Loading...

Princess Reema bint Bandar Says American Childhood Prepared Her for Ambassadorship

June 1, 2021 by Kate Michael
Princess Reema bint Bandar

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.”

Political News

November 30, 2021
by Dan McCue
House to Convene Jan. 10, Meet for 112 Days in 2022

WASHINGTON — The second session of the 117th Congress will convene on Jan. 10 and meet for 112 days, including... Read More

WASHINGTON — The second session of the 117th Congress will convene on Jan. 10 and meet for 112 days, including committee work days, in 2022, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced Tuesday. The full 2022 calendar can be found here. A one-page version can be found... Read More

November 30, 2021
by Dan McCue
WTO Cancels Meeting, Delaying Vote on IP Waiver for COVID Vaccines

GENEVA, Switzerland — The World Trade Organization has postponed its first ministerial meeting in four years, citing concerns over the... Read More

GENEVA, Switzerland — The World Trade Organization has postponed its first ministerial meeting in four years, citing concerns over the new coronavirus variant. The move will effectively delay a vote on a waiver sought by several developing countries on the intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines... Read More

November 29, 2021
by Kate Michael
Critics Say Humanitarian Aid May Prolong Conflict, Hamper Long-Term Development

WASHINGTON — According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at the end of 2020 the most people on... Read More

WASHINGTON — According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at the end of 2020 the most people on record — about 82.4 million people — were displaced around the world and 243.8 million people required humanitarian assistance. That is one in 33 people worldwide... Read More

November 29, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Interior Dept. Report Advocates Shift Away From Fossil Fuels

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration’s new proposal to overhaul the nation's oil and gas leasing program drew praise this week... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration’s new proposal to overhaul the nation's oil and gas leasing program drew praise this week from environmentalists in Congress but complaints from oil-producing states. The proposal wouldn’t eliminate oil and gas leases but it would impose severe restrictions on them and... Read More

November 29, 2021
by Dan McCue
Biden Tells Americans New COVID Variant ‘Not Cause for Panic’

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden addressed the nation Monday, calling the new omicron variant of the coronavirus a cause for... Read More

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden addressed the nation Monday, calling the new omicron variant of the coronavirus a cause for concern “but not a cause for panic.” Speaking in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of... Read More

November 29, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Bannon Accused of Trying to Orchestrate Trial by Media

WASHINGTON — Prosecutors on Sunday accused former Trump advisor Stephen K. Bannon of trying to defend against the criminal charges... Read More

WASHINGTON — Prosecutors on Sunday accused former Trump advisor Stephen K. Bannon of trying to defend against the criminal charges he faces through the media instead of federal court. They said in a court filing that Bannon wants to share witness statements with reporters in an... Read More

News From The Well
Exit mobile version