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.”