National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Board Member Paige Peterson published a travelogue in the New York Social Diary from her recent time in Saudi Arabia. Read about her visit to Jeddah, her experience as an author-in-residence at a school in the Eastern Province, and her drive through the desert in the first installment of the series. The second installment chronicled her visit to the Al Deira Souk and the Riyadh Ritz Carlton. The third installment discussed her participation in the C3 Saudi-American Healthcare Forum, created to advance “healthcare diplomacy” between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Finally, the fourth installment highlighted the achievements of four remarkable Saudi Arabian women she met during her visit.
Links to her pieces are available below.
After my week in the Eastern Province, I packed my belongings for the drive to Riyadh noticing that the sky was ominous. The wind began to howl. I was assured “everything will be fine.” Off we drove into the desert. The trucks were moving slowly and steadily through the drifting sand in the right lane, but once on the highway we pulled into the fast lane, as fierce winds shoved our groaning aged SUV from side to side.
I was amazed by this vibrant scene. Suddenly I detected a faint and exotic scent. It grew more intense. It was like a marvelous tonic. I followed my nose and all at once, we entered a stall whose perfume totally revived me.
The vendor was holding a black-handled torch that shot a flame into a lamp. Inside was frankincense. These incenses are part of life in the Middle East, used to perfume public rooms and homes. Yes, as in frankincense and myrrh. The incenses brought by the Three Wisemen to the stable. Here in this stall are sold medicinal incenses that have been traded in this part of the world for over five thousand years. This was by far the most exquisite shop in the souk. Very magical.
I very much enjoyed being seated next to Dr. Selwa Al-Hazzaa. She is the first female doctor to hold the position of Consultant of Ophthalmology at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital. Forbes International Magazine chose Dr. Al-Hazzaa as one of “The Most Powerful Arab Women.” She is also a member of the Shura Council. She regaled us with a series of entertaining and provocative stories about her life. This is such a wonderfully verbal culture.
I asked four remarkable Saudi Arabian women to share their life stories in their words. They did more — they shared their private photos with me. Meet Khawla, Rasha, Yasmin, and Mona.