RIYADH: In a touching video posted to the US Embassy in Riyadh’s Instagram page, Martina Strong, the departing US charge d’affaires, reflects on her memories and bids Saudi Arabia farewell after five years in service.
“Dear friends, after nearly five years of leading and supporting the US mission to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the time has come for me to say farewell to all of you,” Strong said.
“It has been a distinct honor for me to work alongside our Saudi colleagues as we strengthen the US-Saudi partnership that begin over eight decades ago,” she added.
A member of the Senior Foreign Service, Strong previously served in Iraq as political minister counselor in Baghdad, and as the US Army’s political advisor in Basra.
Prior to her arrival in Riyadh, she was the deputy chief of mission in Bulgaria and has also served in Poland, the Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and France.
In her video, Strong shared images of her travels to different parts of the Kingdom and the different people that she has worked with and met along her journey.
“Carrying forward our two countries’ proud legacy has taken me to every corner of the Kingdom, and at every step I was greeted by warm welcomes and gracious Saudi hospitality,” she said.
“Everywhere Saudis generously shared with me their history, culture and vision for their future.”
Strong added that the culture, art, music, tourism, sports, and high-tech sectors are the areas where there has been the greatest growth in the shared work between Saudi Arabia and the US.
“Today in every field Saudis and Americans are working together, learning together, conducting research together and performing together in concerts, films and athletic competitions,” Strong said.
During her time in the Kingdom, Strong has met with multiple Saudi officials to strengthen Saudi-US cooperation across sectors, including in entertainment, humanitarian relief, regional security, science and tech, and tourism.
In March 2021, Strong met with the Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority Turki Al-Alshaikh to discuss cultural cooperation in the entertainment sector between the two countries.
In the same year, she also held meetings with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and the Kingdom’s ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar, with a visiting US delegation to discuss some of the most prominent regional and international issues of common interest.
Strong has also met with Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission chief, Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad, to discuss the Kingdom’s improved ranking in the US State Department’s annual Human Rights Reports for the second year in a row, and the efforts of the National Committee for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings among other issues.
“The opportunity to contribute to these efforts and strengthen the deep and enduring bonds between our nations has been my privilege and tremendous pleasure during the past five years,” she said.
During her time in post, Strong amended and renewed a scientific and technical cooperation agreement with Dr. Mounir El-Desouky, president of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, to help develop research and innovation and realize the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
The cooperation aimed to enhance the scientific and technical capabilities of the Kingdom and the US, and expand the scope of relations between the scientific and technical communities in both countries.
The departing envoy concluded her farewell video by thanking the Saudi people for welcoming her and her family during her stint in Riyadh.
“I will always treasure the time I’ve spent here in Saudi Arabia — I wish you all a happy and healthy Eid Mubarak,” Strong said.
As a part of her final round of official visits, Strong met with Waleed Al-Khuraiji, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of foreign affairs.
Al-Khuraiji praised her efforts in strengthening Saudi-US relations, and wished her success for the future.