• One of the major highlights of the Venice Film Festival 2012, is “Wadjda, the first film to have been entirely filmed within Saudi Arabia, by the wonderful Saudi director, Haifaa Al Mansour. The story is very simple: A girl’s quest to own a bicycle. Adorable 10-year-old Waad Mohammed plays a girl who is also testing the boundaries of a woman’s place in a society where her love for Western music lands her in trouble. I have known Al Mansour for years and I know for a fact that “Wadjda” will be a success story. Obviously, “Wadjda” will only be available in the Kingdom on DVD or on cable television. • Another success story for Saudi women was the announcement that 30 women are expected to be appointed to the all-men Shoura Council in Saudi Arabia in 2013. On what basis would the ladies be selected? Criteria include Saudi citizenship, a minimum of 30 years of age, impeccable personal record, high level of competency and practical experience. It’s about time Saudi women take a stand. • I read an astonishing statistics this week. Per capita water consumption in Saudi Arabia is 91 percent higher than the international average, Not only are we the world’s largest producer of desalinated water (at least 17 percent of the total world output), but we also have invested $25 billion in the last 80 years developing the technology for desalination, and in building desalination plants. It is amazing that there are 30 desalination plants in the Saudi Arabia, 27 of which supply drinking water to the urban centers and industrial locations via a network more than 5,000km of pipelines. • You must have heard about the worst cyber attack in recent corporate history that hit Saudi Aramco affecting more than 30,000 company computers. The lesson here is that no one is immune from cyber threats and everyone is vulnerable. I was pleased by the Company’s officials’ positive spirit and confidence to meet this challenge. I am also impressed by Saudi Aramco’s professionalism in successfully managing this overwhelming crisis. • According to the GCC Business Confidence Index, Saudi Arabia led the GCC countries as the most optimistic market in the second quarter of 2012 followed by Oman and Qatar. This is encouraging news. Saudi Arabia is the most positive about future revenue growth, income and new investments top the list of the highest level of optimism across all GCC countries. This is not enough; we need to work smarter in improving productivity.
Tweet: “I’m very excited! This is my first time outside of Saudi Arabia and my first time in a film and I’m the lead actress.” 10-year-old Waad Mohammed