By Shelly Kapoor Collins
SAN JOSE (Talk Media News) –Female entrepreneurship is surging globally. Yet there are areas of the world where aspiring businesswomen are prevented from realizing their economic potential because of barriers to entry rooted in prohibitive cultural norms. More often than not, countries in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) are quickly classified as inhibitors of women’s progress. But, the heart of the MENA region, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is paving a different path of progress for women and one man in particular is working hard to shift the narrative from the unequivocal “no” to a resounding “yes” when it comes to women’s empowerment. His Royal Highness Prince Fahad Al Saud, social entrepreneur and CEO of NA3M Games, has made it his mission to advocate for equality through Technology by launching a gaming platform that champions, fosters, and celebrates Arab identity with a focus on empowering women and girls.
As an Arab man, and one of privilege by birthright, Prince Fahad has a myriad of opportunities available to him and which he can pursue. When asked about his motivation behind launching NA3M Games to help women shatter the glass wall in Saudi Arabia, indeed globally, he explained, “This is my responsibility. As someone who was raised by strong women, I want to represent them through the work that I do. I have a mother, sister and female cousins and it is my responsibility to utilize my blessings for those who don’t have a voice.”
“For the first time, men and women are equal in Saudi Arabia…”
A preliminary survey conducted by Sana Odeh, clinical professor of computer science at New York University, found that in the Middle East, 30-70% of the enrollees in computer science programs were women across seven universities including in Saudi Arabia. And, as Prince Fahad explained, “there are 35% more female Tech entrepreneurs in the MENA region as compared to globally.”
Something in a name
Having studied Engineering at Stanford University, Prince Fahad worked at Facebook as Head of User Operations where he was instrumental in launching the Arabic version of the site before launching NA3M Games. But, there are other notable influences on Prince Fahad’s pioneering efforts to attain equality for women in his country and globally and from which he draws inspiration. “NA3M (pronounced NAAM) means “yes” in Arabic . “Yes” is a word we don’t really hear a lot. We hear “no” or “you can’t”. So our name means “Yes We Can” or “NAAM We Can”, Prince Fahad told New Media News.
From his mother’s education which gave Prince Fahad a full understanding of the world at an early age, to his grandmother’s leadership who took on her father’s responsibilities by commanding her own tribe, Prince Fahad hails from generations of female role models who embody public service.
With this understanding from an early age of what Saudi women are supposed to look and act like, Prince Fahad defines the success of NA3M Games by his and his team’s ability to “empower women through Technology driven tools which allow them to reach and connect with the outside world and shine the spotlight on their efforts.”
Diversity and inclusion in the Tech industry will not happen by accident and must be purposely nurtured. It will take more than talk and it will also take the involvement of both male and female champions in elevating this very important cause. LISTEN to the podcast to hear how you can get involved in Prince Fahad’s global social movement because without women in Technology, there is no equality.
Follow NA3M Games on Twitter @NA3MGames and on Instagram @NewArabMedia
Shelly Kapoor Collins is TMN’s Silicon Valley Bureau Chief overseeing its emerging coverage of the Tech world.