About Aiyah Saihati
Aiyah Saihati, international entrepreneur and intellectual, is the founder and president of Saihati International. She is an outspoken proponent of women's rights and economic empowerment in her native Saudi Arabia and works extensively in the areas of cross-cultural understanding and pluralism throughout the world. Her work bridges the business, legal and non-profit sectors and she is a well-known speaker at conferences and conventions on the subjects of entrepreneurship, current and historical events in Saudi Arabia, and the status of women in the Middle East. An open letter that she published after the harsh sentencing of a Saudi rape victim was translated into eleven different languages as it was spread throughout the international press. She also speaks at international conferences and prestigious forums such as the Congress of the United States, prominent educational institutions that include the Dubai School of Government, Wharton Business School and Georgetown University as well as leading think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. As a successful Saudi businesswoman, she has also made her mark as an international luxury goods designer.
Designer for the Designers
Following her studies in Saudi Arabia, Aiyah Saihati continued her education in the United States and Europe. Her career direction took a turn towards modern art when she held a position at an art gallery and began to appreciate works of Renoir, Picasso, and Rizzi. She apprenticed with Warren Edwards, who was known to be the shoe designer to the stars in the 80's where she assisted with designing customized special order luxury goods for his famous clientele and at the age of 21 she began her first business. She developed several “Functional Art” collections and exhibited them in prestigious New York galleries in SoHo, such as Stendhal Gallery. She soon gained the reputation of being called “The Designers' Designer” as her avant guard style and accurate forecasting of future trends in international markets made her designs and products at the cutting edge. Today, she is especially known for her line of elegant footwear. One of her lines, The Bat Collection, was inspired by Andy Warhol's pop art as well as comic book heroes such as Batman and Batwoman. Her approach to design is that styles should be fun and energetic but inspire feminism and delicacy. Through each item she creates, she aims to capture a certain feminine mood that is balanced with grace and attractiveness as well as taking into account comfort and fit. After she opened her own business, she continued her executive studies at the European Institute of Business Administration, INSEAD. She then expanded her activities in creating and directing multinational companies and non-profit organisations throughout the world.
Renowned Speaker Regarding Middle East Issues
As a guest panelist at a recent Wharton Business School MENA conference, Aiyah Saihati spoke on new opportunities available to women in these post-revolution days of the Arab world. She emphasized women breaking through the social, economic barriers to assume leadership positions in the MENA region. When invited to appear at the Congress of the United States she spoke about the dynamics of Saudi Arabia's links with the global community.
Positions, Passions and Hobbies
Aiyah Saihati is the co director of The Soccer Mansion, the founder and Chairperson at the Entrepreneurship Action Council, the founder and Interim Executive Director of the Saudi Chess Federation, the founder and president of the MENA Chess Foundation. As well as being serious chess enthusiast, she also enjoys tango, theater, music and rock climbing.
Aiyah Saihati Radio Interview