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7 Saudi Nationals on What Makes Them the Proudest of Their Kingdom

To celebrate the 91st Saudi National Day on September 23, Vogue Arabia has chosen a group of Saudi nationals whose success in the Kingdom resonates through the world. HRH Princess Deemah Bint Mansour Bin Saud Alsaud, Mohammed Al Turki, Noura Sulaiman, Nojoud Alrumaihi, Layla Moussa, Reema Juffali, and Honayda Sairafi share with us their pride in their Kingdom, the best part of living there, their projects, and their favorite places.

Noura Sulaiman
Fashion designer

Photo: Supplied

Noura Sulaiman, a Saudi fashion designer, believes that the best part of being in KSA now is witnessing the modernization of her country, coupled with the respect and conservatism of the culture and heritage. “I am excited for our country’s future and the vision it has for itself,” she says. Sulaiman’s brand has been chosen as one of the Saudi 100 Brands at the Fashion Commission under the Ministry of Culture. “I am humbled to be among such talented brands under the wings of experienced mentors. This is an amazing opportunity, so thank you to the Ministry of Culture, the Fashion Commission, and Vogue Arabia for believing in your local talents.” She is proud of her country, especially its people. “Seeing the wave of emerging creatives and intelligent generations who are rising up to fulfill their passion and aspirations for themselves and their country. The Saudi people hold great values and are supportive of each other’s successes, and I am proud to be part of such community.” About her favorite hidden spot in her city, she reveals, “Maybe it’s the desert girl in me, but I am happiest when I am surrounded by palm trees. Although it is not so hidden, my favorite spot is Albujairi in Diriyah.”

Nojoud Alrumaihi
Marketeer and co-founder of Upbeat

Photo: Supplied

Nojoud Alrumaihi is a marketing specialist, social activist, and one of the most glamorous women in Saudi. She believes the best part of being in the Kingdom now is feeling safe and knowing your loved ones are safe. “It’s an unparalleled feeling. Given the situation the world is experiencing now with Covid-19, KSA’s phenomenal response to the spread of the disease and providing vaccinations, thankfully made it one of the safest places throughout the pandemic.”

She usually likes to keep the projects she is working on confidential until they are fully ready to be launched but shared exclusively with Vogue Arabia, “I’m currently working on a project that involves hair care, specifically curly hair. I would love to see many girls proud and confident in their natural hair. I am also working on marketing consultations more often lately, which is something I truly enjoy doing.”

Alrumaihi says that progress is what makes her the proudest about her country. “Saudi Arabia has been progressing on all fronts: industrial, economic, financial, and, most importantly, cultural. The cultural rise has been significant in Saudi and gaining good traction internationally, which is something I am extremely proud of.”

About her favorite hidden spot in her city, she says, “There is a quiet spot with really old swings next to my house, it’s my escape from everything. But I would definitely like to keep the location hidden. Sorry, Vogue!” she laughs.

Layla Moussa
Fashion designer

Photo: Majid Angawi

Layla Moussa is the fashion designer and textile expert behind some of the most luxurious and intricately embroidered kaftans and jackets in Saudi Arabia in the 38 years since launching her brand. She believes the best part of being in the Kingdom now is “the feeling of safety and stability we have, when we are witnessing what is happening to most of the countries in the Middle East.” Moussa is proud of her country, especially how it dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic, and praises it saying, “The fantastic care our government gave us during the pandemic, no other country did for its citizens what was and is still being done for us here.” The amazing progress and change are what makes her proud of her country. “What we are witnessing on many levels is unprecedented and the fantastic support for women is amazing,” she explains.

Reema Juffali
Professional racing car driver

Photo: Supplied

Reema Juffali, the first Saudi female racing car driver and the first Saudi female to hold a racing license believes that the best part of being in the Kingdom now is definitely experiencing the change and progress the country is going through in such a short space of time. “I experience that firsthand when I come back home in between my races. Whether it is hosting international events or opening up to tourism, or even just expanding the public sphere. It is definitely an exciting time,” she says. On the most exciting projects she is currently working on, Juffali says, “There’s a few leading up to the Saudi Grand Prix later this year, which are really exciting. But you will definitely have to wait and see.” Upon asking what makes her the proudest of her country, she answers, “Without a doubt, its people. It is so refreshing and exciting to see Saudis challenging themselves, taking on new roles, and creating opportunities for themselves and others in fields like sport, arts, and the entertainment sector. I have no doubt that Saudis have so much to offer, and I am excited to see what the future holds for us.” About her favorite hidden spot, Juffali says, “My favorite hidden spot is in Jeddah – I don’t know if it is so hidden but it is definitely an escape for me. And that is being in the water, being in the Red Sea, whether it is scuba diving or snorkeling, I’ve always enjoyed that and it still continues to be my favorite spot.”

Honayda Sairafi
Fashion designer

Photo: Lina Mo. Production: Basamat Arabia

Styling A-list celebrities regionally and globally, Honayda Sairafi is a fashion designer with her own brand. She loves Saudi Arabia. “I am a person who is very close to her land and heritage and have always enjoyed living in Saudi Arabia. I had a beautiful childhood with lots of memories in different corners of my country. I feel blessed now to be witnessing this era of development in the Kingdom, with a young government implementing amazing projects contributing to the country’s growth on the economic level, as well as on the cultural and educational levels, while always preserving the Saudi heritage. I am proud to see women being empowered more and more and art and fashion being placed at the center of a number of initiatives in the Kingdom,” Sairafi says.

She is currently working on several projects aside from the Honayda collections as she always likes to employ her experience and resources into supporting young designers and giving back to the community. “We have a special project coming up on Saudi National Day in collaboration with Al Ula NPO – the first NPO to ever be registered in the Kingdom – and its mission is to support underprivileged divorced women with families. The collaboration involves children as well, as we guide them to develop their artistic sensibilities from a young age,” says Sairafi about her future projects. But she will not reveal further spoilers as “a lot of projects are in the process still!” When asked about what makes her the proudest of her country, she explains, “Aside from being proud of the cultural richness of my country, there is a special characteristic that seems to be deeply rooted in every Saudi Arabian; it is the sense of social responsibility. Not only towards each other here in the Kingdom, but it also expands on a broader level of simply being humans, and standing by the sides of people in need around the world. And this is something I am truly proud of, as I grew up with these humanitarian values.” She feels blessed to have been raised in a country with such natural variety and a rich ecosystem. From the magical deserts to the greener regions and the breathtaking Red Sea, each region has its own identity and own fashion heritage. “The old city of Jeddah is another gem that has a sentimental place in my heart,” she says. “I do, nonetheless, have a secret favorite spot, and that is life underwater. As a diver, I love to disconnect in the depths of the Red Sea and enjoy the serenity of the waters. And lately, with the surge of the new coastal cities such as NEOM, I am excited to discover what their waters hide!”

Lastly, she has an impressive wish for Saudi Arabia and its people. “I would like to wish my dear Kingdom and its beautiful people a happy 91st Saudi National Day. May our country keep growing and thriving for healthy development, and congratulations to our governments for always pushing to set an example for the coming generations.”

HRH Princess Deemah Bint Mansour Bin Saud Al Saud
Founder of Personage concept store, Riyadh

Photo: Courtesy of Personage

“For me, Saudi Arabia has always been home,” says HRH Princess Deemah Bint Mansour Bin Saud Alsaud, founder of Personage concept store in Riyadh. “What is now quite exciting is the number of developments happening across all sectors, and the global recognition of Saudi Arabia and its boundless potential. With Vision 2030, there is a sense of great ambition and drive in the people of Saudi Arabia, each taking pride in their talents and abilities, motivated to develop and showcase them. We are also inviting the world to come and experience Saudi Arabia, and with this, there is a great potential for intercultural exchange and mutual development. The best thing about this is that the world can discover for themselves what the real Saudi is.” On the most exciting projects she is currently working on, she says, “As the founder of Personage, I have always strived to create pioneering experiences and activations that support regional talents while supporting global exchange between creators in the sectors of fashion, art, music, design, and creativity as a whole. Ahead of us are more projects that strive to fulfill these goals, with a great emphasis on supporting regional talents. I have firsthand seen the immense potential and creative talents emerging here in the region and I am proud to be able to support many of these individuals through Personage while building relationships and facilitating exchange continuously. For me, personally, I have always been hands-on in developing many of the projects, however, I am taking on a greater role in directing and leading various initiatives,”

What makes Princess Deemah the proudest of her country is the vision for the future and the aspiration to innovate and be pioneering, while adhering and holding value for the customs, traditions, and cultural heritage. “This combination is how we truly have authenticity and this brings me a great deal of pride. Furthermore, the support and acceptance for each person towards another, the celebration of each person’s unique talents and abilities, and the motivation, determination, and boundless vision I see all around me make me incredibly proud of my country,” she explains.

For Princess Deemah, Riyadh is a jewel of many wonders. “In the past few years, many beautiful spots have been discovered, developed, and created both for tourism, as well as being realized as a result of regional innovation and entrepreneurship. For me personally, however, my ultimate favorite spot in my city lays in the Wadi Hanifa valley. It brings me a sense of calmness, simplicity, and serenity, allowing me to focus my mind and think freely,” she says.

Mohammed Al Turki
Film producer

Photo: Abdulrehman Bayashout

The Saudi producer has created several films featuring major movie stars in the US and Europe. He believes that the best part about being in KSA now is witnessing its endless creative opportunities and the fact that there is always something new. He is working on important projects and was appointed last July as chairman of the Red Sea international film festival committee. “We are gearing up for our film festival this December. It was recently announced that the Red Sea Fund received an additional US $4 million to support Arab filmmakers,” he says. On a personal level, “I’m working on two new Hollywood movies with a local flavor.” Proud of his country, Al Turki says, “There are many reasons to call me a proud Saudi. From entertainment to sports and tourism, our young people are leading the country to great milestones in the Kingdom’s history in many sectors. Our country is rich in history and culture, and we feel proud to make it known to the world.”

As for his favorite hidden spot in his city, “If I tell you, it won’t be a hidden spot anymore! I certainly enjoy visits to Ithra, King Abdulaziz Cultural Center in my hometown Dhahran. The impressive interior and exterior, the class A art and culture programs and exhibitions, an immaculate theatre… Every corner inspires me.”

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