In her first interview with American media, US Ambassador to Washington Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan hailed the relations between Riyadh and Washington, saying she was seeking to bring them closer together.
Speaking to Politico, she said her instinct is to work more on what she calls the “soft side of social change.”
She wants the US-Saudi story to no longer focus just on counter-terrorism or oil, talking instead of a “comprehensive partnership” in business, culture and education.
She hoped that there would no longer be differences in Saudi-American relations.
“Everyone has the right to their own opinion, and I would like to be judged on the quality of my work,” she told Politico in September “I am not here with bubble wrap, and I would be offended if I was treated with kid gloves.”
Princess Reema, 44, is the first woman to serve as a Saudi ambassador to a foreign country.
The magazine recalled the Princess Reema’s first day in office as some 50 female embassy employees gathered in the ballroom to meet their new boss. Princess Reema had been in Washington for only a few weeks, and this was her first group meeting of embassy staff—but only the women.
“Today, it’s just the women,” she said. “It is our day to celebrate.”
Earlier that day, the Saudi government had announced it was relaxing the country’s guardianship system, a mixture of laws and customs requiring women to get permission from men in their families to make all manner of personal decisions.
The ambassador talked the women through their new rights, including obtaining passports and traveling abroad, registering marriages, filing for divorce and serving as legal guardians for children.
“Her job is clear, which is to erase some of the negative view people have of the kingdom,” said Karen Elliott House, author of On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines and Future.