A Multi-talented Saudi Girl!

Posted: January 10, 2011 in The Truth about Saudi Girls

Nadia Dandachi: A Seventeen-Year-Old Talented Saudi Girl

Before you read this, please say “Masha Allah”!

Many years ago when I was a novice teacher, I worked in a primary school. I taught grades three and six, and I have to say it was one of the most challenging and interesting things that I have done.

In one of my English classes, I met this amazingly “annoying girl!” Don’t get me wrong; annoying children are “brilliant” and usually grow up as unique adults!

With a squeaky voice, she said complaining about the “enormous” number of assignments I have given my class (which I gave only once a week), “But this is not fair! We need to have fun!” I looked at the little munch-kin who said that to only find out it was “Nadia Dandachi”, my grade three student, who would always complain about absolutely anything! That was my first encounter with Nadia, and that was when I instantly realized that the tiny sweet girl sitting in front of me is going to be “something” one day!

Today, Nadia is a fine, bright 17 year-old girl, who studies in Jeddah Private Schools for Girls, and she is in Grade 12.

Nadia speaks and writes English and French fluently, plays the piano, has an exceptional talent in photography, and has a great cause to work and live for!  She is also the Co-Senior Copy Editor of her school’s magazine, JPS Connect.

I received Nadia’s answers via email and left them unedited because they are too good to alter!

Go on reading, enjoy Nadia’s pictures, and keep saying “Masha Allah!”

Hobbies and Activities

  1. 1. Who is your role model or the most influential person who had an effect on your life and way of thinking?

Well, to be honest, I don’t really have a specific role model or influential idol. Throughout my life, I have learned from many different people, including my own parents. This was useful for me, because each taught me something completely different, depending on their experiences. Moreover, I am a very independent girl, especially in my way of thinking. I have my own opinions and my personal beliefs. Also, in the past few years, I have learned much throughout my own experiences, and it has all affected my life.

  1. 2. You are a multi-talented girl. Who is behind developing your talents and encouraging you?

As a young child, I was constantly curious and eager to discover more about the little world that surrounded me. I had many interests ever since my young age, and my parents did their best to encourage me. They noticed my talents and decided to develop them. I will thank my parents forever for that, because without them I never would have been able to do what I am able to do now.

  1. 3. When did you start learning French?

I speak French since as far as I can remember. French language is my favourite, and I have been speaking it ever since my young age with my family. Technically you’d say it is almost my mother language. Also, all the cartoons and Disney movies of my childhood are in French!

  1. 4. Who encouraged you to learn playing the piano? Was it your desire or your parents’?

My parents bought me a small piano keyboard when I was around 4 years old. I loved playing on it all the time, and started making up some melodies on it. My parents saw how much I loved this instrument, and decided to buy me a real piano and to start giving me professional lessons with a private tutor. I have been playing the piano ever since, for around 10 years now, and I totally adore this instrument with its pure black and white harmonious keys.

  1. 5. Tell us about your daily routine; a typical school day.

I don’t really follow a certain routine. Every day is a new one, different in its schedule and mood. However I mainly spend it studying, and then doing whatever interests me, like: reading, watching series, playing piano, surfing the internet, SOUP-ing, developing my photography pictures, listening to music, and most importantly staying with my family.

Save Our Planet

  1. 6. SOUP is one of the very few Saudi websites that is concerned with the environment. Please, explain the idea of SOUP and who is behind it.
  2. SOUP, or Save Our Unique Planet, is an organization that I have founded myself when I was in 9th grade. I have worked on developing it ever since. The main goal of SOUP is to spread global awareness about the environment, its ecological issues, and to teach people how to make simple but great positive changes to help our beloved planet Earth. The idea came to me when I saw that, locally, there was no environmental awareness in schools, so I decided that I wanted to change that. I worked on its official website, which I worked on  100% alone, in order for people to be able to join SOUP as members, and help achieve its goals. It all consumes a great deal of work and time from me and the website is still under construction. You may visit: http://www.soupearth.org/ , and Join Soup!


  1. 7. You have great passion for photography. How did this passion develop and who encouraged you?

My father is a dentist, and one day I discovered that he owned a really old and huge macro camera which, a long time ago, he used for taking dental pictures of his patients. My father gave it to me, and I got very excited. It was the head start of growing my interest in photography. When he saw the picture that I first shot with it, he noticed my talent and love for photography. That is when he decided to offer me a professional camera to encourage me.

  1. 8. What camera do you use and what techniques?

My current camera is a Nikon D3000 but I am intending on upgrading it to a better one, also a Nikon. I also wish to buy a fish eye and macro lens hopefully soon! I use various techniques and always experiment and try new things with my camera. I try to learn and use all of its options in order to make the best out of it, and I feel very satisfied when I get good results! One of my favourite techniques is playing with light in the darkness, and it is quite known among photographers.

Family & Dreams

  1. 9. How would you describe your relationship with your mother and father?

Well, I’d say that I am a typical teenage girl that has her ups and downs. However I love my parents a lot! I’m glad that I make them proud, and I hope that I always will.

  1. 10. What are your dreams for the future? What do you want to major in when you go to college/university?

I’m extremely interested in medical studies, and I am willing to major in Dental Medicine. I will stay in Jeddah for college, and will continue my specialties abroad later on, when I’m older.

Saudi Girls

  1. 11. How can you describe Saudi girls to someone who only takes their information about Saudi girls from the media?

To say it simply, like any other society in the world, there are various kinds of people in a community. Unfortunately, most information on the media portrays Saudi girls as dependant, close-minded, and suppressed women, who have no rights or will of their own. Well it is all wrong. There is so much about Saudi girls that people don’t know. Many are extremely talented, smart, and open-minded. They enjoy life to its max, and face life with a smile. There are women fashion designers, poets, doctors, engineers, and lawyers, which have gained their places in the Saudi society. Women are gradually gaining more rights and freedom with time in Saudi, and I know that, someday, they will prove themselves to the world!

  1. 12. As a Saudi girl, do you feel oppressed or deprived in any way?

Not at all; I enjoy living in Jeddah as a Saudi girl. It feels safe and happy, and I never have to worry about great issues. I could wish for more rights; however life is easier here, and the deprivations that women suffer from are mostly minor to me. For example, it isn’t a great deal for me if women cannot drive. On the contrary, in Europe or America, it is a luxurious lifestyle to have a driver, while Saudis are lucky enough to be able to afford it as a normal lifestyle. I am always positive about change, and in only the past few years, women have gained a lot!

  1. 13. Is there anything you would like to say to readers from all over the world?

Exploit your talents. Follow your dreams. Look into yourself and decide what you want to change in life, how you would like to affect your world. I think it is excellent for young people like me to spend their extra energy in useful things such as art, instead of doing other bad things that may lead them to a darker path in life. Finally, and most important of all, always feel confident with what you do!

And now…enjoy Nadia’s pictures! 🙂

For more pics, you can visit her site:



Typical London

Autumn Falling

Eiffel and her Chevalier

Frog en Azul


Solar Flare

Venice Beauty

No to Racism

  1. naeema says:

    wow! inspiring! maybe I can use her photos in my London Ontario based magazine??

    • Maha Noor Elahi says:

      Thank you Naeema for your comment 🙂
      It would be great to have Nadia’s photos in your magazine..and I’d surly love to hear more about it…Is this a new project of yours? 🙂
      Miss you

  2. Nadia D. says:

    !! Mrs. Maha i am seriously so grateful to you,, thank you very much! I’m honored to be featuring here, and it is greatly encouraging for me 😀 I’m loving what you wrote, but i’d dare say i don’t remember being so annoying! Haha, im sincerely sorry for that 😛 Thank you again! ❤
    As for you Naeema, thanks to you too! you may use my photos if you wish, as long as u credit them to me! I'd also like to check out your magazine 😀

    • Maha Noor Elahi says:

      Well Nadia you were annoying in a cute way…but don’t worry..I was the only teacher who thought so 🙂
      Thank you for allowing me to have this wonderful interview…Thanks to your mom and dad too…God bless you

  3. Dentographer says:

    as a dentist,and an amateur photographer,who is also a father of a 13 month old daughter,this post struck me with quite an excitement! lol

    mashallah,Nadia is indeed an inspiring teenager,i spend an endless time thinking how to raise my little daughter to become an independent person with a never ending thirst to learn and explore,reading this post gave me a daytime dream that my plan has manifested 😀

    Best of luck to Nadia,i wish u the best and i hope your name resounds soon in the dental field,we would be honored to have you among us,though its gonna be a long journey for you,but with this mentality i am definite you will find it rather a rejoice.

    due to my busy schedule these days i am not following deviant art much,but i promise you that i will try to drop my input on your photography every now and then, you can find my work here http://www.sonic-boom.deviantart.com

    its a pleasureful read,thank you Nadia and Maha.

    Fayiz Melibary

    • Nadia D. says:

      Dear Dr. Fayiz,

      It is quite interesting that you’re a dentist but are also so talented in photography! I have checked your gallery, and i’m truly impressed by your work. All ready, you got me inspired by your photo named “One”. It’s such a great idea, and I simply love it 😀 I would like to try that sometime.
      I hope to develop my photography skills, and it would be great if you could give me a couple of hints! (: Thank you for sharing your Deviant Profile, and i would really appreciate your input. I always like to receive critics on my photography in order to learn to improve.. it helps greatly,
      Thank you very much for your wish and your words; I hope that your little Malak leads a great pleasurable and successful life (god bless her).
      Best of luck to you too, in following your ambition of raising your daughter to a young lady that you would always be proud of.

      Keep up your good work,
      best regards,

      Nadia D.

  4. Erin says:

    This is such an amazing interview!

    I am really interested in knowing more about Saudi girls, and this has given me a new perspective about them!

    Thank you so much, Maha for sharing with us such beauty!
    Thank you Nadia for your great talent. You will have a wonderful future for sure!

  5. Sandra says:

    Wow! I loved this interview!
    We NEED such topics! We really do!

    By the way, Maha, I’ve been following your blog for a while now..and I have to say it is very unique and different from other Saudi blogs….

    Keep it up!

  6. Sayeda says:

    @ Nadia : as you can speak French… Je trouve ça vraiment formidable ce que tu fais. Je veux dire impressionnant. Ton association “SOUP” m’a beaucoup fait rire puisque c’est le nom du potage et en français et en anglais mais c’est vraiment une bonne idée puisque globalement au Moyen-Orient, on ne fait rien pour l’environnement. C’est vraiment “tiens qu’on consomme puis après nous le déluge.”
    As-tu pensé à essayer de faire des évènements sur Facebook ou dans ton lycée ? (Je ne sais pas comment fonctionne les lycées en Arabie Saoudite mais y a-t-il un conseil de lycéens et là tu peux présenter ton association?). Désolée, si tu as déjà fait cela mais je t’avouerais qu’il est tard et que je suis une grosse flemmarde qui tombe de fatigue mais je regarderais de plus près ton site demain ! En tout cas, bravo.

    Well, anyhow, I think it’s really interesting to have some Q/A from Saudi girls by a Saudi woman. It shows a new perspective which has not been given by any other site so far… I’m looking forward to read a new Q/A and learn a piece of some one else.

  7. fahmida says:

    MashAllah!, But you did not ask her about Islam, the Quran, faith, Muslim problems around the world etc. I’m eager ro know from her.

  8. anon says:

    Nadia, your Soup site is great but it needs more focus specifically to Saudi. For example you could list the environmental problems here in this country and post your own articles and articles from other local Saudis too. The litter problem and no recycling problem here in Saudi should definitely be addressed. Your site has a lot of potential and I know you’re very busy but please try to give your site a more Saudi focus so it is more beneficial to this population and not just the general “world population”. Other websites already cover the world at large, you can cover Saudi and feel proud knowing that you are informing your own people about a great cause, taking care of our beautiful planet, one country at a time…starting with our own! Best wishes and good prayers to you. (*I posted this here b/c there is no comment section on SOUP, so I hope somehow Nadia will get this message. Thank you.)

  9. flyingunibrow says:

    I think when people say Saudi women are oppressed and dependent, they are trying to drive home the point that your guardian is fully capable of suppressing your potential.

    I have friends in Saudi who say they cannot make anything of themselves, and at their age, even if they had a talent, it’s probably lost forever in some dusty corner of their brain.

    No one argues the fact that Saudi women are talented, intelligent, hardworking, efficient, and ambitious. Scientifically speaking, race has little to do with intelligence, so you’ll find intelligent people in every country provided their is a platform that helps foster it.

    The issue is: do Saudi women from ALL sections of the society have equal opportunities as the lucky one’s like you mentioned in this post? Do you have equal wages as men? Can you compete with men in the same workplace? Can you compete with men in the education sector? You’ve taken almost a century just to decide if women are allowed to sell lingerie in shops instead of men. That’s more than enough proof.

    Segregation in the workplace costs money, which is why many companies don’t want women to work for them because they don’t want the extra maintenance and rent hassles. It isn’t economically feasible for everyone, and it’s not possible to have two managers for separately managing men and women. It’s a big waste of money that can be spent diversifying your company instead.

    The reason why you have a large foreign work force is because women are removed from the equation for the most part. In a country like India, it isn’t considered beneath our ‘nobility’ or ‘morality’ to work as cashiers, cleaners, maids and clerks being women. In nearly every country, women form the workforce in all sectors from business to labour. But, in a country like Saudi Arabia, public service is considered a demeaning job for women because you tend to raise the status of women to goddesses that need to be kept shining and pristine like Roman sculptures. Even your men, to a great degree, find such jobs beneath them. Ever heard of Saudi garbage men and toilet cleaners?

    You will always give excuses to elevate your status as women by saying you’re ‘magnificently lucky’ to have drivers and South Asian maids to clean your toilets, than drive yourself to work or clean your own mess. You’re trying to rationalise something which shouldn’t be rationalised. It’s a hard grain to swallow, but that’s how many people see it, and that’s the reality you need to come to terms with by being less close-minded and restricted in your perspective of the world.

    It’s also extremely hypocritical of a government to be against mingling of sexes yet allow women to use drivers, as far as those drivers are poor men from South Asian countries who are racially discriminated against. And what’s the excuse? Oh! They get to feed their family. But as far as Saudi men feel ‘moral’ by giving the dirty job to someone else, it’s okay!

    The racism is Saudi Arabia is largely responsibly for the non-national labour workforce that you have. The issue of human rights doesn’t end with just women- it is interlinked with issues of racism, unemployment and employee abuse. Nearly 67% of your population falls between the 20-60 age group, and 29% is younger than 14 years of age- that leaves a large pool of men and women unemployed after education, or still in their education, so managerial and executive jobs cannot just be handed to them- they’re inexperienced or still studying. You don’t equally employ women like in other countries so you need to keep flushing the workforce with expatriates, then you sit and whine about it. The unemployment rate in 2009 was 10.9% for JUST the men. And some other estimates put it as high as 25%. So, think again before you hyperbolise the current Saudi economic scenario and belittle the inequalities women suffer that are sanctioned by the LAW- because by saying ‘Saudi women can be anything they want’ and are ‘safe and happy’ you’re making a statement that can be easily negated by reading your local newspapers. Just voicing your opinion can make you go to jail, so get some new perspective. Being apologetic and unrealistically optimistic isn’t going to help anyone advance in this new era.

  10. She would become a great responsible citizen, all of us can see it already!

    and I loved the last picture!

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