By: Abdullah Al Qatan
Translated By : Taha Sakr
She was chosen in February 2016 as a member of the International Council of the American College of Physicians, which oversees policy-making, accreditation of internal medicine programs, and its development to serve the community and physicians.
This has made her world-renown, and reflected the remarkable level reached by Saudi doctors, in addition to her teaching at the university, and the establishment of a branch of the American College of Physicians in the Kingdom that provides services to internal medicine doctors and students of medical colleges in the Kingdom.
Leaders KSA magazine sat down with her Royal Highness; Princess Dr. Maha bint Mishari bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
Your Highness, your name has become internationally known, why?
I have been known internationally because my major which is internal medicine is few globally and locally, and working in a private university imposed a narrow environment, most of which are specialists.
How was your childhood, educational and career path?
I was born in Beirut, while my mother was from Aleppo, Syria, her father was a doctor. My mother was proud of him and his work, and his distinction. Just as my father, may God have mercy on him, always reminded him, I admired his personality.
I studied at the school in the State of Lebanon until the age of 12 years old, then we returned to Saudi Arabia, where I completed my studies in Riyadh schools, after that I graduated from King Saud University with the second class of honors, as I was the second in my class.
After graduation, I traveled to the United States, where I completed my training at George Washington University, then obtained the US Board of Internal Medicine, however, I decided to return to Saudi Arabia to work at King Faisal Specialist Hospital, I also joined the University of Al-Faisal, and I still do medical work in the hospital.
What about the challenges you faced in your educational and professional path?
In my studies of medicine, I was passionate about studying science, and knowing everything new, so every major I learned was added value to my personality and happiness. I stopped at many stations because of some obstacles, but they did not stop me from this path, I was trying to find a different path, and my trust in God was a foundation in my life.
How do you see the situation of women in Saudi Arabia today?
We have a long journey, but we are moving according to a clear vision and institutional implementation, as the individual has clear goals, a clear path, in addition to the clarity of the laws themselves.
As an official at Al-Faisal University, have leading women figures leaders gained their rightful place?
I am an example at the University for the Empowerment of women, since I joined her, I have been placed in a leadership position as an agent.
And on the Kingdom’s level, we witnessed a strong start supported by the state, so we have women’s leadership personalities, empowered according to a clear vision, as women are distinguished by their work, and not by anything else.
What is the effect of your membership in the International Council of the US International Association of Physicians?
This association is the second largest medical association specialized in USA, and the number of its members is 160,000, it is an expressive and important voice, when there was a ban by some of the nationalities of the US government from studying and working in it.
The association announced in an open letter to officials, stating that this decision is not in line with its principles of non-discrimination of people for any reason, gender or color.
I was representing the Saudi point of view before the heads of health councils in the world.
What is your feedback on the current policies for private education in Saudi Arabia?
Private universities face a very important challenge, as we have opened up to the world and our government allows all universities to open branches in the Kingdom. Today we have more than 50,000 students embraced by private universities, so the role of private universities is essential in the Kingdom; what requires these universities to be a degree Premium, and internationally recognized.
Women in the Kingdom occupy leadership positions in the public and private sectors, so how do we respond to those who demand that they stay at home?
We are part of the world, and today we cannot close the door on us. We have sent our students abroad to seek knowledge. If we should teach them our values, then they know the challenges of their generation.
We are confident in our values and principles that are derived from Islam, which has spread with love and peace, thanks to the good dealings with others, as well as the fact that women today complete half of society.
What do you say to women to confirm their societal presence, especially as some see that they have not obtained all their rights?
Here comes the role of civil society institutions and non-profit associations to highlight the voice of women through educational programs and human empowerment centers, whether man or woman, each with challenges.
What are the most common internal diseases in Saudi Arabia?
These diseases have been identified by King Faisal Specialist Hospital, including obesity and diabetes, as we are one of the highest countries in these two diseases, and we also suffer from genetic diseases, so the decision to check before marriage was issued.
You have prevented hydrogenated oils in the Kingdom, so how do you see this decision?
Right decision, because all foods with hydrogenated oils, as well as energy drinks, cause many diseases.
Therefore, a decision was made to prevent it, in order to reduce the incidence of diseases.