H.E. Thoraya Ahmed Obaid
Presently, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid is a member of the Board of the Center for Strategic Development, a governmental think-tank.
She is also active in the non-governmental sector, for example Chairing the King Khalid Award Committee for Partners in Development. Internationally, she is a member of the Board of the Kofi Annan Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland.
Thoraya Obaid was among the first group of 30 women appointed to Saudi Arabia’s Majlis Ash-Shura (Consultative Council) for a four-year term (2013 – 2016).
In May 2013, she received the King Abdulaziz Medal of the First Degree bestowed upon her by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.
In June 2015, Thoraya Obaid received the United Nations Population Award for her work to promote development and human rights through a culturally sensitive approach, working within the context of each society, and taking into consideration local cultural values and religious beliefs.
In 2011, she was the first Muslim to receive an award from the Union Theological Seminary in New York for her contribution to the interaction among civilizations and religions.
Thoraya Obaid has a 35 year-long career at the United Nations from 1975 to 2010, beginning with women and development to population and social affairs. She worked at the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) from 1975 to 1998, where she rose to the rank of Deputy Executive Secretary. In 1998, she moved to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Headquarter in New York, as Director of the Division for Arab States and Europe, until 2001, when she assumed the Executive Director post, at the Under-Secretary-General level.
Thoraya Obaid was the first Saudi woman to receive a government scholarship in February 1963 to a university in the United States. She has a doctorate degree in English Literature as a major and Cultural Anthropology as a minor from Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.