Top Ten Saudis I Want to Meet

Five days before Fouad al-Farhan was detained, he posted a list of ten least favourite Saudis that he does not wish to meet. At the end of that post, he wrote: “Coming soon: top ten Saudis that I love and wish to meet.” As a tribute to Fouad, I decided to give it a shot.

I thought it would be a piece of cake; and oh boy I was wrong! I was unpleasantly surprised that I could easily come up with 3, 4 or 5 lists like Fouad’s, but I could not find 10 Saudis that I really would like to meet. It did not help that I’ve already met some people who would otherwise have been on my list.

After borrowing the brains of few friends and several attempts to write and rewrite this list, I present you with my list of the ten Saudi personalities that I would like to meet in person:

1. King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
Although I’m pretty sure that his majesty’s schedule for the coming four years is totally full, I would really like if I get a chance to meet him, and if I ever get this chance, it would be one of the rare occasions where I’m looking forward to meet someone in order to talk to him more than listening.

2. Abdul-Rahman Al Lahim
A fellow blogger once called the human rights lawyer an “angel,” and I think that her description is not far from truth. Despite all the hardships that he has had to go through, including jail and travel ban not to mention being severely attacked by some ignorant idiots, he stood firm to defend the defenseless.

3. Khalid Al Dakhil
I’ve been a fan for the sociopolitics professor for a long time. When he was having a chat with Washington Post readers I was lucky to get to ask him a question, and I even have had a chance to talk with him on the phone last year, but I’m still waiting for the right time to have the pleasure of meeting him in person.

4. Sheikh Hasan Al Saffar
After spending some time as a dissent in exile in the 80’s, he returned home in the early 90’s and emerged as one of the most prominent Shia leaders in the country. Today, he represents one of the few voices here calling publicly for tolerance, moderation and a greater role for civil society.

5. Ghazi Al Gosaibi
You can say whatever you want about his performance in his different ministerial positions, but my admiration of Al Gosaibi has more to do with his writings as a novelist and a poet than his work for the government.

6. Maram Meccawy
Our newspapers are filled with aging editors and writers, the kind of people Fouad used to call “dinosaurs.” This is not the case with this young columnist and, I’m glad to say, fellow blogger who represents a breath of fresh air and gives the rest of us hope that the future of this nation may not be completely dark after all.

7. Buthaina Al Nassr
After being the first Saudi female news anchor to welcome viewers on Al Ekhbariya, she left the deteriorating channel and now works with Al Hurra. We spoke on the phone a couple of times and because she know that I’m constantly consuming junk food in Riyadh she was nice enough to invite me to try her cooking; something I’m looking forward to as she is also known for being a good cook :-)

8. Samia Al Amoudi
A brave, courageous woman who fought breast cancer and then made it her mission to raise awareness about this disease that kills hundreds of women in a society where talking about such issue is usually surrounded with shame.

9. Ebtihal Mubarak
The Arab News reporter has been described by CNN as “fearless” and her work on many stories during the past few years is simply groundbreaking. Ebtihal comes from a conservative background but that did not stop her from becoming one of the leading female journalists in Saudi Arabia.

10. Abdullah Al Hamed, Matruk Al Faleh and Ali Al Dumaini
The three reformists who were jailed for demanding a constitutional monarchy and later pardoned by King Abdullah soon after he ascended the throne are some of the most courageous political activists in the country. Al Hamed, and his brother Eisa, are now jailed in the aftermath of the women’s demonstrations in Qassim last summer, while Al Faleh and Al Domaini continue their efforts to promote human rights in the country.

Honorable Mentions: Turky Al Hamad, Badria Al Bisher, Wajiha Al Huwaider, Dima Al Azem, Othman Al Omair, Sami Al Jaber and Hatoon Al Fassi.

How about you people? Who’s on your list?

28 thoughts on “Top Ten Saudis I Want to Meet

  1. Noticed that women took 90% of ur list , but i must admit here that i’d love to meet them myself cuz they’re great.

    I would add the Saudi Ambassador to the US Adel Al Jubair.

  2. Quite an interesting list Ahmed,

    Turki Al Hamad and Al Qusaibi are on my list too… a lot of poets in the list, authors… few politicians…business gurus…

    There are people you want to meet just for the sake of meeting them and knowing who are they for real… others you’d want to have a walk with them, some you’d rather dine with and many… if you saw them walking in the road you’d walk away…

    it would be interesting to see your “top ten people you’d want to meet” … not only the top saudis !

  3. I want to meet Ahmed Al-Omran ;-)

    (Well, I most probably don’t even know 10 Saudis by name, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t appreciate a chat with you)

  4. Ebtihal Mubarak fearless journalist? It’s kidding. Writing on instigation of others is not fearless journalism. She has to learn many much more. Foremost, she has to learn ethics and manners. For me she is nothing but a whimsical lady – nothing more.

  5. Adel – what a shame to name Adel Al Jubeir as the 10 Saudis you would like to meet. He is all out a ‘yes man’ and a big nut.

  6. In may case Maram Meccawy is on the top of MY list.. and Samia Al-Amoudi, too

    thank you for the video about Ebtihal!! I see many “whimsical” men.. I think it will hurt no one if one lady decided to be”Whimsical”!!!!!!

  7. Onna, what a defense of Ebithal!! It’s no question of men or women, both should be considered and are equal. But Ebtihal, I stand by what I mentioned about her. She is a protege of a Old English media journalists, who is equally whimsical and impolite like her.

  8. HI,
    can anyone pls translate fouads list into english coz googles translation service is blocked in dubai

  9. I find it strange that we never hear about the best Arabs on yearly basis on the media, after all we’re copying all the shows and ideas except that one, we definitely have many role models but they are the unknown soldiers among us, I’m happy to see women on your list, it shows that we can triumph & reach out despite the seclusion…Good job & good idea…I’ll start make my own list once I get to know enough about Saudi men & women…

  10. Ismail Al Zahrani

    “It’s no question of men or women”>>> of course, you are right there.. I would wish every one could think the same on that point because we are naturally harder on women, you see..

    I only read her reports, you know!! you seem to have your own reasons!!!!

    No Offence intended!

  11. ..Oh Ismail Al Zahrani..You seem to just oppose who and why we want to meet these people…It was “Ahmed” Top Ten List”…Whether they deserve it or not its his wishes…

    I have heard alot about Adel Al Jubeir (The current Saudi Ambassador in DC) when I was there and Personally I would very much like to meet him…

    Waleed Bin Talal has been on my list since 2000!!!!..

  12. I am surprised nobody names Osama bin Laden. Do you maybe all believe he is dead? If he is still alive I would love to talk to him; even if I don’t agree with everything he does… soooooo many questions!

  13. Good picks. I might add Mona Abu Sulayman. Now if you extended the list, on a lark, to Saudis dead AND alive, the list would be much longer.

  14. Ah, there you have it!

    I might yet get to meet ‘Adil al Jubeir here in DC, but I cannot say he would have been on my list however. I just sent a letter to his brother at the Embassy, we’ll see how that goes.

    ‘Adil does seem more accessable than Prince Bandr, that is for sure.

  15. Thanks Ahmed, I have been visiting your blog from time to time and I like it!
    The last year has been too busy for me, a lot of dramatic changes in my academic life limited my free-time and hence wasn’t able to get involved as much as I wanted with the Blogging community.

    Any ways, I’m honored that you mentioned my name here..I would like to meet you very much as well..maybe we can arrange a ‘ skype’ web conference or flash meeting for Saudi bloggers? what do you think?
    (BTW: my TV interview with Al-Hurra channel is available now on might change your mind after watching it ;))

    As for King Abdullah..I met him in London last Nov., and I fell in love with him..really! He is kind, charming, lovable and very modest..he loves his country could just feel it!

    Who would I like to meet?
    Well, you have mentioned some of those..
    but frankly since I was shocked more than once by people who I have thought “the world of” that let me down when I met them..I would rather not to meet any body in real life :) so I could save my self from disappointment!

    Take care,

  16. I am spiritual mortivational speaker from Ghana, we go to elections soon, may the prayers of my brothers of islam pray for a peaceful election in ghana may the divine prayers of prophet Ahmed pbuh cover us all, wishing you Salem, Salem,

  17. i am a spiritual motivational speaker i want my brothers in islam to pray for peace in our election in dec2008 in ghana. may the prayers of prohet mohamed pbuh for peace bring us peace.

    i wish to meet the honour excellency King of Saudi arabi, salam salem to him may allah make me meet him after ramadan to foster brotherhood to all descendants of ishmael and isaac, salem alekum

  18. amazing list!!…
    id probably say the same thing!

    and i have great respect for wajiha al huwaider…she is an inspiration to me and i think to all saudi women who r trying to change the country and its prespective on women!!..

  19. Assalam Alaikum wa Ramatullahi wa Barakatuh

    I would like to meet a person who can listen and support me in my proposal regarding the Intergenerational gap of youth and the elderly specially the senior citizens. To do some programs in order to avoid and prevent clashes in between for a better relationship and fruitful life.

    Salam Alaikum,

    Dr. Amna Shakil

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