A Saudi woman to head a newspaper, why not?
Abdullah Al Alami
September 19, 2014
When Khaled Al Maeena told me some twenty years ago that he wished Saudi women would occupy leading positions in the local press, I knew he meant what he said. Those were the days when Saudi Arabia was under brutal Scud raids during the Gulf War. Also those were the days when Saudi women took to the streets and dared to drive in Riyadh.
My words will not add any credit to Al Maeena, neither would he benefit from anything I say here. When he called earlier this year to tell me about his plan to appoint Ms. Somaya Jabarti as Editor-in-Chief of “Saudi Gazette”, I realized that he began to write a new chapter in the history of Saudi journalism. This news item received good reviews from Sydney to Houston.
Maeena’s purpose was clear and convincing; it is not about gender equality, but rather a position that Ms. Jabarti qualified for and deserved.
I knew that Jabarti’s task would not be easy, as she would undoubtedly fight for freedom of speech for both women and men. In addition, this was an opportunity to reform journalism in Saudi Arabia at the time female journalists were paid far less than their male counterparts.
In a symposium held in honor of Saudi journalists at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce several years ago, the chairman of the Saudi Journalists Association said “women would not become editor-in-chief in Saudi Arabia.”
Somaya Jabarti met the challenge and broke the rule.