Dr. Mariam Saleh Binladen is a young Saudi humanitarian who has devoted her life in support of Syrian Refugees and to shed light on what is considered to be the biggest catastrophe of our time. A dentist by profession, Dr. Mariam is also a certified endurance swimmer, who has taken part in major international competitions and initiated her own international events, in support of her cause.
Dr. Mariam’s humanitarian journey with the Syrian refugees began in 2015, when the crisis escalated gigantically, to become the world’s biggest humanitarian challenge ever. Not many people around the world were aware of the magnitude of the crisis and for Dr. Mariam, it was more of a call to action so the world take notice of this tragedy. It was that same year that saw Dr. Mariam take part in her first international event – the Hellespont Open Water Competition in Turkey. And a great start it was indeed. At the competition, Dr. Mariam achieved her first record as the first Saudi female to complete the race, from Europe to Asia. And that was just the beginning.
The following year, in June 2016, Dr. Mariam broke another record to become the first female ever to swim the entire length of the River Thames in London – a distance of 101 miles, which she completed in 11 days. Two months later, Dr. Mariam achieved yet another record of becoming the first Saudi woman to complete an assisted swim of 21 miles across the English Channel, which she concluded in 10 hours. The challenge itself was always met with more determination and perseverance from Dr. Mariam’s side, and it was the time where more and more people started noticing Dr. Mariam and began rallying around her cause.
In December 2016, Dr. Mariam inaugurated her first dental center at the IMC Hospital site in Al Azraq Refugee camp in Jordan. The camp is home to over 55,000 refugees, and “Dr. Mariam’s Dental Center” was a joint collaboration between the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO) and IMC Hospital, to provide dental and oral care – all cost-free. It is fully equipped with the latest technology and operated by professional dentists provided by IMC Hospital. The opening of the dental center was the “cherry-on-top” and concluded a magnificent year filled not only with great achievements, but more importantly, more hope towards improving the lives of many Syrian refugees.
There was no holding back at this point. Dr. Mariam kicked off 2017 with a bang and another record to be added to her tally. On March 10th, she succeeded in completing a 24km swim, crossing the Dubai Creek and the Dubai Water Canal in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. And on the day, Dr. Mariam was announced the first ever swimmer to complete the swim in less than 9 hours.
As part of her vision to help as many Syrian refugees as she possibly can, and spread the word as strongly and widely as possible, Dr. Mariam joined hands with the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and other major non-profit organizations that share her vision and dream.
There is certainly no stopping for Dr. Mariam at this point. It is forward and upward from here on. More events and initiatives are in the pipeline for 2017, and Dr. Mariam believes there is still a lot more to be done. There are no limits to what can be achieved, and as she herself once said: