Although Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel of Saudi Arabia is a controversial figure, she is nonetheless our #WCW for May because of her dedication to philanthropy and inspiring sense of personal style. Her journey holds intense fascination for people the world over, primarily because she has used her position of power to contravene social and religious norms in the Middle East.
Princess Ameerah is notable for her refusal to wear a hijab – although she does dress modestly – and the fact that she divorced her husband Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal after only two years. However, she and her former husband remain close friends to this day, and they have both spoken positively to the press about their respectful mentor-like relationship.
The story goes that Princess Ameera and Prince Al-Waleed met when she was 18 and he was 31, and they hit it off immediately. Al-Waleed – who supports women’s rights – was quick to let his new, young bride pursue her passion for humanitarian causes, appointing her to the position of Vice Chairperson and Head of the Executive Committee of Alwaleed bin Talal Foundation in Saudi Arabia.
The eloquent and compassionate princess made a deep impact through her role as Vice Chairperson, using her voice to champion women’s civil rights, like the right to drive and retain custody of one’s children after divorce. Chelsea Clinton, the Vice Chairperson of the Clinton Foundation, stated publicly, “Ameerah’s advocacy on behalf of Saudi women has provided a tremendous contribution to how we think about the rights of girls and women around the world.”
As Vice Chairperson of the Alwaleed bin Talal Foundation, Princess Ameerah is tasked with overseeing its myriad of support programs – from disaster relief and interfaith dialogue to poverty alleviation and women’s empowerment. Additionally, she has personally traveled to Pakistan to help flood victims, to Burkina Faso to establish an orphanage, and to Somalia on a relief mission.
Princess Ameerah isn’t working to put a band-aid on massive issues like poverty; instead, she is working to solve the crises at their roots. “You need to also teach people how to manage their finances. Instead of feeding them fish, we need to teach them how to fish. That’s a big problem. We partner with specialized people and organizations, but it has to be a deep and long-term solution for a huge problem. Those are our conditions,” she told Arabian Business.
Her work was recognized in 2011 when she received the Humanitarian Award for her efforts at the foundation. She was also fourth on the CEO Middle East’s list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Women” in 2012, and won the Woman Personality of the Year Award from the Middle East Excellence Awards Institute.
Although she has dedicated her life to helping others, Princess Ameerah has also captured public interest through her fashion choices. While the princess favors high-end labels like Chanel, her polished and conservative ensembles have landed her on many best-dressed lists. Below, Savoir Flair rounds up some of her best looks, which provide a diverse range of styles from traditional longline kaftans to lace tea dresses.