Home Page - Gulf in the Media
HomePoliticsEconomy                               Set Gulfinthemedia.com as home page
"Postings of opinions published in the Gulf and international newspapers
 Print  Send This Page
Save Listen to this Article
Woman matters   

Arab News - 02 May, 2012
Author: Reem M. Asaad

The simplest right

In one media release, Princess Hessa bint Salman, a well-known female figure and a patron of some women activities in the Kingdom, underscored the significance of various government and private organizations in fulfilling their social responsibility by ensuring the participation of women in the development of national industries.

The press release goes on “Princess Hessa was attending a ceremony where an agreement to establish the women’s wing of the Military Clothes and Supplies Factory in the western region was signed.”

The above hardly turns any heads because the era of King Abdullah was marked by many significant and unprecedented advances in women status and work rights. In fact, never were women able to travel on academic and training scholarships with such ease and support as they are today.

Despite all this, inside Saudi Arabia, women still don’t have the legal right to travel from point A to point B independently without a male driver (personal or other), period. And in my opinion, anything said about women advancing without the right of mobility (or at least proper public transport) is plainly limped. Undoubtedly many influential figures wish they could drive, that regulations were more accommodating or that court rules bent more in their favor but good will alone doesn’t change anything. Only the government can. The usual rhetoric about the public acceptance of women driving no longer flies. Sorry, dear women, you are not independent until you can move freely down your own streets.

An ideal woman

So, the headlines flash out about a Saudi female doctor, scientist or other professional with outstanding award or breakthrough. The press coverage often glamorizes this achievement with plenty of additives on how she overcame cultural barriers with the support of a husband, father or other male relative, a credit that society and local followers expect to see. After a usually engaging — and sometimes inspiring — story of the journey come the reader comments.

In Saudi, the most important aspect of woman participation in public life and economic sphere remains to be … modesty. Her modesty determines whether she is a “fit” Saudi woman or a “model Saudi woman” (i.e. representative of her fellow Saudi women). So if her picture appears in the news, she is judged by the level of coverage on her face. On a scale from completely veiled (face unseen) to bare head — with many variations in between — a woman’s appearance in commented on and therefore the woman gets “labeled” or socially stratified based on the level of modesty.

In fairness, a woman is judged on her looks everywhere in the world, and modesty is a key part of professional appearance yet ranking it as the most critical feature of an achieving woman who serves her community is nothing but ridiculous.

So, who is the “picture perfect” Saudi woman these days?

The majority across the board will probably describe her as a well-covered, (ideally niqab-wearing and at a minimum full hair coverage without makeup) preferably a mother who handles both work and household responsibilities.

Reader comments gauge not only public opinion but also cultural sentiment and perception of the society. Sometimes I skip the headlines right down to these comments just to assess if anything has changed, and I do sense some progress that is a bit too slow for my taste.

Money matters

The banking sector in Saudi Arabia remains to be the most regulated and organized in the economy. Since the seventies, women worked in women-only branches as tellers, customer service representatives and branch managers. My own mother was an officer in one of Jeddah’s most prominent banks, and as a child I accompanied her during school breaks to an office of fewer than ten women. I remember how I was — to my greatest amusement — assigned to small tasks like paper copying or delivery. Two decades later things have not changed much in terms of organizational structure. In fact, it was not until 2001 that the bank at which my mother worked, allowed women a slow and shy entry to more senior and gender-mixed positions. I was among three women appointed in executive roles not limited to servicing women-only. Today, the bank employs at least 100 women in its headquarters in positions ranging from junior assistants to department heads. The journey since then is worth documenting. It involves cultural, religious and technical anecdotes to be taught and to be learned from. Among other writers, I credit the financial industry for bringing to the society a generation of well-trained professional women as well as more relaxed and “female accepting” men who now view women as an integral part of the workplace and not just the social and household scene.

The time of the assassins in the Middle East
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2015-10-11
Author : Hisham Melhem
This is the time of the assassins in the Middle East. This is the time of the great disruption and the epic unwinding of Syria and Iraq; and for some...
MOH has failed to control coronavirus
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-10-11
Author : Ayedh Bin Musaad
It appears that the Ministry of Health has decided to adopt a new media policy in dealing with the issue of coronavirus....
We need a media channel for the Two Holy Mosques
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-10-11
Author : Muhammad Maroof Al-Shibani
The falling of a crane that happened a few weeks ago at the Grand Mosque and the stampede in Mina both elicited dangerous reactions. Perhaps the most significant was that...
US-Russian conflict in ME
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-10-11
Author : Abdulrahman al-Rashed
During last Thursday's US Senate hearing tackling military and political affairs, experts unanimously agreed that by interfering in Syria, Russia has become a growing danger to the United States in...
Betting on Syria conflict thwarts dialogue in Lebanon
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2015-10-09
Author : Nayla Tueni
It is not yet clear whether Russia's military participation in Syria will speed up the process of a political solution in which Moscow and Washington divide interests in our region,...
Iran: Soft power with the West, hard power in the Mideast
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2015-10-09
Author : Majid Rafizadeh
There have been two crucial shifts in Iran's foreign policy: increased diplomacy with the West, and unprecedented use of hard power with Middle East governments. Tehran is also persuading its...
With Russian and Iranian backing, Assad is here to stay
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2015-10-09
Author : Dr. Azeem Ibrahim
London and Washington have had their positions on Syria thrown into disarray by the entry of Russia into the conflict, so much so that they have been forced to soften...
Life is incompatible here
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2015-10-09
Author : Muna Al-Fuzai
A lot of people leave their countries in search of better work, more income, greater stability for their families and perhaps a chance for fame as well, when life becomes...
KAIA is overcrowded, yet planes take off with empty seats!
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-10-09
Author : Abdulrahman Al-Khareef
It is understandable that King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA), Jeddah, is crowded with passengers at the end of the Haj season every year due to the large number of pilgrims....
Why do expatriate workers control Saudi businesses?
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-10-09
Author : Rashid Al-Fawzan
This is a very sensitive issue. Let us not accuse one another of being responsible for the control expatriate workers exercise over small- and medium-sized businesses. The question should be:...
Enable Saudi women to start their own businesses
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-10-09
Author : Rashid Muhammad Al-Fawzan
I do not know how large the budget of the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) is. However, the SR2,400 per person fee paid annually into the fund means that it...
Syria: Russia's Afghanistan 2.0?
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2015-10-08
Author : Maria Dubovikova
Russia's airstrikes in Syria have dominated the news headlines. After Russian President Vladimir Putin’s moderate speech at the United Nations, in which he called for broad cooperation, hardly anyone could...
Children's education: the silent victim of Mideast war
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2015-10-08
Author : Yossi Mekelberg
Wars hit the most vulnerable in society the hardest, and the conflicts of the Middle East and North Africa are no exception to this rule. Of particular concern is the impact...
Is de-escalation of Saudi-Iranian tensions possible?
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2015-10-08
Author : Manuel Almeida
The accusations, threats and general tone in many of the reactions from officials and public figures in the region to the awful stampede in Mecca on Sept. 24 were politics...
Goodbye devilish pact … Where is your zeal on Abad Abideen?
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2015-10-08
Author : Ali Ahmad Al-Baghli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel threw his weight behind the Zionist lobby in the United States in an attempt to force the US Congress to oppose the nuclear agreement...
Total 200 Results in 14 Pages
For more news, views and reports about this topic, please subscribe
to GRC website: www.grc.net
Tue Oct 13, 2015| 29-ذو الحجة-1436هـ
Riyadh, Moscow join hands against 'terrorist caliphate'
Iran tests new precision-guided ballistic missile
Qatar sees oil price recovery in 2016
MPs question anti-terror treaty signed by Kuwait
Iraq halts its plan for global bond issue due to high price
Putin welcomes opportunity to talk with Gulf Arab leaders
Saudi Aramco mulls new Yanbu refining complex
Syria opposition to boycott UN talks, cites Russia strikes
Top IS figures killed, Baghdadi not among them?
UAE FM, UN official discuss issues of humanitarian aid
Kuwait won't slow investment in oil projects
Russia will not conduct ground operation in Syria: Putin
17 killed as Arab coalition forces storm rebel sites in Yemen
Abu Dhabi to host World Halal Travel Summit
GCC attorneys-general agree to exchange prosecutors
Iran's parliament gives initial nod to nuclear deal with powers
Intifada 3?
Doha becoming a model city for the Mena region
Six lessons from FNC voting
Confronting Russia? It's now too late
GCC Markets Performance – August 2015
GCC Earnings Review – 1H15
    GCC Press Agencies
Day's main stories from the GCC Press Agencies
    GRC Analysis
GCC and ASEAN: Charting Out the Horizon
Bright Future for Green Jobs in the GCC
Oman-ASEAN Relations
    GRC Commentary
Using the Iran Nuclear Accord to Advance Regional Security
Reduce your Footprint in Ramadan
A Gulf Perspective on the 'Obama Doctrine'
    GRC Press Release
Gulf Research Center press releases to the media
    GRC Publications
Disputed Islands between UAE and Iran: Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, and Lesser Tunb in the Strait of Hormuz
Demography, Migration, and the Labour Market in Oman
The Gulf Arab Countries’ Foreign and Security Policies Post-Arab Uprisings: Toward Greater Regional Independence of the Middle East
    GRC Newsletters/Bulletins

Enter your email to get the Newsletter
Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Terms & Conditions | About Us |
Weather | Qibla Directions | Hijri Date Conversion Tool
Full Page :total time:0  |   40-- 40 Middle Page :0  --   | Right : 40 - 40--en--sess-enreq-en-coming