Welcome to our Summer edition, featuring Sheikha Fadyah Al Saad of Kuwait!
What are the three main goals of the Al-Saad Foundation?
The Al-Saad Foundation believes in fostering connections among like-minded individuals in society to build a community dedicated to our vision and goals that evolves on advancing human development and on empowering women within the society through providing educational, scientific and creative solutions to meet the development challenges at the local and regional levels by providing consultations, studies, training and advancing scientific knowledge. We believe that when individuals and organisations act together, social change can occur. Thus, this is why we seek global partnership with institutions with experience in the field of sustainable development to help build local competencies that are able to meet national needs.
The Al Saad Foundation contributes to its goal of building advanced professional capabilities and developing the efficiency of the administrative body and human forces through the use of curricula, programmes, tools and resources, as well as working on developing educational programs that enable individuals to exercise their role and shoulder their responsibilities towards sustainable development and help them in facing challenges and finding solutions and options that are compatible with the goals of the institution and which meet the needs of sustainable development.
The Foundation also encourages enabling local and global experiences in the field of education, women in science and sustainable development and it provides advice, suggestions and appropriate solutions. The Foundation contributes to this goal through organising contests and nourishing the creative spirit of competition revolving around scientific topics. It offers scholarships for the contest’s winners from Kuwait, GCC countries and the Arab states and fosters distinguished scientific projects as well as markets them inside the State of Kuwait and abroad.
How does MEWIIN help women achieve progress in all technological and economic fields?
The Middle East Women’s Inventors & Innovators Network “MEWIIN” is a network that was launched in Kuwait by the Al Saad Foundation in partnership with the Global Women Inventors & Innovators Network (GlobalWIIN).
MEWIIN celebrates and recognises women involved in creating viable new ideas, exceptional creativity, innovation, research development and enterprise.
MEWIIN also puts a spotlight on women from a diversity of backgrounds that include brilliant exceptionally creative, inventive, innovative, entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, technologists from all sectors right across the Middle East and beyond. MEWIIN allows these women to have a platform where they can showcase their scientific inventions and innovations to a panel of international judges ultimately giving them the opportunity to win an award. This award is their ticket that allows them entry into the GlobalWIIN Award in collaboration with WinTrade’s international platform. It also allows women to exchange experiences and finds opportunities for female inventors to develop and globally market their projects.
MEWIIN has the clear aim of combining technology and knowledge transfer to achieve greater impact while helping women promote their ideas so that other young women would be inspired to follow in their footsteps and consider careers associated with being inventive and innovative.
What are the main goals for MEWIIN and the Al-Saad Foundation in the next 5 years?
In accordance with the Al Saad Foundation’s future goal to contribute to providing education for all, the Foundation started an initiative to provide online learning to the children of the unidentified nationality population in Kuwait. During the COVID19 pandemic, a portion of this particular category of children was having difficulties accessing online learning due to their financial and legal situation meaning that most families of unidentified nationality do not have the portals for online learning. This initiative provided these children with the materials, connection and accessibility to online learning, and also arranged for volunteer teachers to teach them online courses. Stemming from that, the Foundation is working towards its ambitious goal to create a virtual online school within the next five years.
The “FSSC” (Sheikha Fadyah Al Saad Al Sabah Scientific Competition), one of the Al Saad Foundation’s initiatives, which has started on a local level, then expanded to cover GCC countries in the last five years, has finally moved during this year to cover all of the Arab countries. The Foundation aims to further expand the coverage of this competition to hopefully have a more global coverage.
The Al Saad Foundation is the Middle Eastern partner of GlobalWIIN; this partnership led to the launch of MEWIIN. Although the pandemic has limited the coverage of the event, it was still a huge success, and we are hoping that in upcoming years we will be able to hold it in person in Kuwait for the Middle Eastern region.
Can you tell us a bit about what it’s like to be a Sheikha?
People observe the lives of monarchs and ruling families with great interest considering the status that comes with the title. While the title brings many advantages and privileges, there are also many responsibilities that come with it. The title advantages are not substantial to a great extent, especially since Kuwait is not a typical style monarchy and there isn’t a lot of pomp and circumstance, complex protocols or injunctions related to it, which is a good thing. The title responsibilities are especially perceived on the social and public areas. The title is a huge responsibility to carry because of my name and the legacy of my father and grandfather in Kuwait and because of how the people view my family, so I always must give added value for the family in all my actions. During my work on social development that I carry out in the areas of public and charitable service, the advancement of women is an issue that I concentrate on. I am very interested in helping with educating and guiding women to the right methods that support them to achieve their goals as an equal partner to men in society and contribute further to their empowerment.
If you had a magic wand which could solve one problem in the world, what problem would you choose and why?
Armed conflicts are the most urgent problem in the world today. Other than being a lethal problem in itself, armed conflicts also perpetuate other problems such as oppression, poverty, lack of education, inequality, hunger, disease, etc. According to the latest statistics, there are globally 58 million children out of school, 50 per cent of whom are in fragile or conflict-affected countries.
Therefore, if we seek solutions to many world problems, we must devote efforts to end armed conflicts. Armed conflicts nowadays carry a much bigger threat of being highly destructive in today’s heavily and nuclear armed world. That is why war should be eradicated once and for all.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no other way to make world peace nowadays other than wishful thinking since there has been very little success in ending man’s greed and violence in any other way despite the various organisations and societal initiatives that tried to ensure peace.
We have experienced the effect of violence in Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion in August 1990 when Iraq violated the Kuwaiti sovereignty resulting in a seven-month-long Iraqi military occupation of the country. Even now, thirty years later, we can still see the effect of this invasion and are still trying to overcome the damage that was done to our country.
I would like to emphasize here the importance of including women with decision-making power in negotiating the resolution of armed conflicts, which is fundamental to a successful peace process, as was confirmed in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. The latter resolution recognises that although women are mostly victims of conflicts, they are side-lined in negotiations and mediations for peace and their issues are often ignored during such peace processes. A peace process that fails to include women loses legitimacy and misses potentially useful ideas by excluding half of the population. Should women not be included, the outcome of negotiations is also likely to be different, with agreements more likely to focus only on military and political arrangements. Women-inclusive peace processes are more likely to produce durable agreements and a more sustainable peace.
What are 3 things you would tell someone to encourage them to visit Kuwait?
Kuwait is a mixture of Western liberalism and traditional Islamic culture. It is home to spectacular mosques, palaces with elaborate architecture, museums and modern shopping complexes. The country is also famous for its beaches, landscapes and hot sand dunes. The best season to travel is during spring when the weather is cool and pleasant.
Above all, the people of Kuwait are warm and welcoming. Kuwait used to be a trade entrepot depending on commerce and its inhabitants were mostly merchants. Originally being traders influenced in having a Kuwaiti society that is opening and warm to everyone. The country is pleasant, easy to live in and the people are friendly. In short, no matter where you are from, you will feel at home in Kuwait.