First female ambassador as Saudis seek to soften image

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Saudi Arabia on Saturday appointed Princess Reema bint Bandar al-Saud to the post of ambassador to the United States.

Mrs May joined King Salman for the EU-League of Arab States Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh where she planned to urge him to use his influence to encourage Yemeni parties towards peace amid the Kingdom's strained relationship with the West. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was absent from the summit.

Princess Reema, whose father Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud held the post from 1983 until 2005, grew up in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in museum studies from George Washington University.

Princess Reema bint Bandar, ex-chief of Saudi multi-sports federation, is a graduate in museology from a USA university.

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Reema has worked for Saudi Arabia's General Sports Authority and as the chief executive of Alfa International, a luxury retail company.

Saudi Arabia denies that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had any involvement in his death - a claim the USA intelligence community has cast doubt on.

Her Royal Highness is the first female ambassador from Saudi Arabia to any country.

The U.S. Treasury sanctioned 17 Saudis in October over the Khashoggi murder, and more recently the Congress has pushed to blame the crown prince for the killing and end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

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Prince Mohammed, who controls most levels of power in the country, has been defence minister since 2015 when his father ascended the throne. According to a Washington Post report, he abruptly left the October past year as the kingdom began to be pressed over its varying explanations for Khashoggi's disappearance, and did not return until December.

Prince Khalid, a son of the king who served as ambassador since 2017, had been expected to leave Washington for some time - particularly after the global outcry over Khashoggi tarnished the kingdom's reputation. She will now be key to that alliance as previous ambassadors have been. She has been active in numerous campaigns to increase the role of Saudi women in professional spaces as well as increasing access to physical education for women in schools.

In a speech to Tory activists the PM said, as her negotiations with the European Union reach their final stages, the "worst thing we could do is lose our focus".

This is another step in the right direction for Saudi Arabia.

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He finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists while shooting 6-of-11 from the field. But at the end of the day, we want him to be happy and we want what's best for him.

Another royal decree from King Salman overnight granted a month's salary as a bonus to Saudi soldiers defending the kingdom's southern border with Yemen, where the Houthis have launched a series of bloody attacks. Only recently were women allowed to drive.