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Saudi woman first to anchor nightly bulletin on state TV

Weam Al-Dakheel’s appointment seen as part of crown prince’s major reforms of kingdom’s attitude towards women

Saudi Arabia's first nightly newscaster Weam Al-Dakheel (screenshot)
Saudi Arabia's first nightly newscaster Weam Al-Dakheel (screenshot)

A Saudi female reporter has become the first woman to ever anchor the main nightly newscast on the kingdom’s state-run TV network.

Weam Al-Dakheel had previously worked Al-Arab news in Bahrain and CNBC Arabia. This week she assumed co-anchor duties alongside male anchor Omar Al-Nashwan during the 9:30 p.m. newscast.

Saudi Arabia is pursuing far-reaching social reforms that include a historic decision allowing women to drive, attend soccer games and take on jobs that once fell outside the narrow confines of traditional gender roles.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reform plan for a post-oil era seeks to elevate women to nearly one-third of the workforce by the end of the next decade, up from about 22 percent now.

The self-styled reformer has sought to break with long-held restrictions on women and the mixing of the genders.

But Salman has also drawn harsh criticism from rights groups over the targeting of human rights activists and political dissidents across the spectrum since his appointment in June 2017.

In August Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador and froze “all new business” with Ottawa over criticism of its arrest of women’s rights activists.

AFP contributed to this report.

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