What is this combination, whose elements all come together in one woman? She was born in Cairo, but she is a Saudi. Her father was Saudi Arabia’s most famous oil minister; her mother is Iraqi, so she grew up in Basra. Her collected social and human experience comes from a life of moving, between Cairo, Jeddah, Baghdad and London.
So what is the sum of this diversity? Dr Mai Zaki Yamani was born in 1956 at the outbreak of the Suez War and at the height of pan-Arabism. She is one of the most prominent specialists in Arab and Saudi affairs and the effects of globalisation on Arabs.
She is now the talk of publishers throughout the world, after her book Cradle of Islam was published.
Dr Mai Yamani works as a senior researcher at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. She obtained her doctorate at Oxford University.
Dr Mai Yamani, who possesses a huge amount of courage, works on human, political and social rights. She is a research associate at the Centre of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law at SOAS University of London and an academic advisor at Georgetown University. Before her doctorate at Oxford, she was a lecturer at King Abdul Aziz University.
In addition to her book Cradle of Islam, she published Changed Identities: The Challenge of the New Generation in Saudi Arabia, Feminism and Islam and The Rule of Law in the Middle East and the Islamic World.
In an intensely conservative and traditional environment, it would be challenging for a woman to free her mind and to express her academic vision. In a liberal environment, the knowledgeable mind can serve their society of origin.
Beset by thorns and mines, Mai Yamani possessed enough courage and awareness to overcome the obstacles in her path. For this and much more, she receives our respect and recognition and we therefore award her the Medal of Respect.