Saudi Ambassador to US Princess Reema hailed as ‘inspiring figure’ for female empowerment

Princess Reema was appointed as the ambassador to the US in Febrauary. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 12 March 2019

Saudi Ambassador to US Princess Reema hailed as ‘inspiring figure’ for female empowerment

  • The new ambassador to the US has been noted for her efforts in advocating for empowering Saudi women

DUBAI: Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan made history last month, becoming the first Saudi woman to be made an ambassador.

After she was named Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in the US, Ridwaan Jadwat, Australia’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, called her appointment “an important milestone,” and wished her a happy and successful posting.

A recognized global figure, Princess Reema has spoken publicly about the inclusion of women in the Saudi workforce, describing the liberalization under way as “evolution, not Westernization.”

She has said, though, that the Kingdom’s efforts to allow women to drive or attend football games are only “quick wins.” More professional opportunities need to be created, and problems such as domestic violence, she believes, demand greater scrutiny.

Princess Reema spent several years in the US during her youth when her father, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was also Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the country. She graduated with
a bachelor’s degree in museum studies from George Washington University.

After returning to the Kingdom in 2005, and spending time as the CEO of Harvey Nichols in Riyadh, the princess launched a handbag brand in 2013, before founding a private equity fund and a women’s day spa. She is a member of the World Bank’s Advisory Council for its Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, is vice president of women’s affairs at the General Sports Authority, and is a founding member of the Zahra Breast Cancer Association in Riyadh. In August 2018 she was also appointed to the International Olympic Committee.

Speaking to Arab News last month, Dominique Mineur, Belgium’s ambassador to Riyadh, said the appointment of Princess Reema demonstrated the Kingdom’s resolve to give more prominent roles to women.

“Of course, she is an inspiring figure and has been supporting women in so many fields, such as sports, health, work and financial independence,” Mineur said. “It’s a logical appointment considering the role she has played.”

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

Updated 21 min 35 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

  • “I was transported into a completely different world”: Jay Kay

ALULA: British band Jamiroquai thrilled a delighted audience at Maraya Concert Hall in Saudi Arabia on Friday night during a show packed with hits.

In a first for a venue more used to hosting opera and classical concerts, the British funk/acid jazz outfit had fans dancing along to the music.

The show, at the distinctive, mirror-covered concert hall in historic AlUla, was part of the second Winter at Tantora festival. It opened with “Shake It On,” followed by the hit singles “Little L,” “Alright,” and “Space Cowboy.” By this time the crowd was well and truly warmed up, and “Use the Force” got them on their feet.

“The song seemed to resonate with everyone” Jay Kay told Arab News in an exclusive interview after the show.

During the gig, Kay dedicated the 2002 song “Corner of the Earth” to AlUla, which he described as a “magical and wonderful place, which is absolutely stunning.” The opportunity to perform there was “an honor and privilege” he added. He also thanked “Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for his vision, and Prince Badr for making this happen and the great hospitality.”

After a further selection of singles and album tracks, the show ended on a high with a quartet of hits — “Cosmic Girl,” “Virtual Insanity,” “Canned Heat” and “Lovefoolosophy.”

Kay praised the Maraya Concert Hall as “a brilliant place to play.” He admitted that initially he was a little worried when he saw it because he was under the impression it would be an outdoor venue. However, any concerns he had were gone by the time the first sound check was done.

“I was transported into a completely different world; the acoustics were unbelievable, like being in a German concert hall,” he said. “It is obviously very well thought out and that’s what makes it so good. The sound was fabulous — I never looked at my sound guy once.”

Jamiroquai’s music videos often feature Kay in super cars, of which he owns many, and he revealed that he would love to shoot such a promo in AlUla.

“In reality, I’m desperate to get in one of the dune buggies, and would kill to have a (Ariel) Nomad and have a go in one in AlUla, where it’s supposed to be driven, for a day or five and dune bash, which is such a rare thing for us in England,” he said.

The singer also said he wants to bring his family to AlUla, which has become a hub for culture and creativity in Saudi Arabia.

“I would like to come out with my family and my youngest, who is called Talula, so hopefully we can have Talula come to AlUla, which would be wonderful,” said Kay.

He added that he was looking forward to exploring the area on Saturday, before leaving the country, but added: “I’m sure you can never have enough time to see everything there is to see.”