February 11th, 2006 /
January 2nd, 2019
Bayan Mahmoud al-Zahran became the first Saudi woman to take centre stage as a lawyer, when she appeared before the General Court in Jidda for the first time in November 2013, to defend a client. She had been working for years as a legal consultant and had represented dozens of people in criminal and civil cases and in family disputes.
al-Jubeir has been centre stage in his country’s row with its neighbour, Qatar. With the Saudi monarch busy reshuffling the line of succession and government positions, al-Jubeir has been travelling to Western cities to make a case for the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar, which started as a request for Qatar to halt its alleged support for ‘extremism and terrorism’ but has since expanded beyond the region.
What makes Lubna Olayan special is that, as a female in the traditional professional male bastion of society, she has managed to overcome traditional barriers in Saudi culture and hold her own.
Muhammad bin Salman: the rising star in the ruling family.
Khalid Alkhudair has pushed for additional legislation that will make it easier for women to enter the workforce, such as mandatory maternity leave and onsite nurseries for firms that employ 50 women or more. However, barriers to women’s employment remain, including the continuing ban on women driving.
The prince is known for his business empire, philanthropy and for being the wealthiest man in the Middle East on Forbes’ billionaires list. Unlike other Saudi princes, bin Talal is self-made, meaning that he used his inherited wealth and royal privilege to build his business empire and invest around the globe
At a time when the increasingly powerful Saudi crown prince is promoting his openness to economic and some social reforms, al-Nafjan and other activists are fighting for women’s rights that go beyond the lifting of the driving ban. Yet their arrest is a clear sign that further improvements in women’s rights are a long way off.
The arrest comes at the same time that Saudi Arabia has detained a number of prominent women’s rights activists, ironically just ahead of the date set to lift the ban on women driving in the kingdom. The arrests of both the activists and al-Rashid have provoked an outcry from rights groups and a statement of concern from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, but so far international action has been limited.
The arrests were a matter of “national security”, said Princess Reema, adding that she did not want to comment further, in part because she knew the families of some of the arrested women. Regarding women’s rights, however, she went on to say, “I actually do have a family that will allow me to be mobile and dynamic, but that is not the reality for a lot of women. And until it’s the reality for a lot of women, I think we need to keep pushing forward.”
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