Monday 21 October 2019

Princess named first female Saudi ambassador

Saudi Princess Reema bint Bandar al-Saud. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Saudi Princess Reema bint Bandar al-Saud. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Sara Elizabeth Williams in Amman

A Saudi princess has been named as the country's first ever female ambassador and its next envoy to the United States.

The appointment of Princess Reema bint Bandar al-Saud comes as the conservative kingdom remains under international scrutiny over the alleged torture of imprisoned female activists and the murder in Istanbul of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident journalist.

The kingdom's strict regime for women was highlighted last month after a teenager, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, made a dramatic escape from the country, citing an abusive family and state-sponsored oppression.

Princess Reema, whose father, Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud, held the post from 1983 until 2005, grew up in the US and Saudi Arabia, and gained a degree in museum studies from George Washington University.

A high-profile businesswoman, she has worked in the public and private sector, notably as the CEO of a retail company with Harvey Nichols in its portfolio. She is also known for her advocacy work on women's rights, increased women's participation in sport, and breast cancer awareness.

Princess Reema will take over the role from Prince Khalid bin Salman, the younger brother of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who has been named Saudi deputy defence minister.

The US envoy oversees one of Saudi Arabia's most valuable relationships, which has been strained over the murder of Mr Khashoggi and its role in the war in Yemen. The two countries are bound by shared interests in the Middle East, including hundreds of billions of dollars in arms deals. (© Daily Telegraph London)

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