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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - My name is Mariam Alhabidi, I’m a mother to Saif and Mariam and I’m a digital entrepreneur. I was born and raised in Jubail Industrial City, my father was one of its co-founders and my mother was a girl’s school principal.
I was raised in a semi-conservative family that knew nothing but being positively productive. My father, who is originally from Yanbu, moved to Dhahran with Saudi Aramco, later joining the Royal Commission of Jubail. He encouraged us to be active, learn and become independent by learning proper skills.
He would always tell me: “Be patient Mariam, be patient and good things will come,” something I learned would benefit me immensely later in life.
Our family was one of the first 40 to move to the industrial city, as part of his job in the public relations office, he took over many initiatives that gave back to the community, another lesson that would shape who I am today. One of these initiatives was to open a girl’s school as he knocked on every door to collect signatures to launch the first school for girls in the city. He got the signatures, presented the petition to the ministry and upon that request, the school came to be.
Education was key and he discouraged wasting time. My siblings and I learned English from a very early age, picked up hobbies such as ballet and judo, which was not common in the 1980s.
I recall one summer, I became a swimming coach while I was still a student because it mattered to him that I became independent, and that I have my own income from a young age. That has instilled in me the strong belief that financial independence greatly helps women.
I used to tag along with him on several official assignments. From as young as 7, I followed him when members of the royal family would visit, such as Prince Sultan bin Salman and others.
My mother was a school principal, through her I learned to be supportive and disciplined. She was always encouraging, she would always say that that as a woman, I could do anything I set my heart to. She always encouraged us to read, to learn something new and to never stop.
I went to Dammam University where I gained my bachelor’s degree and discovered myself. I worked at the Prince Mohammad bin Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Program for Youth Development as manager in the Jubail Industrial City branch for four years, and trained young girls on women’s empowerment, teaching self-development and self-assessment before setting out into the world. I was realizing who I could become one day soon.
I later joined the Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Development Fund as a consultant while simultaneously pursuing my master’s in business management. In 2010, I headed to the US for another master’s of science and technology in global technology and development, training in the Saudi Embassy in Washington soon after.
Upon returning, I worked for Aramco for a while but it wasn’t fulfilling my heart’s desire, which was to empower women. I decided to move on, I am a proud Aramcon but I found my calling.
We go through various stages of growth in our lives, lessons are learned and we get to realize how far we go to achieve things, but not every stage is easy. After I was married, I focused on my marriage and after having my first child, Saif, I found some hardships can turn to blessings later on. I grew a lot and I learned how to deal with life from a different perspective.
I founded Cr8ive two years ago, out of a passion to help the youth find their place in the world. With the support of my husband, Abdulrahman Alnuaimi, and with both my children by my side, my small business grew and we now operate in three countries.
The company focuses on technology development and we provide support to entrepreneurs in many things: Starting a small business, what career suits them best and helping them create business plans, all from start to finish. The entrepreneur in me aspires to help anyone I meet, I found that my happiness not only lies in being a wife and mother, but also in giving back to people. This is what I picked up from my parents, community and the different stages I went through in life.
It’s a lot being a wife, a mother of two and a COO of a company. It’s not always easy to disconnect from work, but it’s my commitment to helping others that makes me happy; my family is everything. They are my backbone and my support system. I always say that I see myself growing with Mariam and Saif by my side, my husband and my family behind me, with a laptop on my lap. As funny as it may seem, being a working mom at home has its difficulties and advantages but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Times have changed in the entrepreneurial world, there is less competition and more cooperation. I am proud to say that with my current path, I can keep going, support my community and work efficiently with my family surrounding me and placing them first, always and foremost.
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