Saudi Arabian Alumni Chapter gaining ground

Saudi Alumni Chapter members met on April 26 to discuss future plans for the Chapter.

-By Sonia Turosienski, KAUST News

Every year, a new team of alumni working in various industries, companies and cities across Saudi Arabia comes together to give back to KAUST, their alma mater, and serve on the executive board of the Saudi Arabian Alumni Chapter.

"This year, we received 27 outstanding nominations for the Chapter, which made it extremely difficult for the panel to make its selection," Lea Sublett, manager of Alumni Affairs said.

The Saudi Arabian Alumni Chapter has been steadily gaining ground as the alumni pool grows and an increasing number of graduates are remaining in the Kingdom after graduation. The Chapter is unique in that it caters to the M.S. and Ph.D. graduates living and working in the Kingdom, which represent around 51 percent of the total alumni. The global alumni network is also growing thanks to the online alumni network Rapport, which Sublett explained is like a "hybrid of Facebook and LinkedIn".

From job listings to online mentoring, Rapport gives alumni the ability to engage with the community no matter where they are.

On April 26, the fourth executive committee of the Saudi Alumni Chapter and the Alumni Affairs team met to set the agenda for the 2018 Saudi Alumni Chapter. Pictured (from left to right) Nigel Clarkson, Karim Khalil, Hussain Shibli, Lautaro Rayo, Teemu Hentunen, Noura Shehab, Hessa Al-Quwaiee and Lea Sublett.

"The job posting has really taken off without a lot of support from the Alumni Affairs staff. A lot of those jobs are academic—post-doctoral positions or fellowships. It's a really nice feature," Sublett said.

In April, an online mentoring pilot program was launched with a small group of students and alumni, an initiative which the executive team hopes to plan with time.

The Saudi Arabian Alumni Chapter executive team, which meets on campus biannually, met most recently on April 9 to crystallize the Chapter's direction into 2019. The Chapter's executive team agreed that engagement via on campus and regional meetings, as well as developing new content on Rapport, was integral to adding value to alumni. In their own words, the 2018 team reveals what's next for the Chapter.

Noura Shehab, president, Saudi Arabian Alumni Chapter 2018

Ph.D. 2014, environmental engineering

Currently working as the chief technologist at Research Products Development Company

"All universities grow through their alumni. KAUST counts on us to do that. We always as alumni have to remember that we are KAUST ambassadors," Shehab said when explaining her motivation to join the Chapter.

"This year, our mission is to create a 'Community for Life' that continues long after graduation. My goals are to increase engagement by launching new activities through Rapport and creating opportunities for social gatherings."


Hussain Shibli, vice president, Saudi Arabian Alumni Chapter 2018 
M.S. 2013, applied mathematics and computational science

Currently working as director general of the National Renewable Energy Data Center in King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE)

"It is my personal responsibility to make an impact. As a chapter, we have a long list of opportunities; however, we need to focus on the activities that make the biggest impact. First of all, I want to engage the maximum possible number of KAUST alumni with the Chapter's activities. Secondly, I want to catalyze collaboration between our alumni."


Mona Alsomali, vice president (communications), Saudi Arabian Alumni Chapter 2018Ph.D. 2016, bioscience

Currently working as a senior microbiologist at the Dow Middle East Innovation Center

"Being an alumus doesn't mean becoming disconnected from the University. My goal is to get alumni excited, engaged and set them up to take over the reins in the coming years," explained Alsomali. "I studied at KAUST for almost four, years so I have an emotional connection with this wonderful University. Coming back to campus to work for one of the companies after being back in Jeddah for a year was a huge blessing. It's affected my career very positively and facilitated my work at Dow."


Hessa Al-Quwaiee, vice president (programs), Saudi Arabian Alumni Chapter 2018
M.S. 2013, Ph.D. 2016, electrical engineering

Currently working as an engineer at Huawei

"I want to build new programs for alumni to help facilitate meetings across Saudi Arabia. I think the Chapter could benefit from creating continuity between the executive teams from one year to the next so long term projects can be planned. Sometimes it's good to take responsibility for voluntary work that you are not paid for and give back to the community, " Al-Quwaiee expressed.

The executive team is joined by committee members Kareem Khalil (M.S. '12), Vasiliki Kordopati (M.S. '17), Lautaro Rayo (M.S. '12) and Mohammad Shaqura (M.S. '12).

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