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Interview: Haifa Al-Dakhil, the first diplomat in the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs

By: Sultan Al Masoud

Her sobriety, intelligence, persistence, and determination, made her a brilliant name among the Kingdom’s women who achieved impressive success; Haifa Al-Dakhil was the first diplomat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs … and one of the most influential women in society.

Haifa Al-Dakhil started work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2003; until 2017, she became the first Saudi diplomat to accredit the United Nations, Leaders Magazine sat down with Haifa Bint Saleh Al-Dakhil, who was honored by the Arab Development Union, within (100) Arab personalities, for her distinguished role in development. Sustainable, creating bridges of common international relations.

We currently live in the era of empowering women, according to the Saudi 2030 vision. Where is this stage going?

I see that Saudi women will not pass better than this era, at all levels, as well as the people, because when a woman is happy she delights, and raises more generations.

Women in Saudi Arabia were demanding justice and not equality, now, the Saudi state took women hand and gave them all their rights, which were approved by Islam.

How do you see the scale of the changes and the accelerating events in society?

This is what suits the era of speed that we are now living in order to keep pace with the renewed world, and we will be in the best condition; the situation that we would have been if we had completed a march of our predecessors from Islam.

We have to remedy that; to become one of the first race as we were, especially when seeing young people who became pioneers in innovations and practical inventions worldwide, which confirms that they needed to prove their capabilities quickly, they have translated their gratitude for the state’s decisions to develop rapidly with creativity, each in its field.

Rather, they are facing challenges with a spirit of enthusiasm, and with distinguished achievements, following the example of the young pioneer, my Highness, the Crown Prince, Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

By virtue of your work in the field of women and your presidency of the Women’s Information Center at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for years, what do you say about Saudi women?

From my follow-up on the situation of women around the world, their suffering to achieve their ambitions, and their fight against them of the same gender, Saudi women were truly different – at least compared to others – because they were helping each other as much as possible, and trying to contain each other in the difficulties.

Our society currently lives a renewed culture of entertainment accompanied by a large response, but very few, so what do you say to them?

Recreation and enjoyment is a human right before anything. If a person abandons this right, he / she is free to darken himself, but do not have the right to deprive others! It is a unique experience that succeeded from the first time, so we have to thank those who have achieved it, to show us this creativity.

The fact that the official was generous in dealing, that seeking everyone’s opinions and suggestions to share this success with them, does not mean that we make the owners of the negative comment an audible voice, or that they mumble our joy.

 What would you recommend to the Saudi girl who recently worked in the government sector?

To focus at the beginning of her career path on the amount of achievement, to adopt for her a balance of practical archives that establishes her reputation, to work tirelessly in working time, and to develop from her abilities in non-working hours with scientific courses and training, if it is a practical field.

And also interested in reading in other areas; for education, then begins with a focus on the quality of work; this is what remains, determines its success, and the direction of its future, and gives it the value through which it plans its practical life.

As for financial rewards and privileges, both will not verify the aspiration of a government employee for anything, nor will develop from his efficiency over the years. Rather, the pursuit of it wastes time and effort, which are the most important elements of success in government work.

What do you say to females working in a new field for women?

Patience, then patience; the results will be fruitful, and you will forget about the challenges it has gone through; then flexibility in planning for the future, and deliberate decision-making, especially in areas where men are not accustomed to the leadership of women; this is for every Arab woman as well, so there is nothing wrong if the road is the most difficult and longest. This gives her life a story. If her life had a story, she became distinguished.

The term “soft power” is used diplomatically. What does it mean?

“Soft power” is defined as the spiritual and moral strength of a country, which results from ideas and goals with human values ​​and principles, which results in gaining respect, and then accepting and following the sources that brought them.

There are many means of attraction from one country to another, such as flexible laws, political, social, and cultural, sports, and other culture in a country, in addition to its goals and principles, and how well people accept it.

The more and more these advantages multiply, the greater and the greater the elements of power in the state; that is, soft power is part of popular diplomacy, and one of its complementaries.

How is soft power achieved?

To achieve soft power, its fundamental factors must be achieved. The culture of the state is one of the necessary reasons to be taken into consideration. This includes all segments of society, starting with the educated class and ending with the uneducated class.

Also, taking into account the lack of duplication in the goals and standards of the state; that what it achieves internally is similar to what it calls for externally, which gives it more credibility and acceptance internationally.

Finally, the foreign policy of states is one of the most important factors for the success of popular diplomacy, if it is appreciated and accepted by foreign societies, which facilitates its work and gives it international acceptance.