Somayya Jabarti takes over as editor-in-chief at Saudi Gazette newspaper

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 10:53pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 10:53pm


A woman in Saudi Arabia has been appointed editor-in-chief of a national newspaper, the first female journalist to be promoted to such a position in a country not known for women's rights.

Somayya Jabarti, a former deputy editor, has become the chief of the Jeddah-based English daily Saudi Gazette, the paper's departing head has announced.

"There's a crack that has been made in the glass ceiling. And I'm hoping it will be made into a door," Jabarti said after starting the job, according to quotes carried by Al Arabiya News. "Being the first Saudi woman [editor-in-chief] is going to be double the responsibility… One's actions will reflect upon my fellow Saudi women."

According to Jabarti, of around 20 Saudi Gazette reporters only three are male but the paper's senior editorial positions are mainly held by men.

"The majority of our reporters are women, not because we are biased and choosing women over men. There are more women who are interested in being journalists, and who are journalists," she said.

News of her appointment was made public by the departing editor-in-chief, Khaled Almaeena, who had held the position for over a decade.

"Today I proudly leave my nominee, a female journalist - Somayya Jabarti - who will take the helm of the paper," Almaeena wrote in an article published on Saudi Gazette's website. Almaeena will become editor-at-large.

"[Jabarti] 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."

Many Twitter users hailed Jabarti's appointment but also referred to the kingdom's restrictions on women drivers.

"She's not allowed to drive, but Somayya Jabarti is #saudiarabia's first female newspaper editor," tweeted Katelyn Verstraten, a journalism student.