Saying farewell to Washington

November 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

For over five years, I have had the honor of serving as Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United States. It has truly been a privilege to serve my country and even though the work has at times been demanding, it has at the same time been very interesting and rewarding. Whether I have been meeting government or civic leaders, entrepreneurs or students, I have been touched by the sincerity, kindness and hospitality of the American people.

My farewell is filled with mixed emotions. I am looking forward to my return to Bahrain which I have really missed but at the same time, it is really hard to bid farewell to the many friends and colleagues who have, in so many ways, enriched my life.

I will take this opportunity to express my sincerest thanks and appreciation for your cooperation and partnership, which undoubtedly helped to further enhance the strong ties between our two nations.

It would be nearly impossible to recall my favorite moments from my time in the United States. In my five years here, I have visited nearly 20 states and have many great stories to tell. Particularly memorable were the times I spent speaking to college and high school students interested in learning more about the world around them. At a time when it has never been more important to build bridges between the United States and the Arab World, it was refreshing to speak with so many young people fueled by a desire to look beyond their own borders to make a difference.

Throughout my time here, I have spent a great deal of time speaking with members of Congress, diplomats, civil society, and thought leaders here in Washington. We have had many frank conversations, but all were infused with the deep connection our two countries share going back over a hundred years. The Bahraini-American bilateral relationship remains a cornerstone of stability and security in the Arabian Gulf and I leave knowing that this deep and abiding partnership will remain strong under the dedicated leadership of our new Ambassador, H.E. Sh. Abdulla Al Khalifa.

Celebrating Bahraini Banks at the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings

October 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the Banks in Bahrain Evening Reception on the sidelines of the annual World/IMF Meetings at the Fairmont Hotel. The distinguished guest list matched Bahrain’s reputation as an international financial center and demonstrated Bahrain’s position as the leading market entry point for banks to do business in the Arabian Gulf.

Bahrain’s financial sector has proven resilient in the face of global financial turmoil and political unrest. This resiliency is a testament to the hard work Bahrainis have put in over the past several decades to make our country hospitable for foreign investment and economic growth. This will continue to be important as we work to expand our already considerable foothold in the expanding field of Islamic finance. I look forward to exploring these issues further at the upcoming World Islamic Banking Conference, which will take place in Bahrain in early December.

Banking and finance are critical components of Bahrain’s long term economic diversification strategy and already accounts for nearly 25 percent of Bahrain’s gross domestic product. I was very pleased with the great turnout we had on Saturday.

A statement in response to President Obama’s speech at UNGA

September 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Yesterday, as I listened to President Obama deliver his speech at the 68th session of the General Assembly, I was disappointed to hear him compare the situation in Bahrain to that of the current situation in Iraq and the unfolding tragedies in Syria. Notwithstanding the efforts of some groups to reframe what is at the core a political debate, Bahrain’s government has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to resolve differences within its society peacefully through dialogue and without preconditions. The president’s statement does not reflect Bahrain’s well known history as a progressive outpost in the Middle East and the progress we have made in responding to the events of February and March 2011.

Over its history, Bahrain has provided unparalleled opportunities to its citizens regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion. This is not a well-worn public relations cliché, but the reality that thousands of Bahrainis live every day. In no other county in the Middle East is my story – that of a Jewish woman who rose on her merits to the highest levels of civil society – even possible. I have the privilege of serving my country precisely because Bahrain is a place where hard work and ingenuity provide an equality of opportunity.

At the same time, Bahrain’s program of reform is not complete and we remain committed to making Bahrain a better place for all its citizens. I serve with a number of outstanding public servants committed to this noble goal, and we should not allow a violent, vocal minority to reverse the social, economic and political progress we have made thus far under the leadership of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

As a country, we are committed to moving forward. Making such a false equivalence only serves to obfuscate this important work.

Twelve Years Since 9/11

September 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

It is difficult to believe that twelve years have passed since the horrific attacks that took nearly 3,000 lives on September 11, 2001. The legacy of this tragedy remains indelibly inscribed on the conscience of the world.
Confronting and defeating violent extremism remains an urgent priority for the entire world. This endeavor remains difficult, but the Kingdom of Bahrain is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder in it with our friend and ally the United States.
Our unity of purpose and the strength of our resolve honor the memories of those who perished, and my thoughts remain with the families of the victims.

The Return of F1 to Bahrain in 2014

September 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Yesterday, I was delighted to read that Bahrain would be hosting the fifth event on the Formula One Grand Prix schedule in 2014. Next year’s race will mark the 10 year anniversary of the first Grand Prix to be held in Bahrain – which was also the first event held in the Middle East. The Bahrain International Circuit is currently undergoing considerable renovations to mark this occasion and to ensure the track is prepared to host a nighttime race.

Every year, the Bahrain Grand Prix offers a great opportunity for all Bahrainis to come together in celebration of a common achievement for our country. The event also provides immeasurable economic and social benefits for business, hotels, and restaurants who cater to the fans who travel to Bahrain from all over the world to attend.

Politics should never interfere in sport, and I deeply believe that the Grand Prix can play an important role in national reconciliation. It is sometimes easy to lose track of the fact that, despite many difficulties we have faced as a country, Bahrain remains one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East – and we have a great deal to offer the world. I am eagerly anticipating being able to attend.

Establishing the Arab Court of Human Rights in Bahrain

September 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

On Monday, the Arab League finalized its decision establishing the headquarters of the Arab Court of Human Rights in Bahrain. This important initiative builds upon His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s ongoing commitment to expanding human rights and basic human liberties in Bahrain and across the Arab World. In fact, His Majesty was the driving force behind the Court’s creation in November 2011, when he argued that its establishment would represent an important step to keep pace with the aspirations of the Arab people.

The pan-Arab court is being hailed as a consolidation of human rights culture in the Arab world. It is a major stride on the right path to disseminate and protect human rights in the region, and in staying on the same track as other developed nations which boast significant progress in this field.

Bahrain has a firm resolve to spare no effort for the court to achieve its goals and promote the protection of human rights in the Arab World. It will operate under the framework of the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which has been ratified by the Arab states, including Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The charter was adopted by the Arab League in 2004, has been in force since March 2008, and affirms the principles contained in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam.

Iftar Dinners at the White House and the State Department

July 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last night I attended the White House’s annual Iftar in celebration of the Holy Month of Ramadan. Although this yearly tradition began during President Clinton’s term in office, Thomas Jefferson actually hosted the first White House Iftar in 1805.

The White House Iftar provides a great opportunity to bring the American Muslim community together with a broad cross-section of American political, religious, and cultural leaders.

This year, it was a particular pleasure to join a number of my friends from the Washington Diplomatic Corps and several members of Congress whom I have gotten to know throughout my time here.

President Obama made a short speech as well, which I felt was a great tribute to the Holy Month and to the role Muslims have played in American history. I have embedded the speech below.

Earlier this week, I also had the occasion to join Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department’s annual Iftar. If you’re interested, I have embedded a video of his remarks below.