I built myself from scratch. In a household with 10 siblings, I was a middle child, and my father’s favorite. I’m a photographer by passion and consultant by profession, my name is Ohoud Alharbi and here’s my story.
I’ve always been very opinionated, and my family has allowed me to be open about my stance on many things.
Growing up, I was immensely interested in art, specifically drawing throughout my adolescence. I do not draw anymore, but have taken an interest in photography, and I especially enjoy capturing people going about their daily lives.
I do not consider myself a professional, rather a semi-professional in street photography. On my Instagram account, I document stories from around the world through the cities I have visited.
When women driving was permitted, my life turned 180 degrees. It has allowed me to rediscover the city in which I was born. I started seeing Riyadh in a new light as a photographer. I became giddy about discovering new places that I could capture through the lens of my camera.
Before that, I used to always go out with my driver and felt like I had to accommodate him and other family members. During one of these drives, I came upon a spot that got me thinking about creating a personal project for myself.
It was right across King Saud University, targeting students and staff, where I decided to set up a high-quality coffee shop that was affordable and accessible to them.
Soho Shot opened in April of 2019, and my partners and I anticipated the students’ return to school to test our brand and services. We’ve chosen the name based on New York City’s neighborhood of art, and our logo — a one-line drawing of a face sipping coffee — is artistic and minimalistic in a way that we hope will draw students in.
When women driving was permitted last June, my life turned 180 degrees. It has allowed me to rediscover the city in which I was born.
As a coffee lover myself, and keeping in with social trends, the idea struck me while driving past the empty spot and in a way, it felt right. Most students need their morning cup of coffee or a quick fix before exams. I made sure to design Soho Shot spaciously to provide them with a cozy place to study.
In our coffee house, we also sponsor artists to come in and draw and decorate coffee cups for customers.
For four years, between 2005 and 2009, I worked in Riyad Bank’s call center. I then suggested to management about monitoring call center demands and supervising service agreements, which enabled me to move to the back office to maintain quality assurance.
After that experience, I decided to continue with my studies, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration and administrative systems while simultaneously working at the National Water Co. (NWC).
At the time, the NWC had just launched, and I started in corporate relations overseeing quality assurance. I then moved up the ladder and joined performance management as a specialist, monitoring the company’s projects in Riyadh.
When I graduated from the Arab Open University, many more opportunities presented themselves to me. I started working for Tata Consultancy Services, providing service-level agreement reports for General Electric projects.
From there, I moved on to the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) where I was a supervisor in the project management office.
Last October, I left GACA and am currently working as a consultant.
I have always been independent, even as a child and I am very lucky to have a family that has helped shape the woman I am today and is understanding of how demanding my career is.
Follow Ohoud Alharbi