Somayya Jabarti is one of the few women to have beaten the odds and climbed her way to the top of the male dominant Saudi world.
She was recently appointed as the Managing Editor of Arab News, a Saudi English newspaper based in the port city of Jeddah.
Jabarti joined the paper in 2006 as a local desk editor and went on to become the deputy national desk editor and executive editor. However, the latest appointment is by far her biggest achievement and she is the first woman to be appointed managing editor.
Somayya Jabarti took the reins of the English newspaper from Khaled Almaeena.
"Today I proudly leave my nominee, a female journalist - Somayya Jabarti - who will take the helm of the paper," Almaeena wrote in a farewell letter to the paper's readers. "She has been associated with me for almost 13 years, and I’ve had the goal almost as long of wanting to see a Saudi woman enter the male-dominated bastion of editors-in-chief. It was not a question of gender but of merit that decided and earned her this opportunity."
Apart from her accomplished career in journalism, Jabarti has also worked in education and marketing research at Consumer Metrics.
She also volunteered at summer programs for youth and overseas refugee camps.
Jabarti was also a member, participant and media representative in the first Saudi civic delegation during King Abdullah’s first state visit to India in 2006.
News of her appointment as managing editor will be encouraging for all those women seeking careers in the male dominated Kingdom.
“There’s a crack that has been made in the glass ceiling. And I’m hoping it will be made into a door,” Jabarti told Al Arabiya News. “This is a first for a Saudi daily… A mold has been broken where editors-in-chief of Saudi daily newspapers are concerned.”
She understands the responsibility the post brings and how it can create a positive effect for the women of her country. “Being the first Saudi woman [newspaper editor] is going to be double the responsibility... One’s actions will reflect upon my fellow Saudi women,” she said.
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The conservative Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been taking baby steps as far as equal rights for women are concerned. Just recently the country opened its first female law firm.
Things have been changing gradually under the current leadership of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, under whose rule the first female members were sworn in to the country’s Advisory Council last year.
The King also granted women the right to vote in 2012 and provided sports facilities for them in 2013.The year before, Saudi Arabia sent its first female athletes to the London Olympics. In 2010 when over a dozen women were arrested for driving and sentenced to lashings, he revoked the verdict.
We only hope the good things keep coming for the women of Saudi Arabia.