H.R.H. Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud

H.R.H. Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud speaks about the future of Saudi Arabia at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Jan. 25, 2018. 

The Colorado Business Roundtable will host an online discussion on women's rights around the world with a panel of women in the state's government, academia, business and philanthropy on July 8.

The teleconference with Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud is at noon. Register by clicking here.

Princess Reema is the ambassador to the U.S., sent to rehabilitate the country's image in the West last year after the killing of a Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, at the hands of men then employed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The princess grew up in Washington — her father, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was a Saudi ambassador from 1983 to 2005 — and attended George Washington University there.

She replaced Prince Khalid bin Salman Al Saud, the crown prince’s brother who was suspected of making the call to Khashoggi to lure him to the consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, where he was killed and dismembered.

Princess Reema is viewed on the international stage as key to the royal family's plan to modernize Saudi society.

Described as a celebrity in her country, the princess is the first woman to serve as the Saudi ambassador to any country. Among her previous duties, she served as vice president for development and planning for the Saudi Arabian General Sports Authority.

Given the country's history of human rights abuses, particularly toward women, and its tenuous relationship, at times, with the U.S., Princess Reema was expected to face a difficult challenge to gain moral authority in the United States.

“Everyone has the right to their own opinion, and I would like to be judged on the quality of my work,” she told Politico last October, soon after taking up residence at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington. “I am not here with bubble wrap, and I would be offended if I was treated with kid gloves.”

Since the crown prince came to power in 2017, the kingdom has loosened government restrictions on women traveling alone, granting them passports and travel abroad without approval from male guardians, among the reforms.

"Under the male guardianship system, a man controls a Saudi woman’s life from her birth until her death," Human Rights Watch wrote last year. "Every Saudi woman must have a male guardian, normally a father or husband, but in some cases a brother or even a son, who has the power to make a range of critical decisions on her behalf.

"The Saudi state essentially treats women as permanent legal minors. Saudi Arabia has done very little to end the system, which remains the most significant impediment to women’s rights in the country."

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