Saudi Shoura ponders over dress code for women anchors

The Shoura Council is to review calls from media authorities for a uniform conservative dress code for women appearing on Saudi channels. (Shutterstock)

The Shoura Council is to review calls from media authorities for a uniform conservative dress code for women appearing on Saudi channels, Al-Hayat reported.

The General Commission for Audiovisual Media sent a proposal on Tuesday to the Shoura Council with a draft regulation for women to dress conservatively when appearing in the media.

The head of the council’s media committee Ahmad Al-Zilaie said the Shoura is still reviewing the proposal and nothing has been approved yet.

He said: “If the council approves the proposal, the commission will have control over all media channels in Saudi Arabia.

“That may pose as a problem as media must be as diverse as possible and it is a very sensitive matter to have one party direct the media.

“I personally prefer moderation and don’t really have anything to say about the proposal.”

He added the proposal, written by Ibrahim Abu Abat and Zainab Abu Talib on behalf of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media, did not receive much opposition from the council so far.

Abu Abat gave Manal Ridwan as an example of a Saudi woman who should not appear in the media because she does not wear a headscarf.

He also complimented Iranian women in the media for wearing headscarves. Speaking at a meeting with council members, he said: “I receive a lot of questions from Muslims all over the world wondering why our women appear without their hijab (headscarf) in the media. It is embarrassing to not be the best representation of Islam.

“Saudi women must appear with their respectable hijab so we can have a Saudi media that truly represents our beliefs and values.”

Shoura Council member Saud Al-Shammary was one of the few members who objected to the proposal.

He said: “The media is a sensitive platform that caters to certain audiences and follows certain policies.

“We cannot have one party decide what our hosts and anchors should wear. This can clash with some channels’ internal policies or aims.”

In response, Al-Zilaie added that the attire specified would not be any different from the requirements of having a passport photo taken. He said: “It is not anything extreme but it is unified.

“If the council approves the proposal we might not see the traditional clothes of Saudi culture on TV anymore. “Whatever happens, the proposal needs to be approved before anyone can protest against anything.”

The article was first published in the Saudi Gazette

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:54 - GMT 10:54