Harris School welcomes Saudi PrinceBy Rob McManamy
Seeking to promote greater understanding between cultures and to learn more about American views of his country, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, the new Saudi Ambassador to the United States, will visit the University later this month, as a guest of the Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy Studies.
“The Harris School is delighted to host His Royal Highness, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, during his visit to the University of Chicago,” said Susan Mayer, Dean of the Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy. “In addition to addressing students, he will speak to the Harris School’s Visiting Committee and members of the Dean’s International Council. This event provides a wonderful opportunity to improve understanding between our nations. Promoting such understanding is a crucial aspect of the Harris School’s mission and we are grateful that His Royal Highness will be visiting.”
Prince Turki’s visit to Chicago is a key part of a spring “listening tour” that he embarked on earlier this month, which will take him throughout the United States to meet with Americans and field their questions about Saudi Arabia and its place in the global community.
His one-hour talk, entitled “A Reflection on My First 100 Days as Ambassador,” is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Friday, April 21, at the Oriental Institute. Those interested in attending should register at http://harrisschool.uchicago.edu/events/rsvp-dev042106.asp
“The American people have a great thirst for information and knowledge, not just about Saudi Arabia as a geographic entity, but about Saudi people, culture and history,” said Prince Turki. “Everywhere I have visited, I have been greeted very warmly, which is a testament to the longstanding friendship Saudi Arabia and the United States share.”
In December, Prince Turki officially presented his diplomatic credentials to President Bush at the White House. The act ceremonially confirmed him as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States of America. At the time, he said his aim was “to further strengthen the historic ties between our two nations as we confront global challenges together.”
Those ties already had grown increasingly stronger during the successful tenure of his predecessor, Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Appointed ambassador to the United States in September 1983, Bandar spent nearly 22 years in the Washington diplomatic corps, growing in stature and influence as the Saudi envoy to four separate U.S. presidents and playing a key role during both Gulf wars.
During those years, Prince Turki served as director general of the Saudi foreign intelligence service, a post he filled from 1977 to 2001. Prior to that, he had studied extensively in the United States and attended Georgetown University before being appointed as an advisor to the Royal Court of Saudi Arabia in 1973. Born in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, Prince Turki is the youngest son of the late King Faisal.
In 2003, the diplomatic stage of his professional career began when he was appointed to be the Kingdom’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Ireland, where he served until his new posting was announced last summer.
Now his nation’s envoy to its most powerful ally, Prince Turki does not take his position lightly. As he told business leaders in Washington earlier this year, “The United States and Saudi Arabia share a responsibility to promote understanding where none exists, broker peace where it has been seldom seen, and strengthen our own common bonds of friendship and cooperation.”