Saudi Embassy Spokeswoman: ‘The Kingdom is not Easternizing or Westernizing, it’s Modernizing’

The first spokeswoman for the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Fatimah Baeshen, said in an interview that the Kingdom is not sacrificing culture or values with its Vision 2030 economic and social reform program and that the program has “something for everyone” in Saudi Arabia.

The well-spoken Baeshen, who was appointed by Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States HRH Prince Khaled bin Salman, is the first woman to be appointed as a spokesperson for the Saudi Embassy in Washington. She was appointed on the same day that Saudi Arabia announced that women would be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia starting in June 2018.

Fatimah Baeshen.

Fatimah Baeshen.

Baeshen told NBC Washington that when she met the Ambassador to discuss the position, he wanted her to know she was being hired on merit, not because she was a woman. “When I got the phone call and met with the ambassador…he immediately told me you’re not here because you’re a woman,” she said.”

Prior to her appointment as Embassy spokesperson, she served as a director at the Arabia Foundation, a Saudi-funded think tank based in Washington. She has also held positions at Aon, the Islamic Development Bank, the World Bank, Emirates Foundation for Youth Development, and the Saudi Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Economy and Planning, according to her biography.

Baeshen is U.S.-educated, having obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst and her Master of Arts at the University of Chicago’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, where she wrote her thesis on Islamic Finance Regulation in Secular Markets.

[Click here to watch the interview video on NBC Washington]