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Royal Connections

When it comes to Washington action heroes, Rima Al-Sabah of Kuwait is the Xena Warrior Princess of the capital's social scene.

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Not that any of these questions would come from the party's hostess, who says that the war was never a subject of major controversy in Kuwait. "Everyone [in Kuwait] believed there were weapons of mass destruction," she says simply. "All intelligence pointed to that. My husband worked at the United Nations from 1991 to 1998 and everyone in the Security Council believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction."

In fact, it's Kuwait's position as the Middle East's staunchest supporter of the war in Iraq that has give Al-Sabah her muscle with members of the Bush administration.

"Everyone at my party is a friend," says the 40-ish, self-professed workaholic, who with her penchant for Dolce & Gabbana jeans and Jimmy Choo stilettos, has done plenty to dispel the stereotype of shy Arab women peeking out from behind the veil. A party like the March 8 celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations Children's Fund and International Women's Day, she explains, "takes amazing planning. I only do things when I'm passionate about them. A big dinner for me becomes like choreography. It's a production."

Still, it doesn't hurt to have the President tout your cause on network television just days before the gala you've been planning for months.

Last year, as the Iraq war raged on and critics seethed that America had ignored the victims of its earlier war in Afghanistan, Al-Sabah lined up corporate underwriters ChevronTexaco, The Dow Chemical Co., ExxonMobil and Shell International and raised $1 million to help build a school for girls in Afghanistan. On March 1, a week before Al-Sabah's party was scheduled to take place, the President made a surprise five-hour visit to Afghanistan. Stepping out onto the tarmac in Kabul, where he was greeted by President Hamid Karzai, Bush said: "We like stories of young girls going to school for the first time so they can realize their potential."

The realization of Al-Sabah's own potential did not just come from being a "wife-of." A native of Lebanon and a former journalist herself, she worked as a stringer for the UPI, or United Press International, where she interviewed Church of England envoy Terry White in 1997, shortly before he was kidnapped in Beirut by Muslim extremists.
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