A role model from the GCC’s government sector, Dr Saleh Al-Awaji

I’m not easily impressed, and I don’t often give compliments. It’s a character flaw of mine. However, every now and then comes along a person who amazes me by their determination, their work ethic, and their belief that they can make a difference.

One of those people who I have not only had the absolute pleasure to meet, but actually to work with is Dr Saleh Al-Awaji. Dr Al-Awaji is the Deputy Minister of Electricity and Water. Not only that, he is the Chairman of Saudi’s electricity provider, the Saudi Electricity Company.

Now, usually senior government officials can be heard to reach, they’re surrounded by their staff, and they are difficult to talk to. When or if you do get the chance to talk to them, don’t expect more than a couple of lines before they move on to their next engagement.

To me, Dr Al-Awaji is everything that a government employee should be. He’s incredibly hard working (how many times  have you received an email from a GCC government official out of office hours) and he’s passionate about what he is doing. I’ve always been struck by Dr Al-Awaji and his determination to make a difference through his work. He’s also eloquent and knows more about the energy sector in Saudi than anyone.

Have a look at the gallery below to see more about Dr Al-Awaji and what he is working on. We need more government officials like Dr Al-Awaji. I for one am grateful for knowing and having worked with the Deputy Minister and Chairman of Saudi Electricity Company. If you’re interested in Dr Al-Awaji’s full bio then go here (yes, he even has his own website!).

 

Link

ImageThe past couple of months have been unusual for the Kingdom’s English language media sector. First, Saudi’s leading English language newspaper by circulation appointed a new Editor-in-Chief Abdulwahab Al-Faiz in October 2011. Al-Faiz, who was previously Editor-in-Chief of the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Eqtisadiah, replaced the long-standing incumbent Khaled AlMaeena.

Since then, Arab News has changed some of its print layout and pulled more news from Arabic-language newspapers particularly those owned by its publisher the Saudi Research & Publishing Company. Al-Faiz was known at Al-Eqtisadiah for increasing advertising revenues through supplements and special reports.

AlMaeena has been associated with Arab News for over twenty years. He built the editorial team. For many reader AlMaeena was the newspaper, he was as much Arab News as Arab News was him. Even after he’d left the Arab News in October of last year, AlMaeena still held the title of Editor at Large for Arab News (even on Wikipedia he’s still listed as their Editor-in-Chief).

The announcement of AlMaeena as the Saudi Gazette’s Editor-in-Chief two weeks ago was a shock to many. However, the decision by Okaz, the publisher of the Saudi Gazette, may be a masterstroke. In many ways AlMaeena is just as much of a brand as is the Arab News. He has always supported issues associated with the expatriate community in Saudi Arabia, especially Asians.

In those two weeks at the helm of Saudi Gazette AlMaeena has already hired a number of his team. The ex-deputy Editor at Arab News Somayya Jabarti and Laura Bashraheel among others are now plying their trade at Saudi Gazette. I for one hope that AlMaeena keeps doing what he does best, namely focusing on editorial quality and running stories that are in the interest of the expatriate community. Already people have been writing into the newspaper wishing AlMaeena and his team success.

A letter written by a Saudi Gazette reader from Toronto congratulating AlMaeena and his team on the news of their appointment at the newspaper.

So what now for the Arab News? For me, it wasn’t a natural decision to appoint Al-Faiz who had never edited an English-language paper. The announcement hinted at the publisher wanting to increase advertising and other non-advertising revenues. The danger to Arab News is that with a lack of good editorial their readership numbers will fall, and consequently their advertising revenues.

My other hope is that Saudi Gazette will start adopting more social media channels to promote the newspaper. AlMaeena is a social media enthusiast who has embraced Twitter. Let’s hope that the bold move by Okaz will raise the standard of English-language media in Saudi Arabia. I can’t wait to see what AlMaeena and his team do at the Saudi Gazette.

PS for a fascinating insight into Khaled AlMaeena by one of his Arab News writers, read this blog post by Siraj Wahab