Watch: Unveiled Saudi anchorwoman causes controversy

'We do not tolerate any transgression of our values' says TV official

Image Credit:
An unveiled anchor appears on Saudi state TV, causing controversy in the kingdom. Credit: YouTube
18 Gulf News

Dubai: A Saudi television official has moved to end a growing controversy caused by the appearance of an unveiled anchorwoman during a news broadcast on state television.

“She was a correspondent reading the news from a studio in Britain,” Saleh Al Mughailif, the spokesperson for the Saudi radio and television, said, referring to the woman’s appearance on Al Ekhbariya news channel.

“She was not in a studio inside Saudi Arabia and we do not tolerate any transgression of our values and the country’s systems,” he said, quoted by Al Tawasul news site.

Watch the clip below.

Saleh Al Mughailif added that all measures would be taken to ensure there is no repeat of the incident.

Social networks in the Saudi kingdom largely commented on the unprecedented sight of an unveiled woman reading the news on Saudi national television.

While several comments condemned the transgression of deep-anchored traditions that reflect the character of Saudi society, others said that the issue should not be overblown and that women without head veils often appeared on television, although not to read the news.


Hafez, a blogger, said that the unveiled anchorwoman was “a test to gauge people’s reactions to the sight of women without head covers on Saudi national television news.”

Saudi society has been divided over the possibility of granting women more rights, including the right to drive cars.

A decision by King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz to appoint 30 women to the Shura Council has become a landmark in the status of women in the country while a labour ministry decision to encourage more women to take up jobs in the private sector, especially in retail shops, has overcome stiff resistance from conservative forces.

Saudi state television often airs foreign programmes and television shows featuring unveiled women. Women in live programming and those appearing in in-house content do however wear the hijab.

The hijab is more strictly enforced in some parts of the kingdom than others. The coastal city of Jeddah is known to be less rigid than the capital Riyadh in its social norms and the wearing of the veil, which the religious police are tasked with enforcing.

Multi-billionaire Saudi Prince and businessman Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal does not enforce the hijab in the offices of his Kingdom Holding business empire. It is reportedly one of the few places in the kingdom where women roam freely without the veil.


  • Ali

    05-Aug-2014 19:14

    The vast majority of Saudi men have already seen unveiled ladies in the internet and won´t be too shocked.

  • Nassir

    05-Aug-2014 18:56

    do not confuse the culture of some weak and inferior men with the greatness of Islam! this woman has done nothing wrong. Anyone who has an issue with her, needs to have a check up! if you are a strong man, and really love Allah the way our Prophet did, then you wont objectify women as such. get a hold of yourselves. I salute her and any woman who is modest like her. Hejab is NOT compulsory. It should be purely by choice. Live and Let Live. may Allah bless us all.

  • Rob Whatman

    05-Aug-2014 18:46

    This newsreader was reporting from a studio in the United Kingdom. The law in that country does not require anyone to wear any form of hijab if they do not wish to, and to question the nature of what hijab means. It also allows you to wear any form of hijab if you so wish. The feelings of her Saudi television employers, and the Saudi public, do not come into it. She is protected under British religious discrimination laws, equality laws and fair employment laws, in her right to carry out her job without harassment or fear of dismissal. The same ones that would protect her should she wear hijab and be threatened or be dismissed for it. Any move by her employers to alter her job description to take her off-air or to attempt dismissal proceedings will result in a costly legal battle that will lave her as the victor. It would be a shame, as a teacher who has recently encouraged a young girl in my class in her desire to wear a headscarf at school to share her culture and share it with her young friends, all of whom were interested and supportive despite not being Muslim, if the Saudi state tried to deny the legal freedoms of residents of another country.

  • Kabeer

    05-Aug-2014 17:57

    @Mohammad Al-Baker : - if what Mr Hamid said is not a issue then why is it in headline. Islam is for entire humanity but most of the Saudi people follows deen strictly then others in any parts of the world. May Allah guide us onto straight path.

  • Morgan

    05-Aug-2014 15:46

    It is not for women to cover up because "Men can't control their desires" If a man cannot overcome his desires then he is no better than a beast. Why should women suffer for man's problem? Should the roles be reversed I doubt the same would be expected of us. If this should give you pause, deal with it and strive to be a real man capable of accepting strong women.

  • Adil

    05-Aug-2014 15:30

    Dont confuse Saudi Culture with Islam. Respect culture Respect Islam.

  • Abhinav

    05-Aug-2014 15:18

    If people have a problem with this unveiled women, stop watching Western TV channels and Movies. Do not be a hypocrite by criticizing here and practicing something else.

  • Mohammad Al-Baker

    05-Aug-2014 14:21

    @ dear Hamid Hussain, My brother, Gulf News has been fair in publishing all points of views. Case in point, mine and yours, and frankly, none has been anti-Islamic! Please stop imposing your belief on others, because that will only backfire and results will be people leaving the faith in masses. I have been blessed with 5 children. 2 boys and 3 daughters. My wide and middle daughter CHOOSE to wear Hijab, and we are a tolerant family, a proud Muslim family. I never forced or expected any of them to do so. it is their choice, and my other 2 daughters are modest and indeed good people. Please brother, stick to the faith and not interpretations of sort. Thank you

  • sridhar

    05-Aug-2014 14:07

    before civilization we had no clothes to was an we have enough to wear...and it is still an issue....we love to create problems out of anything and like to keep ourselves busy trying to sort them out...

  • abdul Rafeek

    05-Aug-2014 13:25

    This hijab not only in saudi arabia its compulsory all the Muslims around the world so i don't think there is any special requirement in saudi arabia

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Latest Comment

The vast majority of Saudi men have already seen unveiled ladies in the internet and won´t be too shocked.


5 August 2014 19:21 jump to comments