Working with a princess could seem to some as a daunting task, but Princess Reema Bindt Bandar al Saud has none of the princess behaviour that popular prejudices might lead one to expect. With her enviable work ethic and a leadership style that empowers her team members to take control, you would take her for a high powered CEO - if her name did not give her away.
I met Princess Reema in 2014 during a leadership course. She had witnessed our Brand Thinking Canvas in action and commissioned us to design a Self Branding Toolkit for Alf Darb, her social enterprise which trains women who want to join the workforce in Saudi Arabia. A long term collaboration was born. In the past two and a half years I've traveled to Saudi Arabia several times, each time finding proof that as people, there are many more things that we have in common than things that divide us.
Princess Reema grew up in the US, where her father was the ambassador of Saudi Arabia. She majored in museum studies, interned at L’institute du Monde Arabe in Paris and managed her mothers extensive 'material culture' collection of Saudi artefacts. When that collection was brought back to Saudi-Arabia, Princess Reema returned with it and found a newfound purpose: to help create a Saudi Arabia where people are its biggest natural resource. She is realising her vision through her social enterprises Alf Khair, Alf Darb and 10KSA, a breast cancer awareness organisation that reached the Guiness World Record last year for the largest human ribbon formed by thousands of women in Riyadh.
Working with Princess Reema has put us in the extraordinary position to witness her at work in a country that is slowly opening up opportunities for women in the workforce. Through her social enterprise Alf Darb, Princess Reema is preparing a new generation of women for a fulfilling career. Working on location with Alf Darb’s team and their participants was a moving experience I will never forget (as written up in this blogpost). It came as no surprise to me that Princess Reema was announced one of Fastcompany’s most creative people of 2014.
This year, she has put her involvement with Alf Darb on hold, as she was offered the opportunity of a lifetime: to be the chef d’equipe of the Saudi women’s delegation to the Rio Olympic Games. The team of Saudi female athletes may not have won medals, but they have succeeded in every single goal they set out to achieve: to compete with contagious enjoyment, to show their fellow countrymen that they represent their country with honour and to show the world that Islamic female athletes belong to the world of sports just like any other culture and religion.
We can't wait to see where Princess Reema will go next.
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