Princess Reema bint Bandar Says American Childhood Prepared Her for Ambassadorship
WASHINGTON — Her Royal Highness Princess Reema bint Bandar remembers DC’s cicadas. In fact, she says she lived through the “cicada invasion” twice during her “non-diplomatic, but highly socially-connected” childhood in Northern Virginia while her father served as Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States from 1983-2005.
Now, the Ambassador role is hers and the Brood X visitors are here, but Bandar claims Saudi Arabia is very different, especially after its recent efforts toward economic and social liberalization, including enhanced women’s rights.
“I’m lucky to have experienced life in both Saudi and the United States,” said Bandar, speaking to participants of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center’s webinar series which focuses on women in roles of leadership in diplomacy, international business, philanthropy, culture, and the arts. She suggested that her dual experiences help her to better understand perceptions in both countries as well as to encourage a generation of young people that aspire to change.
“My memories of America are memories of joy, but the world began to change… and those seeds [of change] are what I’m dealing with now,” said Bandar. “In each hat, each life that I lived, informed me and prepared me for the work I’m doing now, to be honest.”
Among her roles, Bandar has been a founder, a CEO, a leader in financial literacy, and now the first female envoy in Saudi Arabia’s history just at the time when President Biden is recalibrating relations with the Gulf nation. She offered insights on evolving roles for women in her country but also used her American experience and her singular charm to counter any anti-Saudi sentiment.
“Today’s times are different but equally as important and equally as challenging… It’s my goal to [explain] why this alliance is even more important now than ever before,” said Bandar.
Touting Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform programs, which offer plans for sustainability, tourism, and innovation as well as political and social changes to be achieved by the year 2030, Bandar suggested that there may be “stories misinterpreted or underreported” in America, but she insisted that Saudi’s reform process is “real and here to stay.”
Making no specific mention of Saudi’s human rights record or other criticisms, Bandar said Vision 2030 was a “transformational project” about “designing a country that provides a framework for [Saudi Arabia] to be what young people want it to be.”
“[It’s about] unlocking the nation’s untapped potential… opening the country to the world economically, socially, and culturally,” Bandar said. After 2030, she anticipates a Saudi Arabia with a more diversified economy, stepping away from its singular focus on fossil fuels, and which focuses on green and sustainable knowledge and technology. Tourism will also be more prominent, with Saudi opening more heritage sites to visitors. And women will not only have increased rights and independence but will play a larger role in the nation’s new workforce.
“We, the designers and tinkerers of this [Vision 2030] are… creating the framework to help the next generation to build and design,” said Bandar.
“It’s so easy to dismiss us with a headline,” she said, but disagreeing that the U.S., Saudi relationship is under stress, Bandar said Saudi reforms are about even more than giving women a seat at the table, but also “to open the doors of my country.”
“We don’t always end where we started. We have to accept the fact that the world has to evolve as we do,” said Bandar. “The worst thing we can do is resent others through our differences. Each country has a sovereign right to live as we want to live. Respect the differences, honor the similarities.”
In The News
SAN ANTONIO — Although much of the state’s social and political fabric has changed since the last Texas Democrat won... Read More
SAN ANTONIO — Although much of the state’s social and political fabric has changed since the last Texas Democrat won a statewide office in 1994, the party has repeatedly failed to capitalize through its messaging on Republicans’ miscues. Now, with new opportunities on the horizon, rural... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Biden Administration on Friday imposed air travel restrictions on eight African nations in response to a new... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Biden Administration on Friday imposed air travel restrictions on eight African nations in response to a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa. The new travel restrictions, which go into effect Monday, apply to citizens of South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho,... Read More
WASHINGTON — A new, groundbreaking study suggests not only is there strong bipartisan support for corporate efforts to address environmental,... Read More
WASHINGTON — A new, groundbreaking study suggests not only is there strong bipartisan support for corporate efforts to address environmental, social and governance challenges, but that the bipartisan appeal of these initiatives dramatically increases among Americans under the age of 45. The study, “Unlocking the Bipartisan... Read More
WASHINGTON — Representatives from more than 100 countries recently gathered in Glasgow, Scotland, for the COP26 climate conference in an... Read More
WASHINGTON — Representatives from more than 100 countries recently gathered in Glasgow, Scotland, for the COP26 climate conference in an effort to pledge commitments and action against climate change, especially actions to prevent temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius, which would unleash severe climate change... Read More
SAN ANTONIO — Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, announced on Monday that he plans to join the Republican primary field for... Read More
SAN ANTONIO — Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, announced on Monday that he plans to join the Republican primary field for Texas attorney general in a bid to oust incumbent Ken Paxton. Gohmert, who has served in the House of Representatives since 2005, was previously elected state... Read More
WASHINGTON — More than 100 Democrats in the House and Senate are urging their colleagues to help them guarantee a... Read More
WASHINGTON — More than 100 Democrats in the House and Senate are urging their colleagues to help them guarantee a woman’s timely access to birth control at her local pharmacy. The legislation, the Access to Birth Control Act, was reintroduced in the Senate Tuesday by Sens.... Read More