Saudi Arabia’s reform drive empowering women, US diplomat says

Above, US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 February 2020

Saudi Arabia’s reform drive empowering women, US diplomat says

  • Few outside Kingdom understand the scale of female empowerment, top US diplomat tells Arab News

RIYADH: Few people outside Saudi Arabia grasp the scale of the Kingdom’s reform drive, especially in empowering women, a leading US diplomat has told Arab News.

“I was reminded of this … by a prominent Saudi woman, who is happy and proud of the reforms,” said US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.

“She made the excellent point that Saudi women have been strong, capable and educated for a long time.”

The woman told Ortagus that Saudi women wanted their peers in the US to understand them, not feel pity for them. “Saudi women are not in need of being rescued,” Ortagus said,

READ FULL INTERVIEW: Saudi-US bond will last another 75 years, says US State Department spokesperson

Ortagus lived in Saudi Arabia for almost two years after she was appointed deputy US Treasury attache in 2010, and has been revisiting for the first time since then.

“It doesn’t even seem like the same country,” she said. “I didn’t recognize it. I couldn’t believe that it was the same diplomatic quarter that I used to live in 10 years ago — it is totally transformed.”

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Washington would always welcome Saudi input on Middle East issues, she said. “We’d love the Kingdom’s help on things like the peace plan and vision that Jared Kushner has laid out. It may not be a perfect plan, but if we’re ever going to have peace in this region, it’s going to come from Saudi Arabia getting in and being involved.”


Saudi envoy to UK calls for more cooperation amid pandemic

Updated 12 min 42 sec ago

Saudi envoy to UK calls for more cooperation amid pandemic

  • Prince Khalid said the Saudi economy is performing better than some expected

LONDON: Saudi Ambassador to the UK Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan Al-Saud has called for greater cooperation between the two kingdoms amid the coronavirus crisis.

Writing in Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, the envoy said Saudi Arabia and the UK “have lost too many people to the virus,” and referred to the similarities between the two nations in their moves to secure the long-term strength of their economies.

Prince Khalid said Britain and Saudi Arabia enjoy a close relationship, and he feels “very strongly that our two nations can help each other meet the challenges of these very difficult times.”

He added that many Britons work in Saudi companies and vice versa, and while the links between the two kingdoms have often revolved around business, the liberalized leisure opportunities brought about by the Vision 2030 reform plan will make for a rise in tourism and travel. 

Prince Khalid said the Saudi economy is performing better than some expected. Praising his country’s move to privatize Saudi Aramco, he said share prices in the company have reached pre-COVID-19 levels.

But as openness and thriving business and tourism relationships have grown between the Middle East and the West, the envoy expressed fears that some are threatening to use COVID-19 as an opportunity to erect barriers worldwide. 

This cannot “be the legacy of corona,” he said. “We can’t allow a division to emerge between East and West, we must all work together to build a prosperous open global trading legacy.

“Britain and Saudi Arabia, as countries that in different ways are both dependent on global trade, must work together to make sure that the world makes the right choice.”