Meet Saudi Arabia’s first blind female lawyer

Leila al-Qobbi, who at times was denied career opportunities for disability, has now become Saudi Arabia’s first blind female lawyer

Shounaz Meky - Al Arabiya English
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Leila al-Qobbi, who at times was denied career opportunities for disability, has now become Saudi Arabia’s first blind female lawyer.

The 24-year-old overcame challenges to become the first blind lawyer among Saudi Arabia’s 102 female lawyers.

Being a practicing lawyer with special abilities, Qobbi believes she’s not any different from her peers with sight. The challenge of not being able to see was never felt as a drawback, she said.

“I practise this profession like any other person,” she told Al Arabiya English. “My disability has never been a reason for defeat.”

Al-Qobbi pursued her studies at King Abdulaziz University after high school. She reads by listening or through braille, a tactile writing system for the blind.

“I read using Braille, audio books and write with Braille Sense, then download the file on a USB and connect it to the laptop for typing.”

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She says there are a few challenges with practical training that Saudi society needs to overcome to help people like her with visual impairment to achieve their full potential.

Some of the equipment designed to help the visually impaired e read and type are too expensive, she says, adding that some of it may cost up to 25,000 Saudi riyals ($6,665).

In her case, she does not own the equipment and tries to borrow them.

“Hopefully, God will make it easy one day and I will have all the equipment I need.”

At times, al-Qobbi was denied training at several law firms “for being blind.”

“The society is still shocked at how a blind person can be a successful lawyer.”

She said she felt grateful towards the Saudi justice ministry and the firm that offered her training, giving her the opportunity to achieve her goal.

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She was handed a financial lawsuit as her first case, unlike majority of Saudi female lawyers who usually plead in personal status lawsuits.

“I have too much faith in God that He will never fail me. I wasn’t expecting to get the practising lawyer’s license. I’m very optimistic now in pursuing my dreams.”

“I want every person with ambition to believe in themselves and never retreat.”

Saudi Arabia has 102 female lawyers. This year alone, the government has granted 39 women the licenses to practise law, the largest number the ministry has given in one year.

The country began granting licenses to women to practise law in 2012 but the decision was not implemented until June 2013, when lawyer Bayan Zahran received her license, becoming the first Saudi female lawyer.

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