Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan
Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan Source: Facebook/KSAintheUK

In another step forward for women in Saudi Arabia, Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan has become the first female president of a sports federation that manages activities for both men and women.

Bint Bandar was appointed as President of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports late last week.

It was announced by the Chairman of the General Authority for Sport and the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, Turki Bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Asheikh.

The first woman to lead a federation

Bint Bandar, whose father is a former Saudi ambassador to Washington, was selected for the new role as part of the extensive reform in the kingdom's Olympic Committee and sports federations.

According to an official who spoke to Agence France-Presse (AFP) on condition of anonymity, Bint Bandar has become "the first woman to lead a federation" covering sporting activities for men and women.

She will head the Saudi Federation for Community Sports, which aims to promote sports and physical activity in Saudi communities. 

Meet Princess Reema

Born in Riyadh in 1975, Bint Bandar holds a bachelor's degree from George Washington University, according to Eurosport.

In addition to being a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist who promotes breast cancer awareness, she serves as a vice president at the General Authority of Sports, where she has been pushing for the integration of women in sports.

Among several other acknowledgments, she was named as one of the most powerful Arab women by Forbes magazine in 2014.

Saudi women are slowly paving their way into the sports world

Sarah Attar
Sarah Attar, one of the first Saudi women to ever compete at the Olympics Source: Flickr

While official sports competitions have long been almost exclusive to males in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom has seen several positive reforms in the past year.

Earlier this year, the General Authority of Sports announced plans to start granting licenses to women's gyms and open female-only fitness centers in every district in the kingdom. 

In July, Minister of Education Ahmad al-Issa issued a decree that introduced an all-new physical education program for girls' schools.

However, women are still not allowed to practice sports in public nor partake in competitive sports.