Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud
Unless you are from Saudi Arabia, many people are not aware of the significant role some of the members of the Royal Saudi family play – especially the women. One of these extraordinary women is Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud. Not only does she fulfil her royal duties, but she is also a former CEO, social activist, entrepreneur and a single mother.
Princess Reema, 40, lives in Riyadh in a gated compound with her teenage children, her parents and her brothers and sisters. Having spent most of her childhood in America due to her father being Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador there, Reema didn’t officially move back to Saudi Arabia until 2006. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Museum studies from George Washington University and married Prince Faisal bin Turki Nasser bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, but they divorced in 2012.
Riyadh’s Harvey Nichols, a luxurious department store is where Princess Reema’s real passion and career began. Her parents owned the store’s parent company – Alfa Intl – and it was here that Reema became the first female CEO of a retail company. She campaigned for the hiring of female employees and managed to start changing the way Saudi’s looked at the retail industry, especially when it came to females in the workplace. Eventually, she decided she wanted to make an even bigger change to women in the workplace, so she stepped down as CEO in 2014 and launched the social enterprise, Alf Khair, which means ‘one thousand blessings’ in Arabic. Through Alf Khair, Alf Darb was born – a training academy for women who want to enter the workforce.
In Saudi Arabia, many diseases are diagnosed in women too late, as it is still seen as taboo to have an illness and many women do not talk about it or go and visit their doctor until it is too late. In conjunction with this fact and a good friend of hers passing away from breast cancer, she helped a doctor named Suad bin Amer found the Zahra Breast Cancer Association. Princess Reema believed the key to making a difference and encouraging women to get checked and tested was through education, so Zahra representatives started traveling to shopping malls with portable rooms where women could go and chat with professionals. From there, 10KSA was born, which was a breast cancer awareness campaign that aimed to bring 10,000 women together in Riyadh to form the World’s Largest Humanitarian Ribbon on the 12th December, 2015. Princess Reema and associated doctors were successful with the campaign and have gone on to make a difference to many lives of Saudi women.
Princess Reema is a woman to be admired. She has made a difference in the lives of thousands of Saudi women and will undoubtedly continue to do so.