A former member of the Dhahran Junior Tennis Association has emerged as a true force with the women’s tennis team at the Air Force Academy in the United States.
Natasha Rizvi, who got her start in tennis as a 9-year-old in Dhahran, recently garnered the International Tennis Association’s Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award in the United States.
The Arthur Ashe Award recognizes outstanding individuals in all divisions at the regional and national level in the U.S. The award dates back to 1982 and goes to men’s and women’s players who have exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership, as well as scholastic, extracurricular, and tennis achievements.
Rizvi served as the women’s team captain in her senior year and was named the team’s most valuable player for the second straight year after earning all-conference honors in both singles and doubles play this season.
The 20-year-old set new school marks for the most doubles wins in a single season (28) and most wins in single season (51).
Rizvi completed her senior year as the winningest player in school history with 170 career combined wins in singles and doubles, and was the school’s first Division I player to make the finals of three tournaments, winning two of them. She helped her Air Force team to its sixth straight winning season, with 18 wins against nine losses, recording the second most wins in the Division I era of the school’s history.
Rizvi enjoyed a stellar junior tennis career growing up as a member of the Dhahran Junior Tennis Association. She started playing in tournaments throughout Asia when she was 11, and quickly established herself as a top player in her age group in the Middle East.
Rizvi graduated this spring from the Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in management and is now a finance officer with the U.S. Air Force based in Hanscom, near Boston.
There is a sense of wonder at the iRead camp enrichment forum, a place crowded with dedicated and enthusiastic readers.
The iRead program, a flagship program of the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, strives to promote reading through a competition where young people give presentations related to how particular books have changed their lives. The top 10 of the 36 participants at the iRead forum will go on to next month’s final.
Back for its third year with a distinctive leap on both the organizational and cultural levels, iRead has developed from being exclusively for Saudi participants to a wider remit to reach all those who love reading: citizens and residents alike. It is now recognized as a transformative initiative across the Saudi and Gulf region.
At the forum, it is not strange to stand with Abdullah Al-Muhssin and Ail Sulais to hear discussions on the merits of introducing intellectualism into poetry and vice versa. Which of the two is better? Might bringing poetry into intellectualism cause more harm than good? It is not unusual to find a young man such as Mishari Al-Hamoud staying up until dawn with Faiz Al-Shammari studying linguistics intricacies.
Experience and Transformation
Buthainah Al-Issa, founder of the Takween creative writing project, said: “The iRead competition is a pioneering competition on the international level, and I hope to see this copied in all the Arabian capitals.”
What makes iRead really special is the quality of the participants. Possessing a depth of experience that belies their young age, one finds participants from the intermediate school level with a stronger passion for reading and knowledge rather than games or entertainment.
Abulrahman Al-A’arook, 14, from Dammam, said his love of reading stirred in the third grade when his school announced a book lending competition by the library. When he came across a Harry Potter book that lit a passion in his heart, he ended up reading the whole series — seven volumes. He read more than 50 books in the summer vacation going into the fifth grade. When his father heard about the iRead competition and asked him to participate, he did so thinking he was the most important reader or the only one. When he arrived, he realized that he wasn’t alone.
And then there is Nada Al-Ghamdi, 18, in high school. While she was in kindergarten, before being able to read, she saw her older sister learning to read and delighting in her ability to spell words. Her father began buying her illustrated books to train her in reading, and as she grew, her family’s expectations grew with her. And she felt a responsibility. She was a living example of the Arabic saying: “You will become what your loved ones see you as.”
“I used to see life from a materialistic perspective before this forum, but with its programs that combined science, art, and literature, it made me find my balance between the tangible and the unseen,” she said.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Khatib, a professor of linguistics at King Abdulaziz University in Jiddah and former cultural attaché for Saudi Arabia in Paris who delivered a lecture, may have summed it up best. ”Meeting these young men and women was a source of hope. It was a beacon in the dark,” he said. “Their motivation is impressive, and they have an endless thirst for knowledge.”
Aramco Asia, through close coordination with the China Daily and the China Youth Development Foundation, recently implemented “Opening a Window to the World for Needy Ethnic Minority Children,” a youth program that brought 30 children from needy families in Yunnan province to Beijing.
During the youths’ stay in Beijing, a wide range of activities was designed to suit their interests — indoor and outdoor, science and arts, educational and recreational, traditional and modern. They visited the Juvenile & Children Reading Experience Wonderland and China Daily Headquarters, attended a live concert in the National Center for the Performing Arts, visited the Forbidden City, the National Stadium (Bird’s Nest), National Aquatic Center (Water Cube), and National Museum, attended a flag raising ceremony in Tian’anmen Square, and participated in a CCTV program filming.
Ibrahim Al-Buainain, president of Aramco Asia said: “We recognize the pivotal role of community engagement and have made significant progress in our citizenship strategy. It is our civic duty to help make the communities in which we operate better places to live and work.
“We strive to improve the environmental health and safety of these communities, enhance educational opportunities, increase economic viability, and promote energy sustainability through conservation and efficiency. CSR has formed an integrated part of everything we do,” Buainain added.
The program is the first of its kind to bring children of ethnic minorities from Yunnan to Beijing, demonstrating the commitment of Aramco Asia to education and learning. Beyond donations or any other forms of corporate philanthropy, it is an investment in knowledge, education, and community development that fosters the healthy well-being of children.
Protecting the environment is an integral part of what we value here at Saudi Aramco, and to show our commitment to these efforts, the company recently hosted an interactive exhibit focusing on water conservation.
The event, designed to encourage families to participate in programs and activities that instill strong environmental practices in conserving water, was held over five days at Al Arab Mall in Jiddah.
More than 8,000 people participated in the event, visiting the exhibit that comprised six interactive and display sections that provided information on ways to conserve water.
From Saudi Aramco, Nabil Nuaim, manager of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), and Mohammed Al Qahtani, manager of the Western Region Distribution Department, inaugurated the event.
In addition to EPD, numerous Saudi Aramco organizations and departments assisted in the event, in addition to the Ministry of Water and the National Water Company. They were joined by numerous volunteers, who all helped in making the event a success.
The Saudi Aramco Research & Development Center (R&DC) recently organized the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Saudi Arabian Section of the Combustion Institute. The meeting, held at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in Riyadh, brought together about 80 combustion scientists from research institutions in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.
The Role of Combustion Science
In a world where sustainability represents one of our greatest challenges, it is important to consider the role of combustion science. In general terms, combustion science relates to the study of systems that convert chemical energy into so-called work. And although we may not realize it, these devices play a central role in our everyday lives.
“The engines in our cars, along with the gas turbines that power commercial aircraft, are both examples of devices that convert the chemical energy within a fuel into work,” says Amer Amer, fuel chief technologist in the Saudi Aramco R&DC and chairman of the Saudi Arabian Section of the Combustion Institute. “Additionally, consider how often you use devices that rely on electricity generated in power stations, such as cell phones, computers, and kitchen appliances. All of these modern necessities have been made possible by combustion science.”
As a leading global exporter of energy, Saudi Arabia has a key role to play in the development of clean and efficient combustion systems. “The Saudi Arabian Section of the Combustion Institute is central to this objective, as it actively supports the development of the Kingdom’s young combustion scientists,” says professor Bill Roberts, director of the Clean Combustion Research Center at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and vice chairman of the Saudi Arabian Section of the Combustion Institute.
Largest Meeting Ever
The fifth annual meeting was the largest in the section’s history. In total, 36 researchers presented their findings at the meeting, with another 26 researchers participating in the work-in-progress poster session.
The Combustion Institute was founded in 1954 and serves as the parent organization for about 30 national sections worldwide. The local Saudi Arabian Section was founded in 2010 with about 30 members. Today, the section has more than 80 members.