Hayat Sindi, a nanotechnologist and biotechnology entrepreneur from Saudi Arabia, has become the first Arab woman invited to the newly formed UN Scientific Advisory Board. She joins two other Middle Eastern scientists appointed to the board, Nobel laureate Ahmed Zewail from Egypt and Abdullah Daar, a professor of public health at the University of Toronto originally from Oman.
The 26-member board has scientists from all over the world who represent natural, social and human sciences and engineering to provide advice on science, technology and innovation (STI) for sustainable development to the UN. “It brings together scientists of international stature, and will serve as a global reference point to improve links between science and public policies,” said UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova in a press statement.
Last year, Sindi was elected to be the first Saudi to become a UN goodwill ambassador to support science education, specially inspiring more girls to enroll in science subjects. Besides her work with the UN, Sindi is also a well-known speaker on entrepreneurship and has been vocal in her home country to promote education for girls. Born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, she was the first Saudi woman to receive a PhD in biotechnology from Cambridge University.
She is the co-founder and director of Diagnostics for All, a non-profit institution that aims to create low-cost easy-to-use diagnostics tools for developing markets. Earlier this year, she also set up the ‘i2nstitute for Innovation and Ingenuity’ to promote entrepreneurship for young scientists in the Middle East.