TheFace: Basma Alshaalan, diplomat at Saudi Arabia’s UN mission

TheFace: Basma Alshaalan, diplomat at Saudi Arabia’s UN mission
Basma Alshaalan,  diplomat at Saudi Arabia’s UN mission. (Ziyad Alarfaj/AN)
Updated 22 February 2019

TheFace: Basma Alshaalan, diplomat at Saudi Arabia’s UN mission

TheFace: Basma Alshaalan, diplomat at Saudi Arabia’s UN mission
  • The author was a former media and communications editor at the World Bank

A culturally diverse environment is the best environment in which to develop skills, and that is what I have gained in working at the World Bank and the UN. I am now working at the Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia to the UN in New York, representing the Kingdom on the Third Committee of the General Assembly, which deals with social, humanitarian and human rights issues.

I was raised in a household in which knowledge, education and support were of vital importance. My father, Hakeem Alshaalan, is a retired chemical engineer with more than 25 years of experience in engineering project management. He helped pave the way for me with his wisdom and unconditional love. My mother, Latifah Alsudairy, the most amiable woman I have ever known, taught me how to be resilient through her adaptive attitude toward life. She is a housewife who devoted her life to supporting her husband and children, and I believe her to be the proud owner of all our achievements.

My siblings are dynamic, each of them with their own paths in life. The youngest two, though still in high school, are the brightest of us all, hence the reason why the family turns to them for the most valuable advice.

Growing up in Saudi Arabia and, later, in three of the world’s most dynamic cities — London, New York and Washington — helped build my capacity to engage with different cultures and people from a variety of backgrounds. I am grateful for how these versatile and vibrant cities have subtly added special meaning to my life and memories.

I completed my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in international relations and national security in the UK and, through persistence, diligence and hard work, earned a spot at New York University, where I graduated with a joint master’s in international relations and international business. The interdisciplinary courses equipped me with the broad knowledge and analytical skills that help me now in my career.

As a result of my interest in understanding community development, the research I conducted during my years in higher education focused on examining various governance models and best practices adopted by governments, non-governmental organizations, international governmental organizations, multinational corporations and small-to-medium enterprises.

After graduating, I joined the World Bank in Washington as a media and communications editor, which expanded my knowledge of the operational mechanism of the World Bank’s development initiatives. Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in cultivating innovation and enabling its human capital through the creation of a culture that rewards determination and helps everyone gain the skills they need to achieve their objectives.

I like to spend a lot of time outdoors, and the hobbies I enjoy include endurance activities such as hiking and running. I find the intense yet seamless process of building endurance is very similar to life.

I am extremely proud of the ongoing economic transformation in the Kingdom and passionately believe in the Saudi future we all envision; I can see that we are now spontaneously preparing for the greatest future that awaits us.

On a personal level, I aspire to play an active part in the process of achieving our national and international objectives, and in my professional career I have been able to link Vision 2030 with the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 agenda.