Weam Al Dakheel’s professionalism and confidencedraws praise from viewers
RIYADH, Sept 21, 2018 (CIC) – A new sight greeted TV viewers in Saudi Arabia who were tuned to one the state-owned TV channels on Thursday: a woman presenting the main evening news bulletin!
Weam Al Dakheel entered the history books when she appeared alongside anchor Omar Al Nashwan to become the first female in the history of state-owned Saudi TV Channel 1 to present the nightly 9:30 newscast. Traditionally, men have dominated hard newscasts in Saudi Arabia, while female presenters focused more on soft morning newscasts, women’s programmes, cooking shows and weather updates.
“Jumanah AlShami was the first women to present morning newscasts in 2016. Today history repeats itself as #WeamAlDakheel becomes the presenter of the main nightly newscast, setting a precedent in an historic first for Saudi TV 1,” Saudi TV said on its official Twitter channel.
The empowerment of Saudi women is a key pillar of Saudi Vision 2030, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and a series of reforms initiated in the Kingdom were aimed at the empowerment of women. Notable among these moves was a Royal Decree issued in September 2017 by King Salman bin Abdulaziz allowing women to drive as of June 24, 2018. Vision 2030 also aims to increase the percentage of women in the workforce. The past year saw the entrance of some 600,000 Saudi women to the workforce, and women are now allowed into sports stadiums and allowed to attend concerts and other public gatherings.
“Congratulations to #Weam_AlDakheel, a good omen for the daughters of the homeland in the new age #National Day,” tweeted@Nora1M.
Joining her colleague Omar Al-Nashwan in presenting the news on Thursday night, the camera-ready and photogenic Al Dakheel delivered a professional and confident newscast that covered local, regional and international news, drawing kudos from many quarters, locally and regionally, and igniting a torrent of praise and encouragement across social media.
The following night, her colleague Nada Al Dahham, another media professional, co-presented the nightly news bulletin with equal aplomb, alongside her male colleague, Abdullah Al Yahya.
Al Dakheel – a presenter with broadcast media industry experience — is an operations manager at state-owned Saudi TV and has previously worked as a television reporter for Dubai-based CNBC Arabia and as a news presenter at Bahrain-based Al Arab TV. She received a B.A. in journalism from Beirut’s Lebanese American University in 2011 and is tri-lingual in Arabic, English and French.
Al Dahham had worked previously in Radio Riyadh, where she presented many radio programmes, before moving to Al Ekhbariya TV, where she became the first Saudi female broadcaster to present sports news bulletins.
Thursday’s presentation got a thumbs-up from writer Rayyan AlJidani who tweeted as @raljidani, “The performance of the daughter of the homeland (@WeamAlDakheel) was very distinctive in terms of focus and presence and good pronunciation. I wish her more success in her media career with the national channel #saudiatv.”
Another twitter user said, “#Weam_AlDakheel is a news anchor with a strong and pleasant personality.”
Jessy El Murr, an American Lebanese social media journalist and trainer based in the UAE, noted: “Weam Al Dakheel makes history as the first Saudi woman to anchor the nightly news on national Saudi TV. A proud moment for #KSA #Arab and women everywhere.”
“#Weam_AlDakheel presents the first news bulletin … Our country is changing its skin for the better,” tweeted @mohmmadayyad1.
“Saudi women are creative in every profession, they just need to be given a chance. #Weam_AlDakheel is one of them, as she presents her first news bulletin,” @Shraykom tweeted.
“It’s a unique step for the Kingdom’s TV for the first time in its history…Congratulations “#Weam_AlDakheel,” tweeted @AbdullahTVV, along with a prayer emoticon of two folded hands alongside a Saudi National flag.
The first newscast by Al Dakheel came three days ahead of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s 88th National Day, which will be celebrated this Sunday, September 23.
Al Dakheel follows in the footsteps of trailblazers such as Huda Al-Rasheed, who was the first female Saudi broadcaster to present the Saudi TV news bulletin in 1974 before she joined the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). She spent more than 30 years there, the first Saudi anchorwoman and first female Arab voice on the BBC.