Salamun Alaikum from Saudi Arabia!

For our IBD project, we have worked with Dar Al Hekma (DAH), one of the leading private colleges for women in Jeddah. Three main pillars of our project is to prepare and deliver a 4-day workshop on business concepts (which was titled as “Essential Business Skills for New Professionals”), delivering an MBA info session to inform young women here about the MBA experience (DAH is contemplating to launch its MBA program as early as this fall) and provide recommendations for a Women’s Center to be launched by DAH.

Given that the weekends are Thursdays and Fridays here in Saudi Arabia, I can proudly say that by this time today we have officially finalized our project and successfully completed all our deliverables! Two days before all of you guys!

It has been almost three weeks since we arrived in Jeddah and we are quite accustomed to the daily life by now. For example, we left the US like this:

And that’s how you can see us outdoors (and mixed gender indoors) nowadays:

Happy faces after we have successfully delivered our workshop last week.

As a gesture to celebrate our end of project here, Dania and Kholoud, two amazing members of the Institutional Advancement Division staff took us to Al-Balad this evening. Al-Balad is the historical area of Jeddah, and could be translated as “the City”. Our tour guide Sami told us that Al-Balad was founded in the 7th century and historically served as the centre of Jeddah. The area was full of historical buildings and mosques built by various different civilizations. We had the opportunity to see from inside a couple of very significant historic buildings (including a former King’s mansion which was used 150 years ago) and wandered around among the traditional street vendors.

Al-Balad view

An interior view of the King’s mansion

A view of the street vendors

Saudi Arabia has definitely been an outstanding and horizon broadening experience for me. The most important aspect of this experience is the variety of people I have met here. From faculty members to students, from college staff to even the drivers, every single person whom I interacted with has impressed me one way or another. Some with their brilliant minds and communication skills, some with their joy and great sense of humor. And maybe most importantly, I am more than inspired by the determinism, courage and broad mindedness of women in their efforts to make Saudi Arabia a better country to live for women. In addition to that, the level of hospitality people have displayed to us is incredible! Whomever we have an interaction with at the college does not pass by us without asking questions to make sure that everything is going fine with us, that we are comfortable at our hotel, that we are doing activities enjoyable in Jeddah other than working on the project and that we have access to everything we need. After getting used to this endearing and almost “motherly” approach, it will be very difficult for us to say farewell in a couple of days!

—Zeynep Boga

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