Saudi activist commends media in the Gulf

October 29, 2010

Nimah Al Nawaab

Arabian Gulf media is now open enough to report on matters that were considered taboo up to a recent time, a Saudi activist has said.

“There was a time when writing about sensitive issues had limitations, but these have been stretched in recent times, Nimah Al Nawwab said.

“Common problems such as abuse, violence and torture have been in the society for many years, but they are now being addressed by the media as critical issues,” she said in Doha where she delivered a lecture on the role of communications and media in negating limitations.

However, Nimah, also a poet, writer and photographer, said that red lines still exist.

“Limitations are always there and I for instance have my self-censorship. But my editing has changed because the limitations have expanded. The media has opened up for us to talk about issues that are highly sensitive, but that need to be discussed in order to find solutions,” she said, quoted by Qatari daily The Peninsula.

Cultural ambassador

Nimah, born to a Makkan family, was educated in Saudi Arabia. Her interests in diversity, change, tolerance, women’s issues and empowering youth have led to her involvement in various activities ranging from conferences and presentations to workshops.

She has been dubbed a “cultural ambassador” and a “voice for Arab women” for her endeavours to build bridges of understanding and her wide range of interactive readings and presentations in countries in the East and West.

According to the activist, many awareness campaigns are being conducted in Saudi Arabia against violence and include promoting awareness among schoolchildren and parents and training doctors on helping put an end to violence.

“Violence is a human nature that exists in all cultures. Torture is a psychological problem and a modern-day slavery that is rampant all over the world. The real way of dealing with this is spreading awareness through schools and campaigns. Recently we conducted an advertising campaign on dealing with domestic helpers. It was very dramatic,” Nimah said.

According to the writer, literature in the Arab world has been influenced by the emigration of many good writers to the West.

“There are countries where freedom of expression had been very difficult for many writers. Unfortunately, many of them left their countries and went to the West or elsewhere. Now, they cannot come back,” she said.


However, Nimah, who has been working with young people on empowerment, skill development, poetry and film making, still believes in a bright future for Arabic literature and activism.

“There is no dearth of writers and today’s writers have a better chance. I have met a lot of younger writers. There is lot of talent in the Gulf region,” Nimah said.

In her lecture at the Virginia Commonwealth University-Qatar, Nimah also talked about the impact of boundaries in global society and factors affecting crossing boundaries.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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