Princess Nourah: The woman who had ‘the brain of 40 men’

One of Princess Nourah's famous dresses, decorated with a circular geometric shape and filled with colored sequins. (Supplied/“Nourah bint Abdulrahman bin Faisal bin Turki Al-Saud an Illustrated Biography”)
One of Princess Nourah's famous dresses, decorated with a circular geometric shape and filled with colored sequins. (Supplied/“Nourah bint Abdulrahman bin Faisal bin Turki Al-Saud an Illustrated Biography”)
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Updated 22 September 2021

Princess Nourah: The woman who had ‘the brain of 40 men’

One of Princess Nourah's famous dresses, decorated with a circular geometric shape and filled with colored sequins. (Supplied/“Nourah bint Abdulrahman bin Faisal bin Turki Al-Saud an Illustrated Biography”)
  • Born in Riyadh in 1875, Princess Nourah was close to her brother growing up and shared his trials during the family’s exile

RIYADH: The tale of the heroism of the small band of brothers who fought alongside Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman, the founder of Saudi Arabia, in his epic battle to recapture Riyadh in 1902 is a key part of the story of the creation of the Kingdom.

But what should also not be forgotten on National Day is the role played in those turbulent times by the future king’s older sister, Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman Al-Saud.

One year his senior, Princess Nourah was Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman’s playmate throughout his childhood and was by his side throughout the family’s exile in Riyadh after the defeat of their father’s forces by the rival Rashidi dynasty at the battle of Al-Mulaida in 1891.

When destiny beckoned, wrote the Saudi historian Dr. Dalal Mukhlid Al-Harbi in her 2008 book “Prominent Women from Central Arabia,” Nourah was “a great inspiration behind Abdulaziz’s quest to regain his forefathers’ seat of authority in Riyadh.” 

The Princess “nourished his will to recapture Riyadh after his first failed attempt. When he completed his preparations for his second attempt to regain the city, his mother cried long and hard and tried to dissuade him, but Nourah encouraged him to complete the mission, which he did successfully. This was part of her supportive role for her brother while the family was in Kuwait.”

That role became still more important to her brother after the recapture of Riyadh and the return of the Al-Saud family to their heartland, as Abdulaziz set out on the long and difficult road that would eventually lead to the unification of the Hijaz and Nejd and the foundation in 1932 of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Born in Riyadh in 1875, Princess Nourah was close to her brother growing up and shared his trials during the family’s exile.

Their bond only grew stronger as the future King took on the burdens of statehood, wrote Al-Harbi, going on to highlight “the close relationship Nourah had with her brother, a relationship in which the natural bonds of family were mixed with friendship and all that entails: consultation, asking for opinions and giving advice.”

Such was the depth of the lifelong connection between the two that, as King, “Abdulaziz would visit her every day, keen that a day should not pass without seeing her.”

When the telephone was introduced to Riyadh in the 1930s, the first line to be laid ran between the palaces of the King and his sister.

The Princess was a confidante upon whom the King could always depend for a straight answer and sound advice. She was “frank with King Abdulaziz, telling him what was on her mind without fear or hesitation,” Al-Harbi wrote.

In his biography of his father — King Abdulaziz’s half-brother, Prince Mohammed ibn Abdulrahman Al-Saud — the late Prince Bandar Ibn Mohammed Ibn Abdulrahman Al-Saud wrote that Princess Nourah was “one of the few women of her time who mastered reading and writing.”

As a result, she was “a woman of the deepest understanding, proper judgment.” Possessing the “best of character,” she was “adored by all members of Al-Saud family” and “also very close to people’s hearts and minds.”

Prince Bandar, who passed away in January 2020 at the age of 95, added that Nourah became a popular girl’s name among parents throughout the Kingdom, who “named their daughter after her in recognition of her noble character, right judgment, good faith, generosity, proper tongue, and humbleness.”

Aside from all of these characteristics, he added, Princess Nourah “had an amazing ability for solving the problems of those around her, Al-Saud and others alike ...  using her clear and enlightened judgment (and) was also able to connect with others, Saudis and non-Saudis.”

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, writing as a columnist in Arab News in 2012, said the princess was “the most popular, charismatic and influential woman, not only in the Kingdom, but also in the Gulf area. Some of her advice had a very big impact on the history of the area.”

Western scholars considered her “the first lady in a country ruled by kings,” Al-Mulhim said, while many older Saudis referred to her as “the woman who has the brain of 40 men.”

Without doubt, he added, in addition to being a “very charming lady and a woman of wisdom,” she was also “a top-class political and strategic thinker.”

In her book, Al-Harbi recalled the impact the Princess had on foreign visitors to Saudi Arabia during the early years of the Kingdom. 

Violet Dickson, the wife of Lt. Col. Harold Richard Patrick Dickson, who until 1936 was Britain’s political agent in Kuwait, met Nourah in 1937. She later described her as not only “one of the most attractive and joyful women I have ever met ... one of the most beautiful, great and famous girls of all times,” but also “one of the most important personalities in the Arabian Peninsula.” 

For Harry St. John Philby, a British colonial officer who converted to Islam in 1930 after becoming an advisor to King Abdulaziz, Nourah was nothing less than “the First Lady of her country.”

The Princess, wrote Al-Harbi, “played an influential role in many aspects of political and social life,” and perhaps never more so than in the critical healing of a breach in the Al-Saud family.

Her marriage in the early 1900s to Saud ibn Abdulaziz ibn Saud ibn Faisal ibn Turki, from a branch of the family that had fallen out with her brother, was the “outward symbol of the process of reconciliation between Abdulaziz and his cousins.” Although the dispute continued for some time, “by 1912 the matter was settled and Saud became one of Abdulaziz’s staunchest supporters.”

Al-Harbi adds: “I would suggest that some credit for this change of heart must be given to Nourah, for Saud loved her dearly. This action shows her wisdom, soundness of mind and eagerness to heal the rift between him and her brother.”

Right up to her death in July 1950 at the age of 75, Princess Nourah remained a source of advice and inspiration for her brother, who died three years later. Many sources recall that, whenever faced with challenging situations that demanded boldness, wisdom, and quick thinking, King Abdulaziz would reach a decision with the declaration “I am the brother of Nourah!”

Today, Princess Nourah’s name and spirit lives on in a fitting tribute to this pioneering woman.

In 2006, the first university for women was established in Riyadh, bringing under one roof half a dozen colleges, the first of which had been established by the General Presidency for Girls’ Education in 1970. On October 29, 2008, while laying a foundation stone at the campus, King Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al-Saud renamed what has become the world’s largest all-female educational institution the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University — known today as simply PNU.

“Women carry a responsibility that is more than a duty, to maintain the stability of society and contribute to building the economy of the nation, and to represent the community and the nation to the highest standards, outside and inside the country,” the King said at the ceremony.

In a speech that might have been addressed directly to Nourah, his father’s beloved sister and confidante, he added: “To be the caring mother, exemplary citizen and productive employee. Outside the nation, to be the ambassador of her country and community, and to represent well her religion, faith and our values.”

Diriyah, past, present and future
On Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day, the birthplace of the Kingdom continues to make history

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Saudi Arabia announces 2 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 2 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 23 October 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 2 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 2 more COVID-19 deaths

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced two deaths from COVID-19 and 43 new infections on Saturday.

Of the new cases, 13 were recorded in Riyadh, eight in Jeddah, two in Buraidah, two in Madinah, two in Makkah, and two in Dhahran. Several other cities recorded one new case each.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 537,246 after 38 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 8,776 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

Over 45 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Saudi Arabia welcomes UN Security Council's condemnation of Houthi attacks

Saudi Arabia welcomes UN Security Council's condemnation of Houthi attacks
Updated 23 October 2021

Saudi Arabia welcomes UN Security Council's condemnation of Houthi attacks

Saudi Arabia welcomes UN Security Council's condemnation of Houthi attacks
  • The state-run news agency said the condemnation represents the Security Council’s commitment to the crisis in Yemen

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia welcomed Saturday a statement by the UN Security Council condemning attacks by the Houthi militia against the kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

The state-run news agency said the condemnation represents the Security Council’s commitment to the crisis in Yemen and recognizes the importance of resolving this conflict politically.

This would contain the crisis’ negative repercussions caused by the Houthis’ rejection of calls for a ceasefire and the lack of positive engagement in political negotiations that would lead to the return of security and stability in Yemen, SPA said.

 

 


Saudi Green Initiative forum

Saudi Green Initiative forum
Updated 23 October 2021

Saudi Green Initiative forum

Saudi Green Initiative forum

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman opened the Saudi Green Initiative forum in Riyadh place on Saturday, announcing the Kingdom’s new “green” objectives.

The forum will discuss Saudi Arabia's environmental efforts with guests that include high-profile government leaders and international personalities.

"We announce in this Forum the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's roadmap for protecting the environment and confronting climate change. This annual forum will serve as a platform to launch our new environmental initiatives and monitor the impact of the previously announced ones," the Crown Prince said. 

"I am pleased to launch initiatives in the energy sector that will reduce carbon emissions by (278) million tons annually by 2030, thus voluntarily more than doubling the target announced, estimated at (130) million tons annually," he added.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also announced the Kingdom's accession to the Global Methane Pledge, "which aims to reduce methane emissions globally by 30 percent."

The Crown Prince also announced Saudi Arabia’s intention to join the Global Oceans Alliance, the Alliance to Eliminate Plastic Waste in Oceans and Beaches, the Sports for Climate Action Agreement, and to establish a global center for Sustainable Tourism, and a Non-Profit foundation to explore the seas and oceans.

"I look forward to the Middle East Green Initiative Summit, which we will host the day after tomorrow, with the aim of synergizing and coordinating efforts among the countries of the region to develop the plans necessary to reach the Middle East Green Initiative target," he concluded. 

12:54 p.m. KSA

Tony Chan, president of KAUST, calls for more partnerships, and collaboration between the public and private sectors to achieve environmental objectives.

 "We are working closely with NEOM to build one of its largest gardens," he said. 

12:41 p.m. KSA

Saudi Arabia has a big opportunity to be leader in the future of the ocean, said World OceanCouncil CEO Paul Holthus, adding that Aramco is one of the biggest ocean-related companies in world.

11:42 a.m. KSA 

 

Prince Charles says we have already seen great progress, which the Saudi and Middle East green initiatives will accelerate.

"We now have dangerously narrow window of opportunity to accelerate climate change action," Prince Charles said.

11:20 a.m. KSA 

Saudi environment minister says the Kingdom will use 50 million hectares for planting the 10 billion trees target under the Saudi Green Initiative.

 

 

The Crown Prince increased the percentage of protected land from 16 percent to 20 percent under the Saudi Green Initiative, the enviroment minister said. 

10:44 a.m. KSA

The UAE's Sultan Al-Jaber says the world is entering an oil supply crunch.

 

10:37 a.m. KSA

Executive secretary of UNFCCC says Kingdom targets are very powerful figures ahead of COP26.

 "It sends very powerful signal at the right moment," Patricia Espinosa said. 

10:25 a.m. KSA 

Saudi energy minister says the Kingdom’s youth will play a big role in the Saudi Green Initiative.

 "They are determined to make their own future," he told the forum. 
 

 


First full Friday prayers at Two Holy Mosques

First full Friday prayers at Two Holy Mosques
Updated 23 October 2021

First full Friday prayers at Two Holy Mosques

First full Friday prayers at Two Holy Mosques
  • Worshippers return to holy cities as restrictions eased

MAKKAH: After more than a year and a half, Muslims worldwide were delighted to see Friday prayers at the Two Holy mosques return to full capacity.

Considered the two holiest sites in Islam, painful images of the mosques devoid of worshippers due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020 affected Muslims everywhere, but particularly citizens of Makkah and Madinah.

“It’s a blessing, to walk in the mosque’s pathways and you’re surrounded by people again,” said Abdullah Mahdi, a private-sector worker and longtime resident of the holy city. “Though masked still, it doesn’t really matter, the place is alive with movement and worshippers again.

“It’s truly a sight to behold and to see the Grand Mosque’s courtyard around the Kaaba filled with people on the first Friday after the easing of the restrictions is a sign that it’ll be alright, God-willing.”

Last Saturday, the Ministry of Interior announced the easing of restrictions across the Kingdom, including those affecting the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, which are returning to full operations and capacity.

Deputy Secretary-General for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque Dr. Saad bin Mohammed Al-Muhaimid told Arab News that the Presidency of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques had used all of their human and mechanical resources to implement the plan to return to full capacity.

FASTFACTS

• Last Saturday, the Ministry of Interior announced the easing of restrictions across the Kingdom, including those affecting the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, which are returning to full operations and capacity.

• Those working at the Two Holy Mosques had been asked to abide by and enforce the directives issued by the authorities concerned with fighting the coronavirus pandemic to ensure everyone’s safety.

“They did so through an integrated plan of capabilities and services that were harnessed to preserve the safety of the Grand Mosque’s visitors and facilitate the performance of their rites in a spiritual, safe and reassuring atmosphere,” he said.

“Based on the directives of the president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, we have accelerated the pace of work and raised the level of readiness in an effort to provide the Grand Mosque’s visitors with better services and means of comfort.

“We have also doubled our efforts since we started implementing the plan to return to full capacity while achieving the highest-quality standards.”

The deputy secretary-general said that those working at the Two Holy Mosques had been asked to abide by and enforce the directives issued by the authorities concerned with fighting the coronavirus pandemic to ensure everyone’s safety.

The ministry and authorities stressed the importance of visitors adhering to the directives included in the Interior Ministry’s statement by wearing face masks at all times inside the Grand Mosque and booking their Umrah and prayer appointments through the official applications (Eatmarna and Tawakkalna).


Saudi Arabia’s carbon-rich mangroves are key to combating climate change

Saudi Arabia’s carbon-rich mangroves are key to combating climate change
Updated 23 October 2021

Saudi Arabia’s carbon-rich mangroves are key to combating climate change

Saudi Arabia’s carbon-rich mangroves are key to combating climate change
  • Mangrove forests are vital for climate change, as highly productive and biodiversity-rich inter-tidal forests sequester carbon faster than terrestrial forests
  • Saudi Green Initiative starts on Oct. 23-24 and aims to assert the country’s work to achieve change domestically and regionally regarding climate change

JEDDAH: Plans to establish Saudi Arabia’s first national mangrove park are underway to enhance the Kingdom’s efforts in environmental protection and tourism development through vast green spaces.

The plans were announced by the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture. They are part of the ministry’s initiative to add more green spaces and national parks in the country, which currently has 27 national parks.

Mangroves are mainly found off the south-western waters in the Jizan region. They help to protect marine habitats, seagrass, coral reefs, and more from harmful runoffs from passing boats and human waste. 

They are known to residents of the Farasan Islands and Jizan as shura trees, and the area is frequented by residents and visitors all year round.

To further protect mangrove forests, the ministry planted more than 875,000 mangrove trees in the southern regions of the Red Sea coast. 

The first is in a location dubbed Bahar1 and is near the cultural village south of Jizan city where 440,000 trees were planted. There were 435,000 mangrove trees planted in Bahar2 in the town of Al-Sawarmah.

Greenhouse gases drive climate change. 

Mangrove forests are vital for climate change, as highly productive and biodiversity-rich inter-tidal forests sequester carbon faster than terrestrial forests. The more CO2 the mangroves capture, the faster the greenhouse gases are removed from the atmosphere. The distinctive ecosystems also protect shores and can help prevent direct damage in case of storms.

More than a quarter of the world’s mangroves have been lost over the past decade due to artificial intrusions.

The Saudi Green Initiative starts on Oct. 23-24 and aims to assert the country’s work to achieve change domestically and regionally regarding climate change, to build a better future, and improve the quality of life. The country has made significant efforts to protect the environment and mitigate the effects of climate change. Reducing carbon emissions is crucial to slow the impact of climate change and restore environmental balance. 

Ten billion trees will be planted throughout the Kingdom to transform the desert into green land and rehabilitate 40 million hectares of land in the upcoming decades.