ALULA: Fresh off her sold-out concert on Friday at The Maraya Concert Hall in AlUla, singer-songwriter Alicia Keys joined Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud, the first female Saudi ambassador to the US, and a group of other creative Saudi women in an intimate conversation under the theme “Women to Women.”
The off-the-record dialogue, hosted by Good Intentions, a newly launched Saudi-based creative consultancy, was held in a town hall style, where audience members asked questions, made comments and interacted with the panel. It felt like an extension of Friday’s super-hit show.
Acknowledging the forum’s location at Madrasat Addeera, AlUla’s first art and design center, Keys told the attendees how excited she was to learn from the Saudi women at the table — and those beyond in the audience.
“I’m here to learn and I would love for you to teach me and continue to be allies together. We are all very special and very important in this room and nobody is more important than anybody else. We are all at the same level,” Keys told the audience.
Princess Reema said: “Many of the women that you see, whether they are on the stage or perhaps seated to your right or left, are women of a generation that were born of women of a generation that were told ‘no.’
“Those of us that insisted on a ‘no’ being a ‘yes’ filled in cracks, filled in corners, filled in holes and we stuffed ourselves anywhere that we couldn’t find somebody else to stuff themselves into. So we look like we have crazy CVs. We look like we’ve had erratic career paths — but it’s not erratic. The singular unifier of all of us is the fact that we needed another woman to support us and fill the space — but we couldn’t find her.”
Saudi women from all different backgrounds spoke up, expressed their opinions, asked questions and shared knowledge.
“If you were not inspired, be the one that inspires. If you did not have a mentor, be the mentor. If you didn’t have the resources but have access to them, give them. Because your generosity and your kindness of spirit is what is going to make the community we all deserve. And that is how women to women transfer of power happens and that is how men recognize that when they create a space for us, magic happens,” Princess Reema said.
Keys’ husband, Grammy award-winning producer Kasseem Daoud Dean, known professionally as Swizz Beatz, said: “We feel confident that Saudi Arabia is exactly the right place for the headquarters of our new creative consultancy. We’re ready to go full force with Good Intentions and collaborate with the powerful creative talent in the region,” he told Arab News exclusively.
The AlUla concert was presented by Good Intentions, co-founded by Dean.
The agency aims to amplify the voices of women across the Kingdom, with the AlUla town hall being just the first step in that direction.
Perhaps the most simple yet thoughtful solution came from Saudi actress Fatima Al-Banawi, who said: “Never, never give up. And always support one another with no hidden agenda.”