In Memory Of Soraya And Jumana Salti Remembering A Jordanian Champion

“Say not in grief that she is no more, but say in thankfulness that she was. A death is not the extinguishing of a light, but the putting out of the lamp because the dawn has come.” – Tagore

Today, I learned that both Soraya and her sister Jumana have left this world. I don’t know the details but the news has been tragic, shocking and confusing. Out of respect for the lives they led, I don’t want to talk about this sudden, and perplexing death. I’d much rather celebrate life by remembering it.

I first met Soraya Salti in 2006 at her office in Shmisani. The ball had just started rolling with her INJAZ programme going regional, and at a time when few seemed to be doing anything with education, what she was doing intrigued me. She was one of the first people I’d ever interviewed in Jordan, and at 24, I really didn’t know what I was doing. There I was, sitting in her office in a cheap brown suit, asking her questions I’d prepared on my notepad, and trying my best not to get overwhelmed by this astounding woman. She spoke with exuberance; a cheerfulness so overpowering, you couldn’t help but be pulled in by what she was saying. Passion has become a cliche word these days, but Soraya embodied it, and anyone who has ever met her knows this to be true. Abandoning my notepad around minute 20 of the interview, we spent two hours talking about education, about youth, about hope. I remember going home, eager to write the story – and that’s a rare feeling.

A few months later, we met again at the World Economic Forum. She strolled confidently into these WEF conference rooms and plenary sessions with a group of young Jordanians trailing behind her, while suited-up officials and businessmen looked curiously on. Few people in those rooms knew of INJAZ or her for that matter, but she made sure they’d remember. She’d sheppard these high schoolers from one session to another, and at every Q&A opportunity, there was Soraya – this beautiful, towering woman – raising her hand. And every time she was called on. And every time she would ask the same question, and it was something along the lines of: “why are we talking about these issues without the voice of the most important people in the room?”, after which she would signal one of those young Jordanians to stand up, and before anyone knew what was happening, she’d pass them the microphone and they’d ask a prepared, but critical question. She had them questioning policymakers and leaders from all across the region, and at a time when youth were neither invited to the WEF, nor seen as an essential topic to discuss beyond the conventional line of “we have a youth population problem.” While policymakers talked about jobs, her kids were grilling them about education. I followed them from one session to another – these young insurgents and their fearless leader; critical hecklers for a suit-and-tie event.

In the years that followed, whenever she had a question about digital media, I’d see her name pop up on my phone and I was always happy to take her call and answer her questions. Likewise, whenever I was researching the topic of education, she was my first call. In the years that followed, Soraya became one of the most influential women in the entire region. Even without landing on various magazine lists, her influence was undeniable, and her passion, infectious.

Jordan, and indeed the Arab world, has lost a leader – correction, two leaders. They will be sorely missed and eternally remembered. What a heavy loss.

Our prayers are with their family in this time of grief.

29 thoughts on “In Memory Of Soraya And Jumana Salti Remembering A Jordanian Champion

  1. the passing on of Soraya and Jumana Salti. They will leave a huge vacuum behind.thank you for putting all of those beautiful memories in the right way they should be remembered

  2. What struck me the most about your is post is how well you described Soraya and how all of us who knew her have the very same feeling and impression of this beautiful person. I am totally grief stricken and feel sad for Jordan and the Arab world for losing such a wonderful person. I don’t know Jumana but if she’s anything like Soraya then our loss is doubled. May their souls rest in peace. Haif Bannayan

  3. Soraya is one of the most special people I have ever met, with her positive energy, good heart and beautiful smile that fills your heart with love. She is addicted to helping others often at her own expense,, the word has lost an amazing human being and an wonderful person. This is truly a sad day for Jordan. Our hearts and minds are with her family, nothing in life prepares you for this. May Soraya and Jumana rest in peace.

  4. My prayers are with their family in this time of grief- I am totally chocked, I knew both of them, and they were both outsanding women – A HUGE LOSS FOR ALL ARAB WORLD – May they rest in peace

  5. Thank you for your fitting tribute to Soraya about the amazing imprint she left on the lives she touched and the staunch belief in hope that she advocated. Your Tagorean quote was a worthy choice. Like so many others who knew them, I am deeply saddened to hear this news. Jumana, like her sister, also exuded positive energy and passion for promoting youth empowerment through education, training and opportunity. I consider myself priveleged to have worked with both these beautiful humans. May their memories continue to shine on. Najlah El Haque

  6. Toutes mes condoléances à leurs familles .Que Dieu Leur donne le courage et la force d’affronter cette terrible peine. Les prochaines générations sauront prendre en exemple ces admirables dames.Qu’elles reposent en Paix. Amine.

  7. OMG. Great loss to the Salti family, to Jordan, and to the world. May God bless their souls and grant Raya and their parents the strength to cope. Soraya and Jumana, you will be greatly missed.

  8. From Junior Achievement Americas we also join Jordan and the Arab world in your grief, Soraya was an exceptional human being and we will continue to thrive on her legacy for youth around the world.

  9. I first met Soraya in the early days of Injaz, around the turn of this century, and I immediately became a proponent of Injaz,and still am. Soraya had that effect, her belief and enthusiasm was infectious in the best possible way. I choose to think of Soraya as such, whatever may have happened. May your soul rest in peace, you will be missed by many, who knew you and whose lives you have touched

  10. I became quite close to Soraya while living in Jordan in the year 2000. To call her one of the nicest people I’ve ever met is an understatement. Her physical beauty was magnified as her internal beauty enguIfed you. I am in shock at this tragedy. Soraya those who knew you will all be in pain at this news,you were truly one in a million. My deepest sympathies to her parents for their unmeasurable loss, although I only met Jumana once I am sure her loss will be a devastating blow to those who knew her. Rest in Peace Gorgeous you were truly one of the special ones

  11. This is the most horrible news imaginable and I refuse to accept the “suicide” explanation for this tragedy. Too many successful and progressive women are being killed in the Middle East these days.

    1. It does seem that the Middle East is a dangerous place for progressives these days…. “double suicide” of two bright lights is not plausible to me.

      1. I disagree.. They are both astonishing women like money others.. Although I can’t really believe it’s a suicide , that doesn’t mean Being in the Middle East is the reason, we still have many auccessful women out there.. This is a great loss indeed.. May their souls rest in peace.

  12. Soraya’s smile meant inspiration to everyone around her. She was always bigger than life.

    Rest in peace Soraya and Jumana.

    May Allah bless your loving souls.

  13. So very sad to hear this news. The world is a darker place today. There is not a bone in my body that believes this was a “double suicide” and find it disturbing that so many people are swallowing such a story without question. Jumana and Soraya lived with passion and dignity, their untimely death needs to be investigated. As US passport holders, I hope the US gets involved. My condolences to the Salit family and their loved ones.

  14. What a loss indeed. I never knew about her or her work until the kravis prize news a couple of years back.

    May they both rest in peace. May their families and loved ones always remember them with joy and joyfulness.

  15. I have been thinking for days about what happened. It is unlogical. These women were exceptional. A woman like Soraya doesn’t just message her mom on her way to death to inform her casually that she was about to commit suicide. In my rejection of this absurd idea I have reached my personal theory: the murderer, yes it was murder, was someone who knew the women well. I can imagine this scene: Soraya drives the car to the murder scene, the murderer sits beside her and Jumana sits to the back. While driving the murderer takes the phone of Soraya alledgedly to check something on the net or to write a quick email but in reality sends the suicide message to the mother and then turns off the phone in order to be inaccessible. Once on the scene, the murderer and the two women climb to the high floors, maybe even just to enjoy the view from the high building. While standing on the edge of the roof or the window the murderer shoves the women from behind. The murderer then leaves the building site quietly by foot.

    The authorities can not close the case. There are too many questions that need to be answered.
    Soraya and Jumana rest in peace. Your loss is truely tragical.
    May justice prevail..

Your Two Piasters: