Princess Reema bint Bandar spoke to an audience at Chatham House about how sports will hopefully propel Saudi Arabia to economic prosperity.
“Sport impacts every industry sector across the board and it will draw in crowds globally,” she said.
Princess Reema also spoke of how women are embracing athletics as the country lifts its restrictions on their participation in sports. Recently, women weren’t allowed to attend football matches, work out in a gym, play sports or take gym classes at school.
“I’ve encouraged women to go out on the streets and into the public parks to exercise. I’ve been telling women they don’t need permission to exercise in public, they don’t need permission to activate their own sports programs. And more and more they are doing it.”
Princess Reema is the of the Saudi Federation for Community Sport and the Vice President for Development and Planning at the Saudi Arabian General Sports Authority. She is the first woman to hold the post.
“The choices that women have today are greater than yesterday and every day they will grow more,” said the Princess.
Among the several tasks under her purview, Princess Reema told the audience she was looking into licensing women’s gyms and estimates that this will create 4,000 jobs for women, not including trainers and other indirect jobs.
“I am building an entire sports ecosystem: from the athletes, to the female ushers, and security guards, we’re going from the micro to the macro to the triple macro,” said the Princess.
Princess Reema is a staunch advocate for women’s rights, and in 2014 was placed on Forbes magazine’s lists of the 200 Most Powerful Arab Women, and Most Powerful Women in Saudi Arabia.
She was also recognized in 2014 for encouraging women to work, saying that the “second a woman is responsible for her own finances, she’ll want to explore more of the world for herself and become less dependent.”