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Demonizing and Vilifying Saudi Arabia’s Treatment of Women

Despite the unprecedented empowerment and emancipation experienced by Saudi women, thanks to the incredible reforms led by King Salman bin Abdulaziz, there are still those who wish to demonize Saudi Arabia on the grounds of gender discrimination. The king’s reforms led to extensive investments in women, their promotion in all fields of life, and their empowerment to enter the workforce. Indeed, in recent years, women’s participation rate in the labor market nearly doubled, growing from 17% to 31% over the course of several months. The fruits of the reform program led by His Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the godfather of the kingdom’s Vision 2030, are acutely felt throughout the kingdom. Today, Saudi women hold scientific, educational and governmental positions. They participate in jobs in both the public and private sectors. They’re involved in municipal councils, chambers of commerce, Shura councils and district courts. They even hold leading diplomatic posts, representing Saudi Arabia in international fora and maintaining a remarkable presence in the technology and entrepreneurial worlds. Unfortunately, there are those in the West who have a vested interest in swaying public opinion against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Many media outlets portray Saudi Arabia as a country of gender persecution and violation of rights, no matter how much we work to pave the way toward gender equality. Those behind these campaigns have a vested interest in embarrassing Riyadh, including powerful figures associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. This continuous scheme coincided with the rise to power of His Highness, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who laid out an ambitious vision for Saudi Arabia’s future. Therefore, it was not surprising that US Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, recently presented a draft resolution condemning the political detention of women and calling for the immediate release of female political prisoners. The draft resolution targeted 10 countries around the world, including four countries in the Middle East, one of which is Saudi Arabia! Unfortunately, a loud minority belonging to Saudi society has been helping institutionalize these stereotypes. Despite all of the measures taken by the kingdom to address any shortcomings in women’s rights, the West is looking for any loophole through which it can undermine the kingdom’s progress. This is all part of an organized and concerted campaign to brainwash the minds of Westerners against Saudi Arabia. This begs the question: How can the kingdom work to combat this smear campaign in order to portray its true image? How can it reach the millions of young people whose view of Saudi Arabia is shaped by the false content they consume on social media platforms and media outlets, many of which are owned or financed by countries and entities hostile to Riyadh? – Baina Al-Mulhim (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)