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(VIDEO) A Saudi Arabian woman just delivered the nightly news for first time ever

The Future for Women in Saudi Arabia conference, 20 February 2017 (Chatham House/Flickr)
September 25, 2018
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For the first time in Saudi Arabia, a woman anchor presented the nightly news.

Weam Al Dakheel, who joined Saudi TV 1 earlier this year, was the first woman to deliver the nightly news on the network, The Washington Post reported Monday.

“Jumanah AlShami was the first woman to present morning newscasts in 2016. Today history repeats itself as Weam Al Dakheel becomes the presenter of the main nightly newscast, setting a precedent in a historic first for Saudi TV 1,” the network said.

Before joining the network, Al Dakheel had worked at CNBC Arabia, and Al-Arab, a news network based in Bahrain.

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Her appearance on the network was praised by viewers on social media. It is one small step within a nationwide effort to change the economy and culture of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman announced his “Vision 2030” strategy last year, in which he laid out bold new plans to reform Saudi Arabia. These plans include reformation to promote inclusivity and strengthen the workforce to reduce dependence on oil exports.

Among the plans was a goal to see an increase of women workers to at least 30 percent by 2030, up from the current 22 percent. As a result, more job opportunities are open to women.

Earlier this year, Saudi women were permitted to obtain a driver’s license for the first time. They were also allowed to attend soccer games and other sporting vents. Saudi Arabia’s state-run airline also plans to hire women for flight attendant positions.

“We are…reverting to what we [once] followed – a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions,” bin Salman said at an investor conference, as Fox News reported last month. “We want to lead normal lives, lives where our religion and our traditions translate into tolerance, so that we coexist with the world and become part of the development of the world.”

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Although Saudi Arabia has made strides for women’s rights, they remain bound to men’s permission for many basic privileges, including work, marriage, travel, or medical treatment. Further, women’s rights activists are still being jailed for speaking out on discriminatory laws still in place.

However, equal opportunity laws could still come to Saudi Arabia. Bin Salman was named Crown Prince in June 2017, and a host of progressive policies and reforms have followed his position since. Saudis have already shown satisfaction over bin Salman’s policies, which could fuel further policies in the same direction.

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