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Friday, Feb 03, 2023

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Saudi Arabia’s female ambassadors: Who are the five women representing the Kingdom?

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has made tremendous strides to empower women in the country and offer them greater opportunities. The efforts come as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s transformative Vision 2030 which aims to enhance women’s position in the Kingdom and offer equal opportunities.

Saudi Arabia has so far selected five Saudi women to represent the Kingdom as ambassadors to countries around the world.

Here are the five women who have been appointed to serve the country:


1. Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud

Princess Reema bint Bandar became Saudi Arabia’s first female ambassador in 2019 when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in his role as the King’s deputy, issued a royal decree appointing her as the Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States.

Princess Reema previously served as the deputy of planning and development for the Saudi General Sports Authority and as the authority’s vice president of women’s affairs.

She also served as President of the Mass Participation Federation and was the first woman to lead a multi-sports federation in Saudi Arabia.

In all her roles, Princess Reema has advocated for women’s empowerment and worked to expand opportunities for Saudi women within the Kingdom.

Her father, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, had also served as the country’s ambassador to the US from 1983 to 2005.


2. Haifa al-Jadea

Haifa al-Jadea was appointed as ambassador and head of the Kingdom’s mission to the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) on January 3, 2023.

Al-Jadea holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution and negotiation from Colombia University and a master’s degree in international relations from Syracuse University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.

She is one of the eight executive team members of the Saudi Research and Media Group (SRMG) and was the CEO of SRMG Think.

The ambassador had previously worked at the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center before moving to Riyadh to work on initiatives within the Saudi Vision 2030. She also represented the Kingdom at the UN Security Council and supervised the General Department of International Relations at the Saudi Ministry of Tourism.


3. Inas al-Shahwan

Inas al-Shahwan was sworn in as Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Sweden and Iceland in April 2021. She is the third Saudi woman to be appointed to officially represent the Kingdom.

Al-Shahwan holds a master’s degree in international relations from an Australian university, as well as the Emerging Leadership Program certificate from Harvard University.

During her oath ceremony, al-Shahwan highlighted the unprecedented empowerment of women in the country under the guidance of the Kingdom’s leaders, SPA had reported at the time.

In 2007, al-Shahwan had joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – making her the first woman to be an ambassador from the diplomatic corps. She has also held several positions in the ministry including adviser to the deputy foreign minister for political affairs.

She was also the first woman to hold a department manager position at the foreign ministry’s department for political and economic affairs.


4. Nisreen al-Shibel

Nisreen bint Hamad al-Shibel was appointed as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Finland on January 3, 2023 at the al-Yamamah Palace. She took her oath in front of King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

After the oath ceremony, the newly-appointed ambassador thanked the King on her official Twitter account.

“I extend my thanks and gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and to His Highness the Crown Prince - may God protect them - for the generous trust. I pray to the Almighty that I fulfill their expectations and to help me perform my work to the fullest extent. I also thank His Highness the Minister of Foreign Affairs for his support of the employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” she wrote.


5. Amal Yahya al-Moallimi

In 2020, Amal al-Moallimi was appointed as Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Norway – making her the Kingdom’s second female ambassador.

Al-Moallimi has a bachelor’s degree in English Language from Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University and a graduate degree in Mass Communication and Media from the University of Denver in the US.

She had held the position of the Director General of Organizations and International Cooperation at the Saudi Human Rights Commission in 2019 and was previously the Assistant Secretary-General at Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue.


Saudis hail Vision 2030 women’s workforce figures

Saudis have hailed workforce figures that reveal the growing role of women in the national economy as part of Vision 2030.

Saudi women now comprise 33.6 percent of the Saudi workforce as of March 2022, according to the General Authority for Statistics. That figure is up from 17.4 percent just five years ago.

The unemployment rate of women was the lowest in 20 years as of the first quarter of 2022, falling to 20.2 percent from 22.5 percent during the fourth quarter of 2021.

Vision 2030 promotes Saudi women as an important part of the Kingdom’s strength. It aims to develop their talents, invest their energies, and provide them with the right opportunities to build their futures, contributing to the development of society.

Experts say that the influx of women in the labor market is due to reforms, legislations and laws that foster an inclusive environment in the workplace.

Saad A. Al-Hammad, spokesperson of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, said: “The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has implemented policies and initiatives that support inclusivity, and diversity in the labor market through introducing various incentives to enhance the positive image of women in the workplace, and to create a supportive and inclusive environment to facilitate women’s entry into the labor market.”

According to labor market data, 27.7 percent of Saudi women were employed in the education sector and 17.7 percent in the retail and wholesale sector as of March 2022.

This is very impressive, in every western liberal standard. Western countries has definitely a lot to learn from Saudi Arabia about Woman's empowerment and equality.

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