WASHINGTON, April 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Kingdom of Bahrain's Ambassador to the United States Houda Nonoo spoke today with the Women Ambassadors Foundation at Howard University to discuss Bahrain's progress and return to normalcy since a period of recent unrest in the country.
Ambassador Nonoo indicated that progress was being made in Bahrain and noted that her nation is "definitely on the mend." She detailed that, "Financial centers have reopened, including banks and the stock market" and that "Students have returned to school and traffic is flowing again."
In an effort to spearhead democratic reforms, Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has asked parties in Bahrain to take part in a national dialogue. Ambassador Nonoo remarked, "We need this dialogue to take us to the next level of democratic accomplishment. So far, the opposition forces have not been willing to come to the table and talk about their grievances."
Ambassador Nonoo concluded, "I am honored to represent such a beautiful nation with a high standard of living. We have work to do, but we are on a path of democracy and our goals are clear."
FULL TEXT OF SPEECH:
Speech to Women Ambassadors Foundation at Howard University
Ambassador Houda Nonoo
6 April 2011
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I am truly pleased to be here this morning. I would like to thank Dr. Marilyn Sephocle, president of the Women Ambassadors Foundation, for her gracious invitation. I am honored to be in the presence of so many esteemed ambassadors today. Thank you, ladies.
I would also like to thank James Wyche, provost of the University, for his warm hospitality here at Howard.
I am proud to be Bahrain's ambassador to the United States, a position I have held since July 2008. Prior to engaging in public service, I ran a business with my husband. In 2004 I was a founding member of a human rights society and was elected as its Secretary General. I was then appointed to the Upper House of Parliament, before becoming Ambassador to the United States, Canada, Brazil and Mexico. And I'm still waiting to present my credentials in Argentina!
Being an Ambassador has been a rewarding job, which has allowed me to meet with fascinating and stimulating people. It's never contained a moment of boredom.
My primary duties as ambassador consist of representing the Kingdom of Bahrain in the United States and other countries. This includes meeting with elected officials on Capitol Hill to discuss bilateral relations, telling the story of Bahrain through speeches such as this one and hosting events to promote the kingdom as a center of commerce and industry in the Arabian Gulf.
Bahrain is a unique country in that it is home to Bahraini Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews and Ba'hais. And our places of worship stand next to each other. I myself am from the Jewish community. So not only does Bahrain have a female ambassador, but we also have a female Jewish ambassador. The first one in the Arab world!
As you most likely know, Bahrain is undergoing a period of change at the present time. Since February 14, we have been experiencing upheaval, started by a small group of young people who were trying to emulate what was happening in other Arab countries. This demonstration was soon taken over by people with a different agenda. Sadly, this group does not represent the majority of the country or anything close to it.
The good news is that Bahrain is slowly returning to normal. Financial centers have reopened, including banks and the stock market. Businesses have started functioning. Students have returned to school and traffic is flowing again. Shoppers are at the malls. Bahrain is definitely on the mend.
Our crown prince has asked all parties in Bahrain to participate in a national dialogue to explore future reforms, without any preconditions. Bahrain is a young democracy that is a work in progress. We need this dialogue to take us to the next level of democratic accomplishment. So far, the opposition forces have not been willing to come to the table and talk about their grievances. This is unfortunate, as we need all Bahrainis to propel this country ahead this decade.
As our country moves forward, I am quite hopeful that we will continue our tradition of being one of the most progressive societies in the Arab world. Women, for example, have always had their rights in Bahrain. We have women parliamentarians, ministers, undersecretaries, bank managers, teachers and even taxi drivers! It is a great time for women in our island nation.
During my time here, it has always been exciting to be Ambassador to the United States because the U.S. and Bahrain have historically enjoyed very close ties. We are home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. Thousands of U.S. military personnel have lived in Bahrain and thoroughly enjoyed their experience. These men and women are actually the best ambassadors Bahrain could ever have, as they promote our nation wherever they go.
Although I know there are many challenges ahead, Bahrain is undergoing an evolution rather than a revolution.
I am honored to represent such a beautiful nation with a high standard of living. We have work to do, but we are on a path of democracy and our goals are clear. Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Please enjoy the rest of today's presentations.
SOURCE Kingdom of Bahrain