October 16, 2015
By Danielle Saroyan
Armenian Agenda Associate Editor
On October 14, Dr. Joseph A. Kéchichian, former Armenian Assembly board member (1989-91), presented his new book, ‘Iffat Al-Thunayan: An Arabia Queen, at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C.
Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin, President of the Middle East Institute, welcomed guests to the presentation and introduced Dr. Kéchichian to a room full of thirty guests. After conducting 53 interviews and acquiring 250 hours of information, Dr. Kéchichian wrote the first political biography of a Saudi monarch’s spouse. At the book talk, Dr. Kéchichian spoke about how ‘Iffat Al-Thunayan influenced public policy through modernizing and expanding health care and education in Saudi society.
‘Iffat Al-Thunayan opened the first private school for girls in Saudi Arabia, and encouraged other families to join by enrolling her own daughters. She was a firm believer in educating women, which would ultimately lead to a mutual respect at home between husband and wife. ‘Iffat Al-Thunayan earned this respect from her husband, King of Saudi Arabia Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Dr. Kéchichian shared some information about her personal life, such as her relationship with King Faisal. ‘Iffat Al-Thunayan was the only woman King Faisal would allow to walk in front of him and give him her opinion on various matters. She was quiet, but very observant and a great listener. Dr. Kéchichian described her as a dedicated, passionate, and influential woman who is an inspiration for many in Saudi Arabia.
The event concluded with an opportunity to purchase ‘Iffat Al-Thunayan: An Arabia Queen and a book signing from the author.
Dr. Joseph A. Kéchichian is a senior fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He is the author of several books, including Legal and Political Reforms in Saudi Arabia (Routledge, 2013), Power and Succession in the Arab Monarchies (Lynne Rienner, 2008), Faysal: Saudi Arabia’s King for All Seasons (University Press of Florida, 2008), and Succession in Saudi Arabia (Palgrave, 2001), in addition to his latest publication, ‘Iffat Al Thunayan: An Arabian Queen (Sussex Academic Press, 2015).
Photo Caption 1: Dr. Joseph A. Kéchichian presenting ‘Iffat Al-Thunayan: An Arabia Queen, his new book.
Photo Caption 2: Dr. Joseph A. Kéchichian signing ‘Iffat Al-Thunayan: An Arabia Queen, his new book.
Photo Caption 3: Dr. Joseph A. Kéchichian speaking with Dr. Rouben Adalian, Director of the Armenian National Institute.