Basmah bint Saud
|Basmah bint Saud|
Basmah bint Saud at Chatham House in 2013
|House||House of Saud|
|Born||1 March 1964|
Basmah bint Saud was born on 1 March 1964. She is the 115th and youngest of King Saud's children. Her mother was a Syrian-born woman, Jamila Merhi, who was chosen for her future husband when she visited Mecca on the haj (pilgrimage).
Basmah was born during the last days of her father's reign. She saw him only twice when she was five. Her mother took her to the Middle East's then-most cosmopolitan city, the Lebanese capital of Beirut. When Lebanon's civil war broke out in 1975, the family fled for Britain.
In Beirut, Basmah bint Saud attended a French school. In Britain, she attended a Hertfordshire girls' school and a College in London, before spending two years studying in Switzerland. In 2003, Basmah and her mother moved to Syria. In the same year, Basma studied medicine, psychology and English literature at Beirut Arab University.
Princess Basmah was married to a member of the Al Sharif family in 1988. They divorced in 2007. She is a mother with five children, three of whom live with her in Acton. Her children, three daughters and two sons, are Saud, Sara, Samahir, Sohood and Ahmad.
After Basmah bint Saud divorced her Saudi husband, she founded a chain of restaurants in Saudi Arabia and she is planning to expand these into Britain. In 2008, she also founded a media firm, Media Ecco, in addition to catering firms, which she is also planning to expand.
Basmah bint Saud is a mild advocate of reform. She has been an active participant of different social institutions and human rights organizations. She began to express her views on Arab and international media, writing articles on the hard life conditions of Saudis, particularly of women. However, her criticisms do not directly address the royal family but the Saudi governors and other middle-level administrators. Writing for Al Madina newspaper in April 2010, Basmah bint Saud told that she could not find any Qur'anic or Islamic historical basis for a state institution to promote virtue and prevent vice, and she further argued that the arrests and beatings by religious policemen lead to an incorrect impression about Islam. She specifically supports reform in Saudi Islamic laws regarding bans on mixed gatherings of men and women, and to make optional for Muslim women to cover modestly or not.
Her journalism and blogging has drawn criticism, and she told The Independent that Saudi officials had begun censoring her articles. On the other hand, she insisted that her move from Jeddah to Acton was not due to pressure from the Saudi state. Basmah bint Saud has questioned the misuse of the Islamic fiqh in Saudi society, arguing that the religious establishment needs to be reformed in order that it plays a constructive role in modernising society and improving the situation of women in the kingdom.
On 8 April 2012, Basmah bint Saud told BBC that there are many changes she would like to see in Saudi Arabia - but that is not the time for women to be allowed to drive. And she called for changes concerning constitution, divorce laws, overhaul of the educational system, complete reform of social services and changes in the role of the mahram (the male guardian that all Saudi women are required to have as the state considers them legal minor their entire lives - usually a male relative).
Upon the paralysing of a Saudi national as a punishment by the Kingdom, Princess Basmah criticised it, stating that it cannot be acceptable on humanitarian grounds.
Princess Basma said that there is a gang wanted to blackmail her and transfer for them an amount of £320,000 to a bank account in Egypt. The threat was a to publish a visual materials showing her smoking and blowing a kiss in front of a PC camera without a Veil on her head. Basma said that the material was stolen from her personal PC. However, she published the recording of conversation between her and the blackmailer on her YouTube official website. She said in Saudi Arabia it is inappropriate that women appear without a hijab or smoking in public.
- "Biography". Basmah bint Saud. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- Admon, Y. "First Signs of Protest by Sunnis in Saudi Arabia". MEMRI. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- Milmo, Cahal (3 January 2012). "The Acton princess calling for reform in Saudi Arabia". The Independent. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- "Meet Princess Basma, the 115th child of King Saud". Malasia Chronicle. 15 October 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- Mendick, Robert (17 February 2013). "The Saudi princess, the fake sheikh and a plot to silence her". The Telegraph. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- "King Saud's Sons and Daughters". King Saud.net. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- Admon, Y. (4 April 2012). "First Signs of Protest by Sunnis in Saudi Arabia" (INQUIRY AND ANALYSIS SERIES REPORT NO.819). MEMRI. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- "Saudi Arabia. Looser Rein, Uncertain Gain" (PDF). Human Rights Watch. 2010. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- "Princess Basma bint Saud bin Abdulaziz leads campaign of Saudi dissent". Acton w3. 3 January 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
- "Princess Basma bint Saud Fredom". Memri. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
- "Saudi princess: What I'd change about my country". BBC. 8 April 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- "Princess condemns Saudi Arabia paralysis sentence". BBC. 5 April 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
- "Saudi princess blackmailed by fake sheikh who wants £320,000 for video which shows her smoking and blowing a kiss with head uncovered". dailymail. 17 February 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "The Saudi princess, the fake sheikh and a plot to silence her". telegraph. 17 February 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.