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Women in Energy — Saudi Arabia Smart Grid Conference 2016

Dr. Malak Al-Nory, Visiting Scholar, Center for Clean Water and Clean Energy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dr. Malak Al-Nory (fourth from the left) stands with other women participants at the Saudi Arabia Smart Grid Conference.
Saudi Arabia recently announced its strategic vision, which significantly focuses on energy and specifically indicating renewable energy targets. Saudi Arabia is the largest producer and exporter of oil in the world, with oil and petrochemical exports comprising 90 percent of total exports for the country and garnering more than 75 percent of the country’s revenues. While this work dominates Saudi Arabia’s energy sector, women are largely missing from this work. Clean energy is expected to be the door for increased participation of Saudi women in the energy sector.

As a new International Ambassador to the Clean Energy Ministerial's (CEM's) Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) initiative, I organized and moderated a panel on women in energy at the 6th Saudi Arabia Smart Grid and Sustainable Energy Conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on December 7, 2016. The panel brought together a number of women pioneers in the energy field in Saudi Arabia, in the region, and internationally to highlight what inspired them to work in energy, what they do day-to-day in their jobs, and how we can together inspire other women to participate in energy—whether it is in oil and gas, renewable energy, power, green energy and sustainability, or energy research and development (R&D) or education.

The session had five inspirational speakers: Hidya Minkabu, DarTec, Saudi Arabia; Fai Aldossari, Aramco, Saudi Arabia; Fatima AlDhaheri, Senior IEEE R8 PES Middle East and North Africa, UAE; Professor Afreen Siddiqi, MIT, USA; and Dr. Noura Mansouri, KAPSARC, Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Malak Al-Nory organized and moderated a panel on women in energy at the 6th Saudi Arabia Smart Grid and Sustainable Energy Conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Our goal was to inspire a new generation of women to join the clean energy field by highlighting the accomplishments of the industry’s rising stars and simultaneously building a strong community of women in the field. We would like to bring a real change and encourage further contributions of women in the clean energy field.

The conversation came after the successful session held last year on “Women in Engineering” at the same conference. The session last year explored the opportunities and the challenges ahead of Saudi women in the various fields of engineering and shed light on the successes already achieved.

The session shared our speakers' inspiring journeys toward their full engagement and constant passion toward energy fields; they discussed how they sculpted a road map that encourages other women globally—and Saudi women specifically—to take a part in this essential humanistic and industrial topic.

As Nada Alquadi, an electrical and computer engineering student noted, "The Women in Energy session's objective was outstandingly met—they reached the audience, us female engineering students in specific, and the speakers indeed succeeded in fulfilling this objective by appearing as true ambassadors who were absolutely capable to inspire us energy women of the next generation."

Another female student said, "The whole conference was an eye opener and a new experience, and for sure the Women in Energy session encouraged me to pursue my engineering studies and be the next helping and leading generation in such fields."

Eng. Fai Aldossary, Aramco, Session Speaker, said, "It's nice to see recognized platforms within the Kingdom to engage and share experiences and different journeys. It was definitely a great opportunity to meet other leaders and innovators within the industry!"

A female attendee noted after the event that “the Women in Energy session was an outstandingly inspiring session for all of us to believe in the reality that women contributions, Saudi women, are an important factor for the energy industry's growth and sustainability."

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