Saudi Arabia's Engagement in Multilateral Diplomacy

Around a wide conference table on April 16, 2014, in the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations, Ambassador Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi spoke to members of YPFP NY on “Saudi Arabia’s Engagement in Multilateral Diplomacy.”

Ambassador Al-Mouallimi was previously ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union and served as the mayor of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s second largest city, from 2001 to 2005. He has been the Saudi Ambassador to the UN since June of 2011.

The talk opened with a historical overview of the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia’s role in the United Nations. Saudi Arabia was one of the founding members of the U.N. and Ambassador Al-Mouallimi mentioned that he is pleased to be serving at the Saudi Mission this coming October when the country will be up for election to the U.N. Security Council for the first time.

Ambassador Al-Mouallimi then delineated the Saudi perspective on as he termed them, the “three hot topics in the region,” Palestine, Syria and Iran.

It was on Palestine that Ambassador Al-Mouallimi spoke most forcefully. On this issue Saudi Arabia has “major disagreements with the United States” he said. “Peace-making is not a part-time job that can be done within election seasons,” Ambassador Al-Mouallimi stated, “It is high time Obama works to earn his Nobel Prize.

The Ambassador’s introductory marks were short and left room for questions, although after almost twenty queries the room was still full of raised hands.

Topics ranged from unemployment in Saudi Arabia, the concept of peak oil and the impact of the U.S. invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Other questions brought up the U.S. drone program, Saudi’s relationship with Qatar, recent events in Egypt and issues of gender equality. On this last topic Ambassador Al-Mouallimi spoke most personally as he brought up both the fact that the a Saudi woman was first granted a license to practice law th is past month and his own daughter’s interest in studying law. The only question that did not receive an in-depth answer dealt with a recent human rights case in Saudi Arabia. Ambassador Al-Mouallimi said he was not familiar enough with the case to comment.

The small size of the room and the popularity of the event meant that the RSVP list filled up quickly and the wait list grew long. Read the event recap on the Mission's website, and remember to sign up early for the next event.

 The Global Diplomacy Series offers YPFP NY members the opportunity to engage with the most distinguished diplomatic representatives in New York, including diplomats from permanent missions, consulates, and embassies. Discussions are typically off-the-record, open to a limited number of attendees, and take place at the relevant embassy, residence, or cultural office.   

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of their employer or Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.

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