Nora Altwaijri has a passion for using technology to empower young people to make a positive impact in their communities.
*The Samsung Global Goals app is available to download on Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets with Android 9 or later, and Galaxy Watch with Wear OS 4 or later, in select markets.
Nora Altwaijri is a member of Generation17, a partnership between Samsung and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), empowering young people around the world who are contributing to the Global Goals.
Nora Altwaijri thinks a lot about the future of Saudi Arabia, a future in which sustainability is part of everyday life. She has an unwavering belief that her country — and the world — will get there, especially because of the passion and energy of her generation.
“Young people have a fresh eye for today’s challenges,” says the 25-year-old, who studied software engineering and now works in management consulting. “They’re more eager than ever to create positive impact and have loads of creative energy just waiting to be unleashed.”
Nora mentors other young leaders who are hoping to make a difference in their communities.
Growing up in Riyadh, the Middle Eastern country’s vibrant capital city, Nora was inspired by Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 — an ambitious national strategy aimed at economic and social reform that set her on a path of developing her leadership skills and engaging in community service. She saw many tech-savvy young people who, like herself, wanted to contribute to this vision, but lacked the appropriate resources and confidence to make a tangible impact. Nora realized she could help her generation overcome these obstacles and be a part of something transformative. “I’m proud to be part of a nation that keeps doing very challenging and cool projects,” she says. “I know I can bring my own ideas, and I will get support for them.”
A family friend introduced Nora to the tech industry as a teen, and something clicked. “I felt my learning journey would never end in technology,” she recalls. “It taught me how to take a more systematic approach to innovative ideas.”
She soon realized that software engineering could provide the digital tools and problem-solving skills to support her passion for helping communities and the planet. And, with two-thirds of Saudi Arabia’s population under the age of 35, Nora knew she could make a difference by empowering this new generation of changemakers through technology.
In college, Nora joined a nonprofit-led youth leadership program which introduced her to the Global Goals. To better understand how to support them, her team surveyed 600 local young people. The results shocked her: Without knowing it, many were already contributing to the Goals by donating clothes, food, and time to causes they care about. “We realized there is a lot of energy being spent, but it’s not being efficiently harnessed or directed,” Nora says. “The Goals are literally telling you exactly what you need to do to save our planet. Why not just match everything together?”
Nora is passionate about using technology to spread awareness of the Global Goals and inspire change.
Leaning into her passion for technology, she decided to meet youth where they are: online. “Young people these days are so reliant on digital technology to communicate ideas and engage with others,” she says. “It’s a super powerful tool that enables you to create whatever idea you want and bring people together to make it happen.”
Nora’s brainchild was the Sustainable University Initiative, a website where students can learn about the Global Goals and team up on solutions, such as planting trees or cleaning a local beach. She collaborated with like-minded peers on the platform, where universities compete against one another, earning points for ideas that have a tangible impact. The school with the highest score will be crowned that year’s winner. That added layer of involvement by universities, not just students, is crucial to encouraging participation and raising the program’s profile. “I want to connect the global community and universities around the world,” she says. “That wouldn't be possible without technology.”
To bring her initiative to life, Nora doubled down on networking and used social media to find mentors and secure partner organizations who believed in her youth-led mission, such as UNDP. She is currently working to pilot the digital platform in Saudi Arabia with hopes of expanding internationally.
On the Sustainable University Initiative website, students collaborate on solutions to the Global Goals and schools compete to generate the most impact.
Nora poses with young leaders from Mutalaf during the organization’s week-long training Riyadh.
Nora’s community of leaders is already making an impact, from a recycling program to a self-development podcast for teens. Other youth-led solutions include teaching orphans to code and providing training and internship opportunities to help young people pursue careers in cybersecurity.
With each initiative, Nora aims to open possibilities for others, inspire hope for the future, and help young people follow their passion to change the world. “If we utilize the energy of my generation to create impact,” she says, “we’ll be able to achieve a greater purpose for all — you will see magic.”
December 9, 2022
Meet the Generation17 Young Leaders: The Story of Tamara Gondo
November 14, 2022
Meet the Generation17 Young Leaders: The Story of AY Young
October 24, 2022
Meet the Generation17 Young Leaders: The Story of Kristian Kampmann
October 18, 2022
Meet the Generation17 Young Leaders: The Story of Oğuz Ergen