Saudi Arabia names first woman envoy to Washington
RIYADH - Saudi Arabia on Saturday named a princess as its first woman ambassador to the United States.
Princess Rima bint Bandar replaces Prince Khalid bin Salman, the younger brother of the powerful crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Prince Khalid was appointed vice defence minister in a flurry of late-night royal decrees announced on state media.
Princess Rima, the daughter of a former long-time ambassador to the US, has been a leading advocate for female empowerment in the kingdom.
The princess previously worked at the kingdom's General Sports Authority, where she led a campaign to increase women's participation in sports.
"Princess Rima becomes the first female ambassador in Saudi history and the first female with a rank of minister -- a strong signal to the integration of women into the government and workforce," Ali Shihabi, founder of the pro-Saudi think-tank Arabia Foundation, said on Twitter.
Prince Khalid, a son of the king had served as ambassador to Washington since 2017.
A former Saudi air force pilot, he takes his new post in Riyadh a year after the crown prince -- who also serves as the defence minister -- announced a military reform plan and a dramatic overhaul of top defence commanders.
Princess Reema had lived in the US during her father's over 20 years as the Saudi ambassador to Washington. Her father also served later as the head of the country's intelligence service.
"I will work with God's permission to serve my country, its leaders and all its children and I will spare no effort to that end," Princess Reema wrote on Twitter after her appointment.
Princess Reema will lead Saudi diplomatic efforts in Washington to overcome the fallout from the murder of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi last October in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and ensure continued US support to the Saudi-led Arab coalition military campaign in Yemen against Iran-backed rebels.
A separate royal decree on Saturday ordered a one-month salary bonus for frontline military officials on the kingdom's southern border