Saudi student Reham Mohamed Aleid came to Qatar in 2003 to study at VCUQatar. In 2004, she was one of the first students to join the exchange program to study at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond and shortly thereafter she transferred to Richmond, becoming the first transfer student from VCUQatar.
The eldest of four children, this only girl soon had her whole family – businessman dad, organic chemist mom and three younger brothers – join her in Richmond, where her brothers are still pursuing their studies, and her mother, who has a PhD in organic chemistry works in the Chemistry Department at VCU.
Ms Aleid pursued her BFA in Interior Design at VCU Richmond and used the opportunity to freelance as assistant interior designer to Saudi-based AlEid group, a family-owned business, from 2005 to 2009. She feels her stay in the US affected her in many positive ways, “changed my perspective in life, gave me a chance to pursue my goals and added immeasurable value to ‘me’ through the years,” she says. “I found the US to be a place that empowers you, fills you with confidence and self-esteem to create a still ground where dreams can grow.”
After graduating Cum Laude in 2007 among the top 10% at VCU, she went on to do a double Masters in Architecture and Planning and Urban Design from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. She worked at Barr International Architects in Washington, D.C. as an architect and interior designer during her studies. She graduated in May 2010 and returned to Qatar a month later to be hired immediately as an architect with Arab Engineering Bureau, one of top 15 ranked firms in the gulf region, for her unique fit as a local with a background in three majors.
Ms Aleid presently works with Q.Media as a Project Manager Architect, managing their new buildings and branches. She is also working with their infrastructure department on an Urban Design project for the city of Doha. “Each day I go to work I want to make a difference. Being here is just another step in ‘building myself’ towards the next level, a Ph.D.,” says the budding designer whose future plans also include teaching at VCUQatar to build an academic portfolio for future positions.
“Of the many fascinating facets of Arabian culture revealed to the world, none is more interesting than Arabian art,” she says elaborating on why she chose to study design and become an architect. “Fresh students, designers, artists, should be ready to bear all the difficulties and opposition in order to continue what history has started and prove that we are able to build a better future. We have to be a turning point and take the first steps towards a better tomorrow. Taking the shortest road from point A to point B is not always the best decision one can make, success is a journey, not a destination,” is the advice she’d like to give to aspiring designers who hope, like her, to make their mark in the region.