The very model of a modern Arab diplomat: Prince Khaled bin Bandar bin Sultan
If French is the traditional language of diplomacy, it seems appropriate that Prince Khaled was born in Paris and, we understand, proudly retains his links to the French state. Indeed you might be forgiven for thinking that his appointment as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s eighth ambassador to the United Kingdom in April this year, was a natural culmination of Khaled bin Bandar’s education, family background and marriage, as well as his career in business. With apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan, he is the very model of a modern Arab diplomat.
Prince Khaled’s education and early career includes an impressive number of ticks in an elite list of boxes: Eton, Oxford, Sandhurst, the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy in the US, a stint at the United Nations and then three years as an adviser to the then Saudi ambassador in Washington. It is hard to think of a more thorough grooming process for a future diplomat.
Even without all that, there is a long tradition of diplomatic appointments in his branch of the Al Saud family. His father Prince Bandar was arguably one of the architects of the close US-Saudi relationship, serving as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington for over 20 years. Khaled’s uncle Turki al-Faisal was also ambassador to the UK from 2003 to 2005. And shortly before his own appointment, Khaled’s sister Reema bint Bandar was appointed as the ambassador to the US, the first female envoy in Saudi Arabia’s history.
Moreover, in his marriage to Lucy Cuthbert, niece of the Duke of Northumberland, Prince Khaled has forged close links to the British aristocracy, which will no doubt serve him well as he looks to work the inner circles of the UK establishment.
In his 30s Khaled managed to find time for a successful business career, setting up a security services company and later forming a number of joint ventures in Saudi Arabia, including Hertz Dayim with the US car hire operator, and Punj Lloyd, a collaboration with the Indian oil & gas services company. His investments are not limited to Saudi Arabia; based on our research, he also holds real estate investments in the UAE (Byblos Properties LLC).
Dayim Holding Company remains Khaled’s primary investment vehicle, and intriguingly its board of directors includes Wafic Said’s nephew Rida Hassan Said and Edward Spencer Churchill, a son of the late Duke of Marlborough.
If the definition of diplomacy is managing international relationships, Prince Khaled is a past master.
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