Princess Reema sworn in as new Saudi envoy to US

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Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan was appointed Saudi ambassador to the US. (SPA)
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The newly appointed ambassadors were sworn in before King Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)
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Prince Abdullah bin Khaled bin Sultan takes his oath as the new Saudi ambassador to the Austria. (SPA)
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King Salman with the newly appointed ambassadors. (SPA)
Updated 17 April 2019
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Princess Reema sworn in as new Saudi envoy to US

  • Princess Reema follows in the footsteps of her father Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was also Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the country
  • The George Washington University graduate replaces Prince Khaled bin Salman, who was appointed deputy defense minister

RIYADH: Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan made diplomatic history on Tuesday when she was sworn in as Saudi ambassador to the US.

The princess took the oath of loyalty before King Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh, to become Saudi Arabia’s first female ambassador.

“I swear by Almighty Allah to be faithful to my religion, to my king and my country; to never reveal any state secrets; to preserve the Kingdom’s interests and laws at home and abroad; and to perform my duty with sincerity, honesty and loyalty,” she said.

Princess Reema spent several years in the US during her youth when her father, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was also Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the country. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in museum studies from George Washington University. A noted entrepreneur and philanthropist, before her diplomatic appointment Princess Reema had been vice president of women’s affairs at the General Sports Authority since 2016. 

Also sworn in on Tuesday were the new Saudi Ambassador to Austria, Prince Abdullah bin Khaled bin Sultan; to Cameroon, Abdulilah Mohammed Al-Shuaibi; and to Cyprus, Khaled bin Mohammed Al-Sharif. 

Prince Khaled bin Bandar, who attended the ceremony, later expressed his thanks and gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for appointing him the Kingdom’s ambassador to the UK.


Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019
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Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


EVENTS WATCH

1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.


The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.