Saudi plans to put women engineers on top


Fayez wants to create an architecture and planning programme modelled after the one at the UCD, where he studied.



He said that this will help fill the need for more women in top design jobs in the Middle East.



He added that right now Saudi Arabia can only graduate a total of 2,000 people in those professions — most of them being men. “The demand of all fields, engineering and architecture, is huge.This is one of the reasons why it is a very important programme to have,” he explained.



Fayez wants to a build a campus setting that is more than just lectures. He wants to build an environment similar to ones on American campuses.



“Fifty per cent of my education was outside the classroom, which is extremely important. Not the classroom activity and the content, but also the competitiveness,” he said. UCD and the new architecture students at Dar Al-Hekma will be involved in a competition.



Students from Colorado will design affordable housing projects for Saudi Arabia. Students here will do the same for Colorado. The goal is to help people from both countries understand how each side lives.



Dr Mark Gelernter, dean of the college of architecture and planning at UCD, welcomed the partnership with DAH, which aims “to help them envision what design education would be in their context to meet the standards of American accreditation. Fai Aldossary, who is studying electrical engineering at UCD, said that emerging programmes such as the one at Dar Al Hekma were changing the culture in the Kingdom.



“I’m delighted that we have something like that in our country. I think we have a lot of talented women in Saudi Arabia that would love to get involved in that field,” she said. She added that programmes such as this are good for the continuing evolution of Saudi society. Aldossary said that she would be more than happy to check it out as soon as she completes her study at UCD. “Maybe, I might get some education (in the Kingdom), a degree or something,” she said.



According to Dr Sameer M. Al Lyali, an expert in interior design, architecture and planning Saudi women architects and interior designers are talented and can do an equally excellent job in the male-dominated profession.



He added that the Kingdom has highly motivated Saudi women architects and interior designers who can contribute much to the enrichment of the country’s architecture, interior design and urban planning.



According to him, the King Fahd University in Dammam (KFU) has graduated more than 300 Saudi women architects and interior designers during the last nearly 20 years, but only about five per cent of them are practising their professions because of lack of encouragement and acceptance.



“They do not have much chance of finding work after graduating, and therefore many of them engage in freelancing work by offering their services to companies and establishments with architectural and interior designing projects. They are confined to their homes. Some have branched out to allied fields, like graphic designing and the likes,” Al Lyali said.



According to Fatema Al Awami, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Southern California, and has wide experience in reservoir modeling, management and engineering, said that public ignorance adds to the fear that prevents parents from supporting their daughters’ choice of engineering, for instance, as a career.



“It is observed that most women choose medical and educational professions over science and engineering professions,” she added.



She said that Saudi women can make it in any field if they have the will and patience to pursue their career.”



“Although women scientists and engineers number much fewer than male colleagues, Saudi women who dared to enter these fields have proven that they are as capable as men,” she said.


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