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Princess Reema, Saudi Ambassador to USA, denounces decision of opposing WTA Finals in Kingdom

RIYADH: Princess Reema bint Bandar, the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States, expressed her disappointment with the decision that opposed the Women’s Tennis Association Finals in Saudi Arabia, asserting that it undermines the strides made by Saudi women in sports.

Her response was prompted by a critical opinion piece in The Washington Post, which raised concerns about the country’s commitment to gender equality.

Princess Reema stressed that sports should not be exploited for personal biases or agendas, and it should not be used to penalize a society eager to embrace tennis and contribute to its growth.

In her statement, she argued against the failure to recognize the significant progress made by women in Saudi Arabia, stating that it diminishes their “remarkable journey.” She lamented the disappointment felt by many women globally, as legendary tennis figures, often seen as trailblazers and role models, turned their backs on those they have inspired.

Princess Reema presented statistics, highlighting that Saudi women own over 300,000 businesses, with approximately 25 percent involved in small and mid-size start-ups—a percentage comparable to that in the US.

Women in Saudi Arabia now have opportunities in traditionally male-dominated sectors, including the military, firefighting, law enforcement, and even space exploration, she noted.

She emphasized that women in the country receive equal pay, which is not a universal norm. While acknowledging ongoing work, Princess Reema underscored recent progress in women’s engagement in the workforce and the creation of social and cultural opportunities for them.

In the realm of sports, Saudi Arabia has witnessed significant advancements, including the establishment of women’s sports leagues and federations.

The country boasts over 330,000 registered female athletes, with 14,000 actively participating in tennis. Thousands of women serve as coaches, mentors, referees, and sports doctors in various capacities.

Princess Reema asserted that portraying Saudi women as voiceless victims not only undermines their progress in sports but also detracts from the broader advancements made by women in the country.

She dismissed claims that guardianship laws in the Kingdom restricted women’s freedom, refuting the belief that women needed male guardian approval for travel, work, or heading households.

Princess Reema emphasized the need for accurate information and called for a “healthy debate” on women’s progress, urging inclusive dialogue to avoid ill-informed criticism.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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