RIYADH, 11 January 2004 — A Saudi woman doctor has been named a visiting professor at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in the United States.

Dr. Selwa A.F. Al-Hazzaa, head of the ophthalmology department at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, will become the first Middle Easterner to travel to the US several times in an academic year to deliver lectures.

Dr. Selwa is also a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) in Edinburgh. In addition to her medical responsibilities, she is also an official adviser to the Shoura Council.

In an interview with Arab News, Dr. Selwa acknowledges that she is an exception in a male-dominated society. The American-educated specialist is pleased at “how much has changed in the Kingdom in a little more than 40 years since girls began going to schools.” She plans to set up a joint research program between KFSH and Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Selwa is delighted that the Saudi government is now paying more attention to women’s social problems. “We women have accomplished a great deal in the Kingdom,” she said.

She also plans to deliver an address dealing with “Women’s Empowerment” with special reference to Saudi Arabia at the Jeddah Economic Forum next week. “Look at how the Kingdom has changed in just 40 years. My mother was illiterate; she never went to school. And here I am, the very next generation, a full-fledged professor.”

Concerning her participation in the Shoura, Dr. Selwa explained that women do not attend the sessions with male members but sit in another room. “The men take our advice and they act on the basis of it.”

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