Saudi women take up more high-profile diplomatic positions

Lawyer appointed as political affairs officer at the Secretary-General of the UN

Jood Al Harthi is the first Saudi women to be appointed as political affairs officer in the Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres. SPA
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Saudi Arabian lawyer Jood Al Harthi is the first woman to be appointed as political affairs officer at the Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the UN in New York.

She joins a growing line of women diplomats who have taken on leading roles abroad for the kingdom.

Having worked at the UN for the past three years, Ms Al Harthi also worked at the secretary general's Rule of Law Unit for almost a year. Earlier, she worked in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, and the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund in Central Asia, South Asia and Europe.

Ms Al Harthi has also co-chaired the Peace and Security Pillar Anti-Racism Action Group.

“I am pleased to share that I have joined the executive office as a political affairs officer. I am looking forward to supporting the high-level strategic plans and decision-making that are the United Nations' three pillars across the international community,” Ms Al Harthi said.

She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in law from Swansea University in Wales and then achieved a master’s degree in law from SOAS University of London.

Before her recent post, Ms Al Harthi worked in international law firms in London and Dubai.

In her new position, she will be working in areas covering peace, climate, women and youth empowerment, conflict and information management.

Female diplomacy

The announcement is “an extension of the empowerment of Saudi women and confidence in their capabilities,” Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Sunday.

Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the US, attends the annual Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh on October 25, 2022.  AFP

So far five Saudi women represent the kingdom as ambassadors.

Princess Reema bint Bandar became Saudi Arabia’s first female ambassador when she was chosen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to become the kingdom’s ambassador to the US in 2019.

Her father, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, held that position from 1983 to 2005.

Princess Reema previously worked as the vice president of women’s affairs and served as the deputy of planning and development for the Saudi General Sports Authority.

In 2021, Inas Al Shahwan was appointed as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Sweden and Iceland.

Previously, she worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she was the adviser to the deputy foreign minister for political affairs and the first Saudi woman to hold a department manager position at the ministry.

Saudi Arabia Women's Training Institute on Wednesday saw the graduation of 255 female Saudi recruits. Ministry of Interior, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia / @security_gov / Twitter

In 2020, Amal Al Moallimi was appointed as the kingdom's ambassador to Norway. She was the assistant secretary general at Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Centre for National Dialogue and worked at the Saudi Human Rights Commission in 2019.

This year, Haifa Al Jadea was appointed as ambassador and head of the kingdom’s mission to the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community.

Ms Al Jadea previously worked at the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre and represented the kingdom at the UN Security Council.

Nisreen bint Hamad Al Shibel was appointed as the kingdom's ambassador to Finland this month. She took her oath in front of King Salman.

“I extend my thanks and gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and to His Highness the Crown Prince — may God protect them — for the generous trust. I pray to the Almighty that I fulfil their expectations and to help me perform my work to the fullest extent. I also thank His Highness the Minister of Foreign Affairs for his support of the employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” she wrote on Twitter.

Updated: January 16, 2023, 1:19 PM
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