Prominent Saudis: Princess Nora bint AbdulRahman Al Saud


Princess Nora is the founder of Saudi Arabia’s sister. She was a year older than him, born in 1875. The photo above is of King Abdulazziz on the right and Prince Saud Al Kabeer (P. Nora’s husband) on the left.

She had great influence on King AbdulAzziz and historians write that she really urged him to leave Kuwait and try to get control of Riyadh. Afterwards she became one of his main advisors and he was famously known to say on several occasions “I’m Nora’s brother”. King Abdulazziz also gave his sister a role in raising his sons; whenever anyone of them did anything wrong as a child he would send them to their aunt for discipline. Dame Violet Dickson on meeting Princess Nora stated that she was one of the most important personalities of the Arabian Gulf and commented on how charismatic she was. John Philby was also impressed by the princess and commented that she was the first lady of her country.

She was known to be quite progressive and outspoken. When the telephone first came into the country many Islamic purists thought it was a tool of the devil but she supported its installation and told the people that it was an amazing device that they will not be able to live without. She was also a poet and had written several poems, the most famous of which is the one she wrote when her husband left her behind for travel. Princess Nora passed away in 1950.

A few weeks ago King Abdullah honored his aunt’s memory by naming the first university in Saudi Arabia for women only Princess Nora bint Abdulrahman University for Women.

This is another photo but it isn’t of Princess Nora but I still imagine it isn’t far off from what she would have dressed like. This is of Fatima Al Zamil who ruled Hail (a province north west of Riyadh) from 1911 to 1914. The photo was taken by Gertrude Bell.  



Filed under Education, Gender Apartheid, Informative, Prominent Saudis, Women campaigns

52 responses to “Prominent Saudis: Princess Nora bint AbdulRahman Al Saud

  1. ps_chicago

    thank you so much for the information! it is great to get your perspective and take on the day to day experience.

  2. I so appreciate you writing your series about prominent Saudis. And I especially loved this one because she is a woman. It’s nice to know that she is still remembered and it’s a fitting tribute to name the first women’s university here after her. Thanks for the history lesson!

  3. It is interesting to see, how Saudi women dressed ages ago and how they do dress now. One does wonder… were these women less modest and less religios then the ‘modern’ Saudi women?

  4. i also wonder.. where did the female power/voice disappear to..

  5. Asma

    I’m very curious to know where Princess Fatima Al Zamil is buried..basically the city she passed away in. Would LOVE to know.


    I sincerely wish that this wonderful lady is still alive……………………only a wish.

  7. Dear Sir/ Madam,
    Please get the contact No of Prince Nora Bint Abdul Rahaman University, Riyadh.

    Musthak Ahmed
    Bangalore (India)

  8. Ahmed Al Essa

    Thanks a lot ,, very interesting

  9. Chiara

    Great article! It is important to record the influence historically of the “women behind the men” or “women behind the scenes”. I am preparing a post on Gertrude Bell so this is extra timely!

  10. There is obviously a lot to know about this. There are some good points here.

    I’m Out! 🙂

  11. Dear Sir/ Madam,
    Please get the contact No of Prince Nora Bint Abdul Rahaman University, Riyadh.

    Bakht Rwan

  12. ehsanullah ahmad

    it is surprising to me

  13. Layla A .Atabani

    It is interesting to know that more than half a century ago, women in Saudi Arabia, were given important posts and were taking vital roles in the society.

  14. seby

    Very informative article.


  16. Al A. Lodhi

    I was amazed to discover (through this blog) that Saudi women played critical role in the KSA’s consolidation process, their contribution in the political leadership ( e.g. Fatima was a ruler of Hail (a state /province near Riyadh from 1911-14)) was unmatched and I believe through this platform you need to continue reveal Saudi women’s contribution & their efforts to benefit the public in general e.g. Princess Nora supported the launch of telephone in the KSA, as initially telephone was perceived as a devil device or tool.
    Continue posting links (historic diplomatic and political events etc.) about Saudi women’s contribution in Arab peninsulas helps general public (especially in West) to change an engraved negative perspective about Saudi women. It’s also helps confirming the fact that Islam enforced equal (50%/50%) rights for both genders.

  17. Juweriah

    Can any1 please tell me how i can enrol wid dis university? E-mail me on
    Assistance shall be highly appreciated

  18. jawad
    please go through this web site,

  19. Assalaamu alaikum.
    I write from the Kingdom of Swaziland.
    We are engulfed by many problems first as muslims and then as a country.
    There are no muslims schools here, not even one. A parent has to send children to South Africaif he /she can afford the high costs.
    Organizations such as the Foundations in the Gulf are difficult to reach.
    Often they look after South Africa also and claim they have no offices or visa for Swaziland or the other smaller countries.
    We would appreciate any number of possible Organizations, Charities etc that can be approached or send representatives to assist us.
    The Embassisies are not concerned with social issues, especially not of muslims.
    I am enclosing the text below for information;
    Assalaamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu.
    I send salutations to the Holy Prophet(saw),

    On behalf of the muslim community in Swaziland, the Islamic Youth Organization of Swaziland and the Swaziland Islamic Trust, I wish all muslims continued benefits and rewards after the Holy month of Ramadhaan.
    I lament the troubles still engulfing big sections of the muslim world and pray for easing of their problems. We thank all those making efforts in this regard.

    I remind all about the important project of the First Muslim School in Swaziland that is still in limbo with very little progress and much shortage of funds. This project need every donation however small in order to secure the future of the muslim youth, women and adults in the country.
    The Grade 8 class has been in progress, albeit with difficulties due to water, furniture and other shortages.
    The European Union and KOBWA assisted us with water tanks and the completion of some of the ablutions.
    A lot of Applications, complete and bound have been sent to many NGOs. Many do not reply. Others do not cover Swaziland in their areas of operation whilst others reroute us to South Africa. Unfortunately we seem to be in competition for the same resources which RSA also need, so they cannot facilitate help in conduit to Swaziland.

    This is the centre where muslims can make a contribution to the national effort in education, health, water and sanitation, skills training, youth and moral training. At the same time muslim students can receive teaching in Arabic, Quran and Islamic subjects under one roof and under a muslim sheikh and some muslim teachers.
    But we never receive invitations nor assistance from Embassies from muslim countries!
    I still hope we will receive donations and offers towards our programmes of da’wah, education, water and sanitation, income generation and poverty relief,orphan and widow assistance, relief from natural disasters, from all of you and in whatever amount.

    I invite you to look at details of the project in our website.

    May Allah bless us all this Ramadhaan and ease any suffering.

    Dr Basheer B L Shabangu (
    Chairman; Islamic Youth Organization of Swaziland
    Swaziland Islamic Trust.

    tel; 00268 2505 8355
    cell; 00268 7602 1747

    Also contact other members of IYOS committee as follows
    Br Hamidullah Dlamini cell 00268 7603 9687 (
    Br Musa Masangane cell 00268 7604 2822 (
    School Headteacher Mr Msweli 00268 7608 5174
    Sister Penelope Dlamini cell 00268 7602 1982 (for women assistance, projects, sponsorships)

  20. Mrs Ateeq

    can i get the contact information of this university – applying for the teachers job in maths and physical sciences background

  21. ayyaz

    dear sir
    pls teel me job offer in this univesrty of women tel me details

  22. sharla schultz

    Loved this article! My daughter is teaching ESL at this school.

  23. Farhanah Abdulwahab

    assalamu ‘alykom..w.w

  24. Farhanah Abdulwahab

    assalamu ‘ can i enroll in this university please inform me jazakunnALLAAHu khyran..


    I have done my intermediate and now I want to study Business

  26. Nada Muslih

    You should not post a picture of this woman. She posed for another woman and not for the world to see. This woman Fatima al Zamil was probably covered herself in her lifetime. It is betrayal of trust to expose her to the public like this. Why don’t you instead find an anonymous picture of such a woman and then cartoonize it? You could leave Fatima’s biography and use the cartoonized picture as an example of how such women would have dressed.

    • SJ

      What a ridiculous comment. It was taken 150 years ago, she clearly gave her consent for the picture to be taken and it is important not only to get a sense of our history and the generations who have gone before us and their struggles but to see it as well, particularly when photography had just been invented. These early images are an important part of building a dialogue and factual evidence about Arab history and in particular, its women, not just for the Arab world but to combust all the myths and stereotypes worldwide about Arab women. This pic shows Fatima as a strong, confident woman. Plus, it was taken by Bell, who was a notorious Arabphile and understood this region better than most. You really think a cartoon would be sufficient or accurate enough to show that?! Don’t read or look if you don’t want to but don’t ever deny the rest of us the right to find out these things by presuming to know what a woman 150 years ago would have thought and felt.

  27. asslamoaliqum sir/mam i am sumaira i have done intermediate now i want to study in your university plzzzzzz help me and snd all info plzzzzz

  28. salamualaikom how can i join in amerah nora bint abdulrahman university?

    po VELLUVANGAD dt MALAPPURAM KERALA INDIA mob0091 9744 096 979

  30. asslamoaliqum sir/mam i am nasbiah amerol
    i have done intermediate now i want to study in your university plzzzzzz help me and snd all info please?

  31. Dear Sir/ Madam,
    Please get the contact No of Prince Nora Bint Abdul Rahaman University, Riyadh. by nasbiah monarogong amerol from philippines im muslimah

  32. Basharat mahmood khan

    AslamoAlikom Mir, Noura.How r you.Really i want meeting with you and my wife.Please accept my request. Thanks

  33. irfam

    my name IRFAN ali work techar good nechar and good boy thias is my hiastri one brother father is death contect IRFAN.ali sind nasorabad pakistan

  34. irfam

    plz helps me my. nam IRFAN.

  35. Ajay

    Is the university only for Muslims?

  36. Aasalamu Aalikum dear i have magic stone black magic stone its a m0st powerful and dangerous unique stone in all the world only one stone its coming khokaaf it is a sameri magician own stone my name is javad iqbal i’m here in pakistan contect us my cell phone number is 03155384212 thanks

  37. Aasalamu Aalikum dear i have magic stone black magic stone its a m0st powerful and dangerous unique stone in all the world only one stone its coming khokaaf it is a sameri magician own stone my name is javad iqbal i’m here in pakistan contect us my cell phone number is 03155384212 thanks stone price is 15000000 billion dollar

  38. Normalita Garcia

    Hello. . This is norma. .
    . A few years back my daughter had a friend named noura. We did not know she was a princess. We became friends. Her birthday is on nov. 9 . . I wonder how i can get in touch with her. . She knows me as mommy. She gifted us a lasa apso named mamoki few years back. I hope dear princess i can get to talk to you.hope to hear from u.

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  40. Karole du Pont

    This would be quite a wake-up call on Western journalists who could be enlighten on the fact that intelligent women can be respected for their deeds.

  41. I am from India and I am a female.I want to study psychology in this college.Can it be possible?

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  47. J

    I am searching desperately for the poem that is mentioned in the article. Would anyone have a reference or a link (it can be a page in arabic) to share ? Thanks in advance !

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