The Multi-faceted Baida al Zadjali
The brilliant jeweller Marcel Tolkowsky set the gold standard a century ago, identifying the perfect cut to have 58 facets or faces. Omani Engineering and Project Manager Baida Al Zadjali exemplifies both the brilliant jeweller and his remarkable gemological masterpiece.
Tolkowsky was not just a craftsman, but he had to be a mathematician, engineer, geologist, designer, physicist, artist, and much more to determine that a diamond needed 58 perfectly proportioned facets to display the “fire, brilliance and scintillation of the diamond.”
Al Zadjali too is a woman of many facets as she champions her ‘cause celebre,’ the development of young Omani women, their personal and professional enrichment, to take advantage of the opportunities presenting themselves in the workplace.
Much has been chronicled of this remarkable young Omani, a woman of diversity who appreciates diversity in all its myriad of forms. Whether as a determined desert adventurer trekking the Empty Quarter, as the immaculately coiffured Project Manager in the ‘man’s world’ of a construction site, as a competitive triathlete, swimming, cycling, and running determinedly to the finish, and recently appointed the first Arab woman to be elected on the World Triathlon Women’s Committee, she is pushing boundaries too in sports administration’s global scene. Her ‘soft side’ also intense in her charitable intentions, her love of music, poetry, opera, art, and culture. A devout pet-lover with nineteen different pets, she fundraises, participates in a community trap-neuter-release program, and feeds many others.
So where has this intensity, this mélange come from, after all, Al Zadjali is just another daughter of the Sultanate, born like so many others in Khoula Hospital, one of two sisters in an extended family of five siblings. Her father’s appointment in the diplomatic service took the family to the United Kingdom for a time and a short international educational experience, before returning to complete her basic education in Qurum. Stellar assessment results saw the scholar and academic emerge, and she studied across the universities of Bath, Bristol, and Leeds in the UK to achieve a Bachelor’s in Engineering, a 2:1, and a Master’s with Distinction, in Engineering Project Management.
Like all students in the UK, Al Zadjali worked throughout the latter stages of her studies, in marketing, promotions, and later data entry for the Leeds City Council, before securing Junior Project Management assignments in Birmingham before returning to Oman where project management stints with Tebodin, Atkins, Omran, Iskan and Muscat Bay. “These whetted my appetite, and my first business was selling PPE as Riyam Muscat, and then I joined forces with my sister Noor, to start Meezah Project Management Consultancy in Construction and Cultural Projects, and that is where we are today,” she explained.
“I love what I do,” she said, “Being the boss doesn’t detract from being a woman and it is more about asserting yourself, if you need to, and staying authentic to who you are. I learn skills, gain knowledge, and develop existentially. No matter what anyone, man or woman decides to do, we should do our best, always challenge ourselves. Then whether we are taken seriously is not a question of gender, but excellence. The best of any society comes from bringing women and men together as equals, to achieve balanced objectives.”
“I am flattered to be a ‘role model’ for young Omanis, and especially young Omani women. I was so lucky that my parents shaped my life, and I grew up not seeing colour, nationality, or gender, I just see people. This diversity shaped my personality as a young child and again as a young adult where I learnt discipline, independence, and a Richard Branson inspired innovative attitude and managed to enhance that with all that is beautiful and good in our culture to hopefully be the best version of myself that I could be. I feel most fortunate to have had that opportunity,” she reflected.
This young entrepreneur then is a clarion call that being a young Omani woman is not at all about denial, but about seizing opportunities which may only be on offer for a moment, and that is true in every global environment, however, the Omani woman is a delicate creature, often placed on a pedestal within the family, community, and social environments. The onus is on us as individuals, to be aware of, to claim those moments, to seize those opportunities, and to become, in a touch of irony, masters of their own destiny.
This young Omani jewel, the many-faceted diamond that is Baida Al Zadjali, exhibits the diversity and determination of the current generation of movers and shakers in the Sultanate’s business sector. Women, strong, articulate, intelligent, distinctly feminine women, yet with an urgency that speaks to their determination to not be constrained by societal norms and cultural attitudes to women in the workplace, inspiring thousands of other young Omani women just like them, to be all they can be.