The story of Princess Ameerah al-Taweel is the Cinderella’s story: a girl from a middle-class family became the wife of a Prince. Princess Ameera has always protected the rights of women, she was the first to refuse to wear Abaya - the traditional female dress in Arab countries. She is independent, purposeful and at the same time modest, has a valuable gift of empathy, and also an undeniable artistic taste and an innate sense of proportion - it is not surprising that she has become a model, a real style icon for many women. Ameera travels around the world a lot, doing charity work, but she is always happy to return home - to her family, friends and sweetheart dessert.
It is well known that, despite your high status, you are actively involved in charity work: you are fighting for gender equality, helping the poor and solving the problems of young people in your country. For many, you are not only a role model, but also a person of a new formation, because you destroy Western stereotypes about Eastern women with your active life position ... Why did you choose this path?
Rather, the path has chosen me. After all, I was just a girl of average income, I dreamed of becoming a doctor... And then I married a prince, and my life changed drastically. At first I focused on my education. If a person does not have an education, then he does not have security and confidence in himself, so studies first. Then I became involved in charity projects, managing the Al-Walid Ibn Talal Foundation, and in two years raised the organization with its excellent entire team, which conducted from 20 projects in a year to the level when it was able to carry out 60 projects a year.
I was very lucky to win the love of the Saudi people. And this love is mutual. I decided to use the benefits bestowed on me by the love of the people in order to promote projects that are useful to the whole society. I started with young people because this is the area where the most problems are: unemployment, inertia of thinking ...
Ten years ago I worked in the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Azerbaijan. I get acquainted with your culture and understand what it means to be a divorced woman in your country. This requires great courage ... In ten years, a lot has changed.
We have a lot more divorces - unfortunately... And the morals are changing: society is no longer so judgmental about divorced women as before. Now divorced woman can live on her own, be financially independent, take part in important decisions, and this meets more understanding. As for me, I am now a divorced business woman and I can do a lot of useful things for society.
You do a lot of charity work, solve others problems, travel ... Do you think about your life, about your future?
Perhaps, but I think that everything has its time and that which is destined to me will not pass by me... I cannot refuse to work in favor of my personal life. If a woman is independent, initiative and has an active life position, then she will find time for everything. For example, I spoke with Leyla Aliyeva. She is full of energy and everything she does is on time: she works, and she brings up children. And I'm sure nothing will stop her. Such a woman is hard to give up on work in favor of her personal life ...
Do you believe in love?
I believe in love, but it is misunderstood in our times. Modern man understands crazy passion by love, but this is only part of love. For true love you need friendship, mutual respect, mutual understanding... People forget about it, they see in it only some kind of chemical reaction in the brain. I believe in love in its fullness.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
It sounded like this: “He who does something does not care for trifles, but he who worries does nothing at all.”
Do you publish your poems, drawings?
Not everything. Probably two percent of everything I compose or draw gets into social networks. People seem to like it, but in general I am not very inclined towards publicity. I am rather a reticent person.
Do you write in English or Arabic?
In both languages: English and Arabic... I repeat - I do not consider myself a person of art. I would like to have more free time to cultivate and learn something. It is just a way of expression. I met with Leyla Aliyeva, who confessed to me that she had never studied painting, did not take lessons. She just draws - apparently, she just has a talent for this ... And she also does not call herself a person of art or an artist. I was just amazed: My God, why, she is just like me!
And you also think that you do not need to learn drawing?
I admit, I had a desire to learn painting. I was in Florence, there is one Italian artist, Marco, very famous. I took a few lessons from him. Somehow he drew something, and I repeated, almost copied his work. And then he told me that I should not study. I asked why? He asked not to be offended and compared me with a sponge, which quickly absorbs. He said that I could fall into imitation, and that would kill my personality. Therefore, its better for me not to learn.
Where do you get inspiration?
I have traveled all over the world, I saw so many beautiful corners of it, visited more than seventy countries, but I love my country, I love its nature, the desert and will not trade it all for anything else. I love everything that makes the desert special, I love the people of the desert - because they know how to survive and teach us the same thing. The spirit of the desert, my country, its beauty - all this lives in me and is reflected in my works.
Is there a place where you would like to stay longer?
I love to travel, but perhaps I wouldn’t be able to live in another place. I got used to everything native, even to the weather. Like Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia is developing very quickly, and now it is the right time to be there, in the center of events. But I have not only business, but also personal motives, because there are my family, friends, the desert - all is so dear to my heart. I repeat, I would not trade all this for anything!
What opinion did you have about our country and its people during your visit?
I can’t say that I already formed a holistic impression. I visited several places, I visited two museums, I was in the cultural center and in one historical place. I need to inspect everything. I feel that your country is very beautiful, it is only at the beginning of its journey, and the country is developing. I feel that the woman here is highly respected. Everywhere, no matter where I was, I saw working, independent women. And it really impressed me. At the same time it is a very hospitable country. And this is not a country of egocentrics concentrated on themselves: a collective spirit that is felt in every Azerbaijani.
What ideas for cooperation have arisen?
We talked a lot about cooperation. In my organization, we find and implement the most promising ideas proposed by young people. For example, the idea of using Apple products, proposed by a blind young man named Mohammed. It consists in verbalizing photographs: a blind person photographs what is in front of him, and the device describes to him what it is.
Thus, people with visual disabilities will be able to use social networks, record lectures, and generally live a full life. We trained 12 visually impaired to use this application. One of them, a little girl, burst into tears of happiness! She no longer needs to call her sister to get dressed, and she can choose an outfit herself. Now, no one will deceive her in the store, she can communicate with people around the world, use social networks - she even has her own profile! In the Center for Social Initiatives we work on such kind of projects - helping them to develop and influence the lives of ordinary people.
Now I am the special ambassador for the American Perkins School for the Blind, one of the leading schools involved in creating educational programs for the blind and visually impaired to help them become more independent in their daily lives. I plan to carry out projects of this school in life all over the world, including in your country in Azerbaijan. An infinite number of ideas are born in the modern world, and we are ready to support the most advanced and useful ones. I hope that our cooperation will develop, especially with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
How do you cope with emotions, seeing sufferings of others?
I experience the same things as everyone else: I feel guilty, I can’t eat, I wipe away tears ... I have seen a lot of horrors in my not so long century. But I know that someone must go to the deep, must see their sufferings, help and tell the world about it in order to attract public attention.
I have always been inspired by the example of Princess Diana. She could have lived just like any young woman in her circle, wasting her life in vain. But she went to sick children, to the victims of AIDS, she spoke to them, stung their hands, she had compassion for them ... She became the first crowned special who showed the world someone else's pain. Powerful, public people are obliged to do this, no matter how hard it is, because they are ambassadors of the world community... I really appreciate people like Princess Diana, Angelina Jolie, hundreds of women and men like that. They correctly use their fame and influence.
Interview: Nigar Nazarova / Photo: Frederic Aranda