Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet has this week appointed Princess Reema bin Bandar to head a new department for women under the Kingdom’s General Authority for Sports in a move signalling greater female access to sports. Following the announcement made after the weekly Cabinet session this week, Princess Reema bin Bandar said “I am honoured to serve my nation”.
The Kingdom is also sending four female athletes to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, marking the second time that Saudi women will participate in the Olympics. These sportswomen include marathon runner Sarah Al-Attar, judoka Wujud Fahmi, fencer Lubna Al-Omair and 100m runner Cariman Abu Al-Jadail. Both Attar and Fahmi were returning to the Games after they became the country’s first female Olympians in London four years ago.
Princess Reema, whose father Prince Bandar bin Sultan served as Saudi ambassador to Washington for more than two decades until 2005, is a graduate of George Washington University with a degree specializing in museum studies, Islamic art and architecture. In the Kingdom, she is widely known for having served as chief executive officer of the upscale Harvey Nichols department store in the capital, Riyadh, which was among the first retailers to hire women as sales clerks.