I’m a clinical psychologist by profession, but also a TV presenter and a passionate advocate for basic human rights, so I wear many hats that bring joy to my life. My name is Samira Al-Ghamdi and this is my journey.
I was born into a moderate family. My father, Khalid, was a dreamer who enjoyed music and was an avid reader and collector of books. He cared very much about our education, which he saw as our key to venturing out into the world. My mother, Hind Al-Ajooza was the disciplinarian but she was kind at heart. She brought us up according to traditional Madinah morals and disciplines so that we learned how to take care of ourselves later on in life.
I’m the oldest child, with two sisters and two brothers. I looked up to my father, a man with a great heart and soul, and I inherited his love of books. He would buy me novels by Ihsan Abdel Qoddus and the like, and encouraged us to always search for the answers to our questions.
I grew up in Riyadh and majored in clinical psychology from King Saud University. I married soon after and had three children, Abdul Malik, Jummar and my youngest Jana.
I focused on my work as a clinical psychologist, pouring all my energy into it, and my media role grew out of that. I hosted a number of shows on various Arab channels.
I attended seminars and courses that focus on abuse and neglect, an area of growing interest. I don’t involve politics in the mix, but looked rather at the humanitarian aspect. I immersed myself in this field and started giving lectures. In 2009, I founded an NGO, the Himaya Association for Family Care, which provides services to protect women, children, disabled, elderly people’s rights from abuse. I was recently appointed its chairman.
I divided my time between hosting media shows and my work as a clinical psychologist, doing my duty diligently for an important humanitarian cause. I’m very passionate about both sides of my life, and they are both are a part of who I am, a figure in the media and a consultant.
My father became ill and was bed ridden for years, but nothing changed in our household — we were already programmed to his ways and everything went on as smooth as can be.
Five years ago, OSN began creating Arabic-based content and I was due to attend a meeting in Dubai to host a program, the first Saudi at the time to do so. However, some health challenges at the time forced me to put everything on hold as my hearing was affected.
My symptoms gradually eased but my family insisted that I go to the US for treatment. However, I had other ideas and I wanted to go ahead with the program. I’m very goal-oriented and I never want to miss an opportunity. I filmed the first season of the program from a wheelchair, returned home to Jeddah and flew to the US the next day.
I focused on my work as a clinical psychologist, pouring all my energy into it, and my media role grew out of that.
As excited as I was to have a pan-Arab program on television, I knew that I had to slow down, but that’s very difficult to do that if you’re as ambitious and driven as I am. But that was the doctor’s orders and, since I love life and all its gifts, I had to give in and tone down the excitement just a notch or two.
I was still hosting programs, mentoring young specialists at Himaya and I’m currently the head of Awareness, Media, and External Communication at Eradah Complex for Mental Health in Jeddah.
Two years ago, my father’s condition took a turn for the worst and he was hospitalized for a whole year. In turn, it brought a change in me, too. I love my life, enjoy traveling and reading, I’m social and generally live an active life. All that stopped and I couldn’t pinpoint why.
I fell ill a few weeks before my father died and required surgery, something I refused to undergo until he passed away. It brought me peace. It’s been a year since my surgery and I feel like myself again, ready to see what I can give back to my community.
As the coronavirus pandemic hit Saudi, I signed up to become a volunteer psychologist. I knew what to do, how to help people during a difficult time like this. This is my way of giving back.
I don’t plan on slowing down as I have so much left to do. I would like to live a simple life in the near future — devoid of technology, on a farm, growing my own food, raising animals along with my three Pomeranians, just like my father used to do.
I always believed that to achieve things in life, you have to be fully convinced that your way suits you best, I could not conform to a certain version of me shaped by society, I decided my own path, my way. I found joy in this belief and surpassed many hurdles in doing so.