Princess Reema bint Bandar meets President Trump, presents credentials as Saudi envoy to US

US President Donald Trump and Ambassador Princess Reema bint Bandar at the White House on Monday. (Saudi Embassy photo via Twitter)
Updated 09 July 2019
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Princess Reema bint Bandar meets President Trump, presents credentials as Saudi envoy to US

  • Princess Reema is Saudi Arabia's first female ambassador and 11th Saudi diplomatic representative to Washington

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Princess Reema bint Bandar, has met with President Donald Trump and presented her credentials as the Kingdom's top diplomat in Washington.

"HRH Ambassador @rbalsaud met with @POTUS Donald J. Trump at the White House today to present her credentials as the new Ambassador of the Kingdom of #SaudiArabia to the United States," the Saudi Embassy in Washington said early Tuesday. 

 

"HRH stated that the Saudi-U.S. partnership is essential to the interests of both countries and expressed confidence that the two countries are capable of overcoming any challenges at the regional or global levels," the embassy said.

The new ambassador also announced her meeting with the US president in a tweet.

“Presented credentials today at the White House. Conveyed the well wishes of Kingdom’s Leadership. Looking forward to working on strengthening and solidifying the historic Saudi - US partnership,” she said.

Princess Reema assumed her new office on July 4, more than two months after she was appointed to the key post, replacing Prince Khaled bin Salman, who is now the Kingdom’s deputy defense minister.

She was nominated to the post on February 23 and took her oath before King Salman in Riyadh in April, becoming Saudi Arabia's first female ambassador and the 11th Saudi diplomatic representative to Washington.

Princess Reema is no stranger to the workings of diplomats, having spent several years in the US during her youth when her father, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the country.

Before her diplomatic appointment, Princess Reema held various key positions in government as well as civic groups and private firms.

She held CEO positions for Al Hama LLC and Alfa International from 2005 and has launched her own handbag brand, Baraboux, in 2013. She also founded the private equity fund Reemiyah and co-founded Yibreen, a women’s day spa.

She is one of the founding members of the Zahra Breast Cancer Association in Riyadh and is also a member of The World Bank’s Advisory Council for the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative.

She was also vice president of women’s affairs at the General Sports Authority since 2016 before her appointment as ambassador. 


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.