Saudi Arabia has announced that Princess Rima bint Bandar al-Saud will become its next ambassador to the US – the first woman ever to take on an envoy role for the kingdom.
Her appointment was made public in a royal decree on Saturday.
Princess Rima spent part of her childhood living in Washington DC.
She assumes the role at a difficult time, as Saudi Arabia tries to quell an international outcry over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death.
After giving conflicting explanations of what happened, the Kingdom eventually admitted Khashoggi, who was once a Royal insider, was murdered after entering the country’s consulate in Istanbul last year.
Before his death the journalist was a columnist for the Washington Post newspaper, where he frequently criticised the Saudi government.
Saudi Arabia denies that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had any involvement in his death – a claim the US intelligence community has cast doubt on.
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US lawmakers have tried to pressure the White House into investigating the matter further.
Recently, members of Congress have also investigated US-Saudi relations in other areas, including on nuclear technology and the war in Yemen.
In father’s footsteps
Princess Rima will take over the role from the crown prince’s younger brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman, who has been appointed as the country’s deputy defence minister.
She follows in the footsteps of her father, Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud, who held the US ambassador post from 1983 until 2005.
Because of his role, she spent part of her childhood growing up in the US. She also got a Bachelor of Arts degree in Museum studies from George Washington University.
Since returning to Riyadh in 2005, Princess Rima has worked in both the private and public sector.
She has held several business positions, including as CEO of a retail company with Harvey Nichols Riyadh in its portfolio.
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The princess is widely viewed as being an advocate of women’s rights, in a country frequently criticised for its record on gender equality.
More recently, she worked at the kingdom’s General Sports Authority, with a focus on increasing women’s participation in sport and exercise.
She has also known for her work around breast cancer advocacy.
FaceOf: Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s new ambassador to the US
Source: Arab News
Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, a leading entrepreneur and philanthropist, was named ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the US by royal decree on February 23, 2019,
Prior to her appointment, she was vice president of women’s affairs at the General Sports Authority (GSA), a position she held since 2016. She was also named president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports in 2017 and appointed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in August 2018.
Princess Reema’s father was a former ambassador to the US, and she spent several years there during her youth. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in museum studies from George Washington University.
When she returned to Saudi Arabia in 2005, she assumed CEO positions for Al Hama LLC and Alfa International. She launched her own handbag brand, Baraboux, in 2013. She also founded the private equity fund Reemiyah and co-founded Yibreen, a women’s day spa.
Princess Reema is one of the founding members of the Zahra Breast Cancer Association in Riyadh. She is also a member of The World Bank’s Advisory Council for the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative.
She has spoken publicly about the inclusion of women in the Saudi work force, describing the reforms as “evolution, not Westernization.”
She spoke at the Atlantic Council in Washington about the Kingdom’s efforts to tackle bigger issues than women being allowed to drive or attend football games, which she described as “quick wins.” Problems such as domestic violence demanded greater scrutiny, she said.
Princess Reema also spoke about providing women with careers in a currently male-dominated region.