There is something incredibly special about a strong father-daughter relationship. It is a bond that I often took for granted. I was Daddy’s girl, raised in the field of poetry, literature, and philosophy, I’m Faten Hadrawi and this is my story.
As fate played a hand through harshness, in 10 years my father taught me the meaning of life, hard work, self-confidence and principles. Unfortunately, he died when I was only 13 years old.
Losing a parent can change you but losing your dad when you are Daddy’s girl transforms you.
The mission of raising my brother and myself was continued by our strong mother. Two young, well-behaved warriors in the battle of life. “A single mother has a backbone made of steel and a heart made of gold.” English literature as a major in college was my broad window to the life I loved. I always believed that I would have been a drama star in another life.
Shakespearean plays and poetry were my wings to the fantasy horizon. From there I flew with words and metaphors to express my ideas and soul.
After I married a gentle diplomat and had my son, Omar, our new family moved to the Spanish capital Madrid. As a result of my passion for languages, I took my diploma in Spanish language at the British Academy there.
Seven years passed and we returned to Riyadh. I knew I wanted to make a difference and decided to find work, build my knowledge and skills, and benefit myself and society at large.
To the astonishment of many, I started at Riyad Bank as a personal assistant to the head of the risk management department. I was a diplomat’s wife and yet, I was willing to carry stationery boxes, water plants and organize the storeroom. I believe no matter where we are and what job we are doing, we must do it with love and sincerity. “Work is love made visible,” said Lebanese writer Kahlil Gibran.
After five months, I was transferred to the chairman’s office after one of the seniors wrote to the chairman about my Arabic and English skills.
It was 2007, and I was working with a real believer in women’s empowerment at a time when women were still strangers in meeting rooms and the workplace. He saw no difference between men and women unless they proved the opposite.
With his support we were able to create a women’s committee with some of my colleagues. I was appointed committee secretary, taking care of all female employees’ issues.
On life’s journey you never know how it will end but you always need to work hard, mindful of reaching the bottom line with dignity.
A very empowered, employed lady decided then to move with her diplomat husband to Los Angeles, in California. A good wife also needs to be there for her husband and son.
Alongside my passion for learning, I feel passionate about penning my thoughts. I have always got something to tell; I breathe through writing.
I left Riyad Bank with tears of love and appreciation. I am what I am because of what I learned while working there for years — I will forever remember this fact.
As fate continued to surprise me with losses, two hard years in Los Angeles ended in my losing my brave husband after a strong struggle with illness.
Although I did not realize it at the time, living with my husband abroad had exposed me to different people from different cultures, helping me to learn how to deal with them individually and play my role as a diplomat’s wife and then using that experience to benefit me years later.
I married my husband when I was young and living abroad was the biggest lesson in life.
I returned to Jeddah, close to my mother, and continued my mission to raise Omar on my own, my boy who recently graduated as a civil engineer from the University of Business and Technology (UBT) in Jeddah.
I started looking for jobs when I was still in Iddah (the period a woman must observe after the death of her husband or after a divorce). After almost four months, my Arabic writing skills won me a position with Bupa Arabia, the biggest health insurance company in the Arab world, as a compliance/legal senior officer.
I was nominated to be the CEO’s office manager a year later. Since the day I was appointed to this role, eight years ago, I have been working with full heart, passion, and mind.
My job is not simply managing the CEO’s office. I also deal with arriving delegations and have found a niche as a welcoming face for high-level visitors to the company.
Another perk of working at Bupa is teaching the young officers in my department how to better their skills.
Alongside my passion for learning, I have always expressed myself in writing. “Passion is born from what matters most to you.” I feel passionate about penning my thoughts. I have always got something to tell; I breathe through writing.
I dream of a book where I will publish all of my stories, ethics, and imagination. I dream of a flowered, bright, colorful cafe full of coffee and healthy grains. I see my writing all around it. I see myself welcoming you all inside with my smile.