A newsreader has caused a stir in Saudi Arabia by shunning traditional Islamic dress to deliver a bulletin ‘bare-headed’. The presenter was broadcasting from the London studio of Al Ekhbariya, a state-owned news channel which featured the Kingdom’s first female newsreader when it launched a decade ago.
Women often appear on Saudi TV without wearing headscarves or veils, but the appearance was thought by many to be the first by a newsreader on a government-owned station.
The bulletin last week prompted a string of reactions on Twitter and news stories on Saudi websites.
A Twitter hashtag in Arabic circulated which translated roughly as #NewsEncouragesAdornments with one user, @HoNABIL, branding the channel ‘Zionist enemies of religion’.Another, @maysaaX, remarked that it was a ‘psychological jolt’ for the conservative country.
Several other users commented on how unusual the sight was, and some welcomed it as a step forward for personal freedom and women’s rights.
Clips and stills circulating online showed the newsreader in two outfits, suggesting she had opted not to wear a headscarf or veil for at least two bulletins.
But the channel has disappointed those who hoped it was becoming more liberal, releasing a promise that the incident will not happen again.