Aiyah Saihati - Entrepreneur and Businesswoman
Aiyah Saihati, a native of Saudi Arabia, is an businesswoman and intellectual who has gained an international reputation for her multi-dimensional expertise in a number of sectors. She is an expert in business policy and business strategy as well as an advocate for the inclusion of women in business and political leadership throughout the MENA region. Her writing, speaking engagements and lectures around the world encourage pluralism, cross-cultural and inter-faith understanding that includes jurisprudence, women's issues and education. As a successful young entrepreneur, she designed and produced a range of sophisticated and elegant luxury goods that have been well received in international markets.
High End Designer
While studying architectural engineering, Aiyah Saihati worked in an upscale art gallery where she fell in love with art and design and became closely acquainted with works by such artists as Picasso, Renoir and Rizzi. She apprenticed with Warren Edwards, the famous shoe designer to celebrities, for one year and, after understanding her own unique ability to develop high-end designs, she set out on her own. She began by creating her own designs and “functional art” collections, which were exhibited in New York galleries, such as the Stendhal Gallery in SoHo. She became known as “The Designer's Designer”. She designs and produces shoes that are meant to be comfortable yet extremely modern and stylish while at the same time reflecting a delicate sense of harmony between femininity and strength. Her designs are very elegant but also convey a bit of light-hearted humour. Her Bat collection, for instance, is inspired by works of pop artists Andy Warhol and Lichtenstein as well as comic book characters Batman, Wonderwoman, and Spiderman. They have been very well received around the globe and have been the subject of articles in fashion and design magazines.
International Speaker and Writer on Middle East Events
Aiyah Saihati is a welcome guest speaker at important forums and conferences around the world that encompass the US Congress, leading educational institutions and influential think tanks. As an expert, she recently spoke at the Wharton Business School MENA Conference on the new business and social opportunities that women are able to enter into in Saudi Arabia in light of a post-revolution Arab world. Along the subject of women in the Middle East, she wrote an article demanding policy reform in Saudi Arabia following the harsh treatment of a woman who was the victim of a brutal rape attack. That article sent waves across the world as it was translated and published in eleven languages. She was also a panelist at the Heritage Foundation, where she discussed the both the institutional stagnation and positive changes impacting women in Saudi Arabia.
Hobbies and Interests
As an avid chess player herself, Aiyah Saihati founded and serves as the Interim Executive Director for the Saudi Chess Federation and she is president of the MENA Chess Foundation, which she also founded. In both organisations, she promotes chess as a form of active mental gymnastics. She is also the co-director at The Soccer Mansion and she founded the Entrepreneurship Action Council in order to help stimulate Saudi Arabia's entrepreneurial culture.