Saudi woman engineer breaks new barriers

Sheikha Al-Rashed works in the oil fields of Oman

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By Mohammed Al-Abdullah

Okaz/Saudi Gazette


SHE is a Saudi engineer who was able to penetrate one of the male strongholds — the oil industry — thanks to her educational qualifications and professional expertise.

Sheikha Al-Rashed is now working in the oil fields of Oman taking up the challenges posed by the difficult profession.

Speaking to Okaz/Saudi Gazette, Al-Rashed said she selected the Sultanate for the career because it allowed women to work in oil fields and it is located close to Saudi Arabia. Moreover, both countries share the same social and cultural values.

She noted that her work requires constant travel to Oman.

Al-Rashed highlighted the important role women can play in this vital sector, which represents one of the main pillars of the regional economy.

She stated that work in the field of petroleum engineering requires professional flexibility and the ability to perform a variety of tasks and adapt to rapid changes in the sector.

Excerpts of the interview with Sheikha Al-Rashed:

Q: What were your motives behind selecting petroleum engineering for a career, and what are the difficulties being faced by women in the field?

A: Our economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas and I believe that women have a great role to play in this vital sector. Therefore, more women must be encouraged to work in this sector, which represents one of the main pillars that support the national development process.

The sector offers promising global opportunities and important experiences that helped me to strengthen my capabilities and do my work efficiently.

Regarding the difficulties faced by women in the sector, I would like to point out that we have very limited opportunities in the Kingdom. It would help us gain new experiences by working in the oil fields and it requires great efforts to prove our potential.

Personally, I have received the encouragement and support of my family and friends who always motivated me to move forward to realize my professional dreams.

Q: What are the elements required for continuation in the oil business?

A: We have to show a sense of initiative and commitment and work hard to make continuous achievements in the sector. The passion for work encourages me to strive for making greater strides. Women professionals interested to work in the field of petroleum engineering must be flexible and ready to perform different tasks. They should have the ability to adapt to rapid changes in the sector.

A major portion of my job requires communication with people having different cultural backgrounds, and therefore we should respect such differences.

Finally, we should know that any job requires hard work, commitment and determination to achieve success. It is not shameful to fail at some point, but we must learn lessons from failures and mistakes to further improve our performance. Moreover, we should be determined to reach our professional goals.

Q: Why did you choose Oman?

A: Working with a global company offers great opportunities and provides an ideal atmosphere for acquiring technical knowledge and expertise. These are vital factors for professional development. The company provides us with continuous support and training to enhance our skills and capabilities.

I chose to work in Oman in order to become a springboard for my career as the country allows women to work in oil fields. Geographically Oman is located close to Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the two GCC member states share the same social and cultural values and traditions. Work requirements and atmosphere in Oman are similar to those in the Kingdom.

Q: What is the nature of your work and do you see any involvement of Saudi women in the oil industry?

A: My job requires travel to Oman as the work site is about 4 to 5-hour drive away from Muscat. I spend there about two weeks until the completion of the task. I will be very happy to see significant growth in the number of Saudi women working in the oil and gas sector and petroleum engineering.

Q: How do you see the expertise gained by women in the oil industry?

A: We can obtain valuable experience working in the oil and gas sector and learn all stages of work. Today, women professionals receive significant support from the government and businesses as part of women empowerment initiatives. This opens the way for women cadres to take advantage of promising opportunities to achieve professional growth. Today, we have got a great opportunity to strengthen women's role in accelerating growth of this vital sector.

Finally, I would like to advise every woman who looks forward to working in the area to be ready to confront new challenges. They should not hesitate to enter this sector, which may look difficult in the beginning, and should not look at the oil and gas industry as the monopoly of men. The door is open to everyone to work in various sectors, depending on their scientific and professional skills and qualifications.


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