Follow Vogue Arabia

Why HH Princess Noura bint Faisal Al Saud is One of the Region’s Most Dynamic Young Female Leaders

Across the region, women are pioneering not only innovative business solutions but a more emphatic, inclusive leadership style – with a distinct sartorial identity to match.  

Abaya, Mona Alshebil; top, Princess’s own; necklace, ring, Adiba. Photo: Lesha Lich

As a member of the Saudi royal family, HH Princess Noura bint Faisal Al Saud grew up surrounded by role models – and today, she is herself one for countless young women. “My parents were great examples: dedicated, hardworking, and committed to what they do,” the princess shares. “The support they gave one another and us, their children, was inspiring. They were a huge part of my growth. They let me learn things on my own and make my own mistakes, but they were always there if we needed them. They gave us our independence early, which made it easier for us to make our own choices and learn from them.”

The princess did more than just learn from her experiences – she flourished, and, in turn she helps others prosper as well. One of her most formative experiences was living and studying in Japan for five years, where she received a master’s degree in international business from Rikkyo University in Tokyo. “Experiencing a different culture was a challenge,” she shares. “Yet learning about a new language and environment made me more independent and stronger, which led to me enjoying challenges. Travel also helps develop self-awareness, as you seek to align with different cultures and customs.” This experience wasn’t the first time the royal had expanded her horizons, and she recalls attending an international high school as an influential part of her childhood, where she was exposed to different mindsets, backgrounds, and cultures.

Abaya, Mona Alshebil; ring, Adiba. Photo: Lesha Lich

It is this open and approachable attitude – as well as her keen intellect and unfailing instincts – that has made Princess Noura one of the region’s most dynamic young female leaders. In 2018, she helped establish the Kingdom’s Fashion Commission at the Ministry of Culture and organized the first Saudi Fashion Week. In 2022, the royal founded Global Culture House, a boutique consultancy for business in the cultural, creative, and sustainability arenas. While she doesn’t come from a background of fashion, having worked in both the private and public sectors in Japan and the GCC gives her a unique viewpoint. “I’m proud to have had some positive impact on Saudi’s fashion industry,” she humbly notes. “Fashion represents culture, and culture represents the identity of the person and the place.”

The historic fashion week showcased brands such as Arwa Al Banawi and Jean Paul Gaultier and ushered in a new era for the Kingdom. “The reason I started Saudi Fashion Week was to create a platform for Saudi designers to showcase their work and to be positioned at an international level,” Princess Noura explains. “This was all before the Fashion Commission was established in Saudi, and now it’s the commission’s role to promote and enable the industry.” It’s important for the princess to showcase local design in her personal style as well. “If I can give a platform to Saudi talent by wearing abayas or other clothes by the country’s designers, then I will,” she notes. For this shoot, she proudly wears Mona Alshebil and Adiba.

She’s excited about her latest role and the important work that Global Culture House is doing. It is a chance for the princess to share her culture with the world, while making a difference in various creative industries. “My time in Japan and in the public sector meant I became adept at explaining Saudi’s customs and culture to potential partners and investors,” Princess Noura shares. “I learned the value of storytelling, and saw an opportunity to harness the power of cultural content to craft an authentic Saudi narrative and make it relevant to today’s audience. Clients are asking us to share stories about all aspects of Saudi: from tourism to industry and the environment and, of course, fashion. We help identify the culture of a business and repackage it in strategic ways that includes us putting on events, publishing books, magazines, and social media content, and even through VIP gifting.”

Abaya, Mona Alshebil; top, Princess’s own; necklace, ring, Adiba. Photo: Lesha Lich

As a leader, Princess Noura knows the importance of mentoring the next generation and of being a positive example to the youth of the region. As such, she is part of the Bain & Company female mentorship program, where she “listens and supports” as much as she can. She is excited about the prospect of more women joining the Saudi workforce. “For me, the work I do comes from the heart because I believe in the potential of the Saudi Kingdom and Vision 2030,” she shares. “I’m privileged to have female colleagues that are as ambitious and believe and give their all to contribute to the ambitions of the nation. Supporting other women is something that I bring to the table as well.”

When the princess is not working, she likes to relax by exercising, spending time with friends and family, and reading. Yet her beloved Kingdom is never far from her mind, and she is energized by its potential and the role she can help play in reaching it. “Now, success to me is different. It’s measured by the impact created: on the economy, on people. And how to sustain it, grow it, and how to communicate the story, sharing the objectives and goals,” she says. “We face challenges daily, and it’s important to recognize that they give us a sense of fulfillment.”

Originally published in the June 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia

Style: Mohammad Hazem Rezq
Hair and makeup: Diana Tintean

Producer: Ankita Chandra
Production assistant: Zinera Ali 

Read Next: Meet the Arab Women Breaking the Diplomatic Glass Ceiling and Making Their Mark on the International Stage

Suggestions
Articles
View All
Vogue Collection
Topics