Sara Al Saadi provides model for Qatar’s media students

Doha, QatarJune 3, 2012 – Sara Al Saadi graduated from Northwestern University in Qatar with a degree in Communications last month, and is proving a role model for young Qataris pursuing media studies at home or abroad.

Al Saadi was singled out among more than 300 peers for academic excellence and student leadership this May, as winner of the prestigious Hamad Bin Khalifa University President’s Award. She and fellow NU-Q student Zainab Sultan were two of only six recipients this year.

From serving as president of NU-Q’s student government for two years and completing a semester abroad at Harvard University, to documenting local social issues in short films and volunteering at international law conferences in Qatar, Al Saadi has made the most of her four years at university.

“I offer my warm congratulations to Sara for being such an outstanding student and demonstrating her commitment to making a difference both on campus and within the wider community; we are very proud of her and the other winners of the President’s Award,” said His Excellency Sheikh Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, Ph.D., President of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), who presented the awards on May 8 at HBKU’s Convocation 2012.

All nominees for the President’s Award– 18 students from across HBKU’s partner universities were recommended for the award by their deans this year–must have achieved a 3.6 overall Grade Point Average or higher and engaged in extracurricular activities that served both their university and HBKU.

“These students are our future leaders and will play a major role in Qatar’s transformation into a knowledge-based society,” added Dr. Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, who is also Vice President for Education at Qatar Foundation.

As an undergraduate in NU-Q’s Communication program, Al Saadi conducted documentary work and research that dealt with a range of topics spanning from identity struggle in Qatar and the Arab world’s engagement to international law.

In her most recent project, Al Saadi produced a 10-minute documentary with classmates Maaria Assami and Latifa Al-Darwish about Qatari boys in public school as they deal with a perceived urban-Bedouin divide.  The film captures 10-year olds in one local primary school taunting boys who are not Bedouin, in a reversal of the typical struggle between tradition and modernity.

“Through the story of these young school boys, we are able to raise contemporary social issues that are facing the broader Qatari community in a form that the average person can digest, and in a way that is not confrontational or critical,” said Al Saadi.

“Sara is an exemplary Northwestern graduate; well-rounded in liberal arts and equipped with media and leadership skills that give her the potential to make a profound contribution to society.  We are honored that she has been recognized by HBKU for her outstanding academic and personal qualities, and we look forward to seeing her make a positive impact for Qatar in her future career,” commented Everette Dennis, dean and CEO of Northwestern University in Qatar.

Dean Dennis noted that Al Saadi had also been awarded the NU-Q Student Leadership Award by Northwestern University’s President Morton Schapiro last week for her work as student government president, which included helping to establish and run the school’s Media Awards and “Go Wild” spirit week.

Having graduated from NU-Q on May 9, Al Saadi plans to complement her Bachelor of Science in communication with a graduate degree in law.  Her semester abroad at Harvard University –where she studied government, logic and Islamic law –was part of Al Saadi’s efforts to combine her media education with legal studies.

After traveling and studying around the globe, Al Saadi intends to pursue her professional work here at home. “I want to give back to my country that has given me so much,” she said, adding, “I think there is a strong need in Qatar for young people with knowledge in media to help our country navigate the changes we’re experiencing as Qatar’s profile rises on the regional and international stage.”

“With degrees in both media and law, I think I can make a greater contribution to Qatar in helping to mediate some of the current barriers to practicing media here and to continue developing the country’s media industry in general,” she concluded.

Al Saadi is currently working in communications at a Qatar-based business, while also volunteering at local law conferences, such as the Qatar Law Forum held earlier this month, and applying to graduate law programs.  Later this May, she presented her Harvard research paper on shifting Arab perspectives on the International Criminal Court at the First Undergraduate Conference on Middle Eastern Studies at Georgetown University last weekend.