Kariman Abuljadayel: An identity beyond borders

Kariman Abuljadayel: An identity beyond borders

On National Day, Saudis abroad share their boundless love for their country and the ways they keep its spirit alive far away from home
18 September 23
Kariman Abuljadayel

September 23, a day when patriotism knows no bounds, the air is electric with our shared heritage, and a tapestry of traditions weaves a sense of unity.

The depth of belonging we feel on Saudi National Day is profound, with annual celebrations cementing our identity – even across oceans and continents.

This year, we sat down with two Saudis living abroad, to reflect on what it means to be from this Kingdom, how the spirit of being Saudi defies physical distances, how they recreate National Day festivities, and to hear their inspiring away-from-home stories.

Read Abdulrahman Hamdi's reflection here.

Kariman Abuljadayel

Architect, rower and 1st Saudi female Olympic sprinter

Location: Stockholm, Sweden

The Journey

Kariman’s primary motive for travelling was education, which saw her leaving Saudi in pursuit of a bachelor’s and master’s degree in architecture from Northeastern University in Boston. She also earned a second master’s degree in the History of Art and Architecture of the Islamic Middle East from SOAS University of London.

Beyond academic pursuits, Kariman nurtured a passion for sports, leading her to travel frequently for training camps and competitions. Fuelled by her enthusiasm for sports, Kariman eventually etched her name in history as the first woman from the Kingdom to participate in the Women’s 100 meters event at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016.

“Living in a different country has given me a broader lens to view Saudi culture and values, highlighting their significance and inspiring me to cherish and appreciate them even more," she says.

Challenging Misconceptions

“I always make it a point to approach my travel decisions meticulously, whether for educational pursuits or training endeavours,” she says.

By thoroughly researching destinations and accommodations prior to her travels, Kariman is able to avoid perpetuating misunderstandings about Saudi and its people. “When I carefully select where I go and stay, I tend to encounter individuals who have a higher level of understanding, which minimizes the chances of misconceptions arising.”

The Pride of Being Saudi

The opportunity to represent her country and proudly wave its flag on the

global stage gives Kariman a sensation that justifies all her years of dedicated training.

“ThehonourofrepresentingSaudiArabia in significant global competitions, such as the Olympic Games, fills me with immense joy,” she explains.

Celebrating Away From Home

Kariman recalls a memorable moment on a flight with her family to New York on Saudi National Day. During the flight, the Saudia airlines crew distributed green scarves to commemorate the occasion.

“Upon landing and checking into the Baccarat Hotel, the staff warmly welcomed us with a lovely display of green macaroons arranged in a tower, and elegantly drawn palm trees and crossed swords on the plates.”

Kariman and her family also made sure to include touches of green in their outfits. “The atmosphere was filled with joy, as everyone joined the celebration. It’s remarkable how such gestures make the day even more exceptional and significant.”

Lessons Learned

“Traveling around the world has granted me the opportunity to acquaint myself with diverse human behaviours and patterns.”

Through this understanding, Kariman has come to realise that differences among people are not as vast as she once thought. She believes bridging the divides between people from different backgrounds is not as daunting, especially when guided by the principles of ethics and our shared humanity.