since 2001.
Jihan Al-Bayati: my amazing and very powerful yet humorous Iraqi colleague and friend…I can’t just ignore the fact that she’s a living encyclopedia, too!
Mariam Malki: my “recently-discovered relative”, and my cheerful, positive friend and colleague
Linda Yamak: my Lebanese friend and colleague and former editor-in-chief of Noor Al-Hekma magazine. With her, work was like paradise! We were the best team because of her serenity and soothing smile!
Dr. Ishrat Suri: a great professional and knowledgable mentor and colleague from Pakistan. A truly “rich” human being in every sense!
Karen Palmer: my very active and sportive American friend and colleague. She’s a beautiful and honest human being! Knowing her is a blessing!
Nabeelah Al-Ansari: the warm-hearted mother and colleague…always cheerful and peaceful like as any true Muslim should be.
Kim Abdullah: the dedicated, creative and very professional colleague that I am proud to know!
Sebah Al-Ali: the youngest colleague and friend in our department. She brought life and energy to all of us! She adds creativity and insight to everyone and everything she does!
Mona Nagor: our young Saudi assistant…such a lovely respectful soul and very hard-working!
Mae Zantout: my sweet Lebanese friend who used to be my officemate …unluckily she doesn’t work with us anymore, but she will always be remembered for her exquisiteness and dedication!
Reema Dohan: former coordinator of Noor Al-Hekma and one of the rare Saudi qualifications! Working with her is always challenging yet smooth! She left her job temporarily to be able to take care of her kids and her new born baby! Respectable, sweet, and professional with a smile that never leaves her face!
As I am writing, I recall all the lovely women whom I have know in my life, and my list grows longer and longer!
It includes all the wonderful women that I’ve known, and to my pleasant surprise, I’ve just realized that the amazing women whom I know are much more than the normal stereotypes of women in my life!
Perhaps I need to include all the members of Dar Al-Hekma to be fair! Yes! I am that lucky! I work with few of the best women in Jeddah, Saudis and non-Saudis!
And I must include Sahar Hejazi, the copy center officer, who greets everybody with a smile every morning despite the loads of work she has! Throughout my years at DAH, I’ve never seen her grumpy or complaining! God bless her!
Maybe very few people know the names in my list though some of them are well-known, but that’s the case with treasures. You have to dig for them to enjoy their shine!
Those are “real” women! Non-media polished women! They are hard-working employees! They are wives and mothers who really take good care of their families! They work inside-out!
I can’t also ignore the huge role that my students play in my life!
Yes! They make my life better! They make me happier and make me feel younger and more energetic! They urge me constantly (without being aware) to give more and to interact with my inner soul and to be proud of the influence I have on them! It’s truly a mutual relationship! I learn from them as much as I teach them!
Other beautiful young souls have also touched me deeply! Young Saudi poetesses, writers, and artists have always been an inspiration! Amongst them is my best friend Najla Hussein, who is a computer programmer and a very sensitive poetess (a rare mix I guess!)
And here’s a list of truly distinguished young women that I have come to know …each one of them has added to me a great deal and I am very grateful!
Dr. Maram Makkawi (one of the best Saudi writers. She writes in Al-Watan Newspaper…an honest charming person indeed!)
Reem Tayeb (a highly educated, knowledgeable & witty housewife)
Fouzz Al-Jameel (an inspiring artist)
Masheal Al-Ammari (journalist)
Ehsan Fahmi (programmer and writer)
Safiya Al-Jifri (specialized in Islamic studies …remember this name very well! She will make a huge difference one day!)
Other amazing women whom I am grateful to know are my Canadian friend and outstanding writer, Chiara Alma, my American friend and blogger,Tara , and my Singaporean fellow blogger, Deborah Choo.
I am also really grateful to my maid, Noura (actually to all the maids that worked for me!) Without them, I couldn’t have had the time to work and take care of myself and family! I believe these less fortunate women, who have left their kids, husbands and countries to seek a better financial level, deserve recognition and appreciation as much as any political or social activist!
If I have nothing to celebrate on Women’s International Day, I have a very good reason to celebrate everyday because I know a bunch of the best “real” independent women, who work more than they talk and who live inconstant struggle to achieve at home and at work!
I am thankful to each one of you and to all the many women who were not included in this post.
I am mostly grateful and proud to be the daughter of a simply one of a kind woman; my mother Dr. Hanan Abdul Jabbar! Yet I believe she should be in a separate post for her only!
Last but not least, I am really grateful to a bright dynamic young woman; my daughter Reem!
I am proud to be a woman and to know outstanding women/girls like you!
Thank you for empowering me!
Related Links:College of Love
The League of Positive Women