Shihana Alazzaz: A Trailblazer for Female Lawyers in Saudi Arabia, and Beyond

Shihana Alazzaz is one of the first women licensed to practice law in Saudi Arabia. She is now sharing her passion by mentoring other young women in her field in Saudi Arabia—and around the world

Her road to success has been a long one, with tests of courage early in life.

Born and raised in Riyadh, she found herself arguing for her own inheritance rights in court at the age of 16, spurring her to study law in the United Kingdom.

In 2008, Alazzaz graduated with an Honors LLB degree and received further training in Dubai and Kuwait before accepting a job at a practice in New York. There, she provided legal advice on topics including defense, aviation, telecommunications, healthcare and securities.

In 2012, the Saudi Ministry of Justice changed regulations regarding the right of women to practice law, opening a slew of opportunities for women not just in the legal profession but across the workforce. This prompted Alazzaz to return to Saudi Arabia to obtain her law license, and she quickly earned a position in an elite law firm in Riyadh. Since then, she has worked her way up to serving as the Head of Transactions at the Public Investment Fund in Riyadh.

Paying It Forward

Alazzaz attributes her success to fearlessness and, because of her experiences, has dedicated efforts to mentoring other young women with ambitious talent

As the first woman at her firm in Riyadh and part of the first wave of women practicing law in the Kingdom, she started an internship program to recruit talented young female law students. Alazzaz was also integral in the creation and management of Tomouh, an organization dedicated to fostering the careers of young professionals in the Gulf region.

She is a regular speaker at the University of Colorado’s Annual Conference on World Affairs, and was the keynote speaker at the first German-Middle East Young Professionals Conference in Berlin. Most recently, the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts at the Western New England University School of Law hosted her for a talk about her experience as “A Saudi Woman in the Corner Office.”

While in law school, she served as a Saudi representative in the U.S. Middle East Partnership Initiative, and later participated in the State Department’s International Visitors Program on Saudi Women in Law.

Read more at World Affairs Council.