About Thuraya

Thuraya Ismail is a Saudi Eisenhower Fellow, human and social development expert, youth empowerment specialist, and an art advocate. Born in Saudi Arabia, she grew up in a highly educated family, where her father was a renowned physician in Riyadh. Thuraya studied political science at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and completed her graduate studies in international affairs at the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2002. She is a certified human development specialist through the Virtual Development Academy program by UNDP in affiliation with Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs. Additionally, she is a certified ISO 9001:2000 Lead Auditor by the British Standards Institution (BSI) – UK.

Being a strong believer that investing in youth is the main source for sustainable human development; soon after her graduation; Thuraya embarked on a career aimed at improving the well-being of young Arabs through mentoring, education, art, and innovation.

Years Experience
Events Hosted
International Awards

As a Board Member and Chief Executive Officer of Mentor Arabia Foundation, and previous senior officer at the UNDP Saudi Arabia, she has developed a profound experience in management, strategic planning, partnership building, fundraising, team formulation and leadership, advocacy, and of course, youth mentoring. Throughout her career, she has worked with Royal and public figures, officials, corporate entities, NGOs, regional and international organizations, media, and academic institutions. Under her guidance, Mentor Arabia has expanded horizontally and vertically across the region, with operations in twelve Arab countries. It has also increased its network of strategic partners, now up to 90++, and a roaster of experts crossing the 100 benchmark; as well as raised millions of dollars, and implemented tens of programs and initiatives reaching 1.5M++ beneficiaries.

As a passionate supporter of children and youth and a strong believer in the value of art and technology in addressing social and humanitarian issues, Thuraya has leveraged creativity and innovation in various regional initiatives; such as the “Youth Empowerment Films and Songs Competition” and the “Youth Social Entrepreneurs Award” reaching more than 3M users.

Furthermore, she sits on various esteemed boards like “Egypt Entrepreneurs Award” and “Takreem Award”. Moreover, she the first Arab to win the “Leading Practitioner Honor” award from the “European Union Society for Research”, and was selected as one of the top 25 women leaders across the globe to join the esteemed “Eisenhower Fellowship” advocating for world peace and prosperity. On the art scene, she was appointed as the Ambassador of “El Gouna Film Festival for Humanity” in 2018, head of Jury for the “Beirut International Women Film Festival”, and a Jury member in the United Nations’ global “Plural+ Youth Video Festival”.

Eisenhower Fellow

Thuraya was selected in 2020 as one of the top 25 women leaders across the globe to join the esteemed “Eisenhower Fellowship” and become part of this prestigious leadership network advocating for world peace.

Social Development Expert

As a passionate supporter of youth empowerment, Thuraya has leveraged art in various activation initiatives such as the regional “Youth Empowerment Competition Films and Songs” and the “Youth Social Entrepreneurs Award” reaching 3M users.

Art Advocate

Ismail believes art can be an important medium to address humanitarian and social development issues. As a strong supporter of arts, she was appointed Ambassador of “El Gouna Film Festival for Humanity”; Head of the Short Films Jury for the “Beirut International Women Film Festival”; and a Jury Member in the UNAOC and IOM’s global “Plural+ Youth Video Festival”.

Eisenhower Fellow, Women Leaders Fellowship Program, USA

Advisory Board Member, Egypt

Ambassador 2018, Egypt

Board Member & Chief Executive Officer, Arab Region

Ambassador of Art D’Egypte to Lebanon and KSA

Leader European Practitioner Honor Award, Portugal

Youth Video Festival, Jury Member, USA

Jury Member, Arab region

Lead Auditor, the British Standards Institution (BSI), UK

Head of Short Films Jury, Arab Region

What People Say

Thuraya has demonstrated critical as well a high managerial skills that would make her a valuable asset to any organization. To name a few, she possesses excellent written and verbal communication skills which, coupled with her overall effectiveness, professionalism, hard work, and great rapport with the many constituents, colleagues, subordinates and other professional organizations, she comes across, would only allow for a glowing testimonial.

Samer Khoury Chairman, Consolidated Contractors Group CCC, Greece

Thuraya has a kind, easy-going demeanor that makes her approachable to others. She is quite knowledgeable and as soon as she speaks, her abilities command the attention and the respect of others. She never shies away from difficult endeavors. Her best qualities appear when she deals with others, she shows great kindness and a determined effort in helping each one to produce at the best possible level. It gives me great pleasure to consider her a friend.

Dr. Farouk El-Baz Director Emeritus, Center for Remote Sensing BU, U.S.A

I first met Thuraya as an 18-year-old Freshman at AUB. She was truly a lion in a canary’s cage—a trait that has accompanied her ever since. She was determined to shatter the glass ceiling looming over the head of all women throughout the Levant. Nothing stuck to Thuraya—no setback, no obstacle, no defeat. Nothing dissuaded her from her mission or pulled her back. She has reaped nothing but success, constantly moving onward, upward, and forward.

DR. SAMI MOUBAYED 2023 Durham University Fellow and founding chairman of the Damascus History Foundation

Thuraya is a highly professional individual, her leadership is characterized by strategic focus as well as execution and good team management. She has a very strong capacity to get the organization to prioritize, focus and deliver excellent results. Under her leadership Mentor Arabia has achieved excellent progress and results. It is very inspiring to work with her.

Yvonne Thunell Former Chairperson, Mentor International, Sweden