High tea at the Ritz-Carlton is perk of the job for diplomats’ wives

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The wives of ambassadors from a number of countries and UN organizations pose for a group photo at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton Hotel. (AN photo)
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The wives of ambassadors from a number of countries and UN organizations pose for a group photo at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton Hotel. (AN photo)
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The wives of ambassadors from a number of countries and UN organizations pose for a group photo at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton Hotel. (AN photo)
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The wives of ambassadors from a number of countries and UN organizations pose for a group photo at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton Hotel. (AN photo)
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The wives of ambassadors from a number of countries and UN organizations pose for a group photo at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton Hotel. (AN photo)
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The wives of ambassadors from a number of countries and UN organizations pose for a group photo at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton Hotel. (AN photo)
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Updated 21 February 2018
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High tea at the Ritz-Carlton is perk of the job for diplomats’ wives

RIYADH: High tea at the Ritz-Carlton is an extravagant and lavish occasion, enjoyed in exquisite surroundings fit for royalty.
On this occasion, however, the guests were not royals but the wives of ambassadors from a number of countries and UN organizations.
They were given a tour of the hotel and, over tiny sandwiches, scrumptious cakes and fancy herbal teas, they discussed issues close to their hearts, including feminism, women’s rights, religion and, of course, fashion.
Many of the women are working to help communities, and gather monthly to better understand the culture of the country in which their husbands are stationed, and their role within it.
They are split into groups based on the country or organization their husbands represent. There is also an executive committee, and each group has a coordinator, vice coordinator and treasurer.
“We organize activities,” said Nafisa Ahmed, the wife of the representative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to the Kingdom. “The main object of the group is to make the stay of the families accommodating and comfortable — a support group, you might say. But our main objective is to strengthen our relations with the Saudi community, to learn more about them and to let them learn more about us. Who better than women to be socially active in this field?” During their monthly meetings, the women visit different parts of the city to add to their understanding of the country, and experience as much of it as possible.
Jo Allento, the wife of the Philippine ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, has been in Saudi Arabia since November 2017. She converted to Islam when she met her husband and, like other Muslims among the wives, feels blessed to be in the country of the Two Holy Mosques.
“I love this place, because in such short a time it has given me the opportunity to profess my religion,” she says. “I performed my Umrah — it was amazing. It is such a feeling, I can’t explain. “I’m enjoying Saudi Arabia immensely, although it's different and we have to understand the culture.”
Grisel Sandoval Schellenberg, wife of the Swiss ambassador, has been in Saudi Arabia for more than four years and has seen immense changes in social and environmental awareness.
“When I first arrived here, they were washing the streets with water,” she said. “This makes no sense. We live in the middle of the desert and water resources are very precious. But now, I see awareness and people are more conservative in their use of natural resources. Even the pool heater this year was turned off during the winter because saving energy was crucial.” Sabine Farra, whose husband is the Argentine ambassador, is a big fan of the Ritz-Carlton.
“The hotel reflects the generosity and hospitality of the Saudi people,” she said. “We have fond memories of it, especially when [soccer player Lionel] Messi and the Argentine [national soccer] team stayed at the Ritz. We had a wonderful dinner.” Gerrit Graef, the hotel's general manager, said: “It was an honor and pleasure to host these ladies and I’m glad that they enjoyed their tour of the Ritz-Carlton as well as the afternoon tea time and the cooking demonstrations at Azzuro we prepared for them. We look forward to seeing them again.”




 


World boxing champ Amir Khan eyes Kingdom for new academy

Updated 5 min 8 sec ago
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World boxing champ Amir Khan eyes Kingdom for new academy

  • The former boxing world champion said there were a lot of warriors in Saudi Arabia
  • Khan said he believes the Kingdom possesses a lot of talent

RIYADH: British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan wants to open a boxing academy in Saudi Arabia, and hopes the Kingdom will see rising stars become Olympic champions soon.

Speaking at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday, he said the only way to achieve this was by opening academies in the Kingdom.  

“I believe that there is so much talent in Saudi, but there aren’t many boxing clubs,” he said.

Speaking at the midday session of the forum in a session titled “What Defines Me,” Khan said he believed there was a reason Saudis are good boxers: “Maybe it is in their blood – they are warriors.”

The former world champion and Olympic medalist, arrived on stage at the event wearing traditional Saudi clothes, both the thobe and shomakh, and was interviewed by Lubna Al-Omair, the first Saudi female Olympic fencer.

Khan has a charitable foundation in his name that is dedicated to empowering disadvantaged young people globally.

“All around the world I build boxing academies, (including in) England, Pakistan,” he said. “It is a way to give back and help the less fortunate. We travel all around the world to help the poor, the youth ... in the future they will do the same.”

Khan credited his father for placing him in a boxing club. “When I was young, I was hyperactive, always misbehaving, and my father took me to the boxing club. Boxing gave me discipline.”  

And he credited fans for his motivation, explaining: “At 17 I became a household name and couldn’t walk the streets without people stopping me for a picture. People are looking up to me and wanting me to succeed, and that was my motivation.”

Khan said boxing helps develop self-discipline and emotional intelligence. “Boxing teaches you to be disciplined,” he said.

“What boxing teaches you is not to fight outside. If a fight is taking place, I walk away.”

Khan also had advice for athletes in training: “The harder you work in the gym, the easier it will be in the game,” he said.

And he added: “Work hard and never give up. I always like to work harder than my opponents.”