Arab News at 44: The Saudi newspaper aiming for gender-balanced newsroom

Last year Arab News outlined its aim to become the first newspaper in Saudi Arabia to have a gender-balanced newsroom. (AN Photo)
Updated 20 April 2019
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Arab News at 44: The Saudi newspaper aiming for gender-balanced newsroom

  • The proportion of women working for the newspaper rose to more than a third in 2018
  • The initiative reflects an aim of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reforms to empower women in all fields

JEDDAH: Arab News has big plans to recruit more female staff.

Last year the newspaper outlined its aim to become the first newspaper in Saudi Arabia to have a gender-balanced newsroom. The drive — referred to internally as the “50:50 by 2020” initiative — covers all the newspaper’s bureaus and areas of operation.

The proportion of women working for the newspaper rose to more than a third in 2018, moving closer to the goal of a 50:50 gender-balanced newsroom by 2020, according to the Arab News “gender equality meter,” published in March. 

The initiative reflects an aim of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reforms to empower women in all fields, elevate their status and include more of them in the workforce, to enable them to contribute to the national economy.

Within a span of just two years, under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom has undergone massive changes that have enriched the lives of women.

Major events for women in the past two years have included the lifting of the driving ban on June 24, 2018, and women visiting sports stadiums and watching their favorite local soccer teams. The first match that women saw was the one between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin on January 12, 2018.

Saudi Arabia’s military began accepting applications from women in March 2018, women were appointed as members of the board of trustees of the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue in February 2018, and in that same month women were able to start their own businesses without a male guardian’s permission. The Oxford Aviation Academy in Dammam started accepting applications from women in March 2018, with the first batch of female students beginning their foundation program at the academy on September 2, 2018.

History was made in February this year when Princess Reema bint Bandar became the first Saudi female envoy to the US.

She took the oath of loyalty before King Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh, to become Saudi Arabia’s first female ambassador, and she was sworn in as Saudi ambassador to the US on Tuesday, April 16.


Netflix to roll out cheaper mobile-only plan for India

Updated 18 July 2019
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Netflix to roll out cheaper mobile-only plan for India

  • India is among the last big growth markets for the company
  • Netflix faces competition from Amazon’s Prime Video and Walt Disney Co’s Hotstar
Netflix said on Wednesday it would roll out a lower-priced mobile-only plan in India within the next three months to tap into a price-sensitive market at a time the streaming company is losing customers in its home turf.
India is among the last big growth markets for the company, where it faces competition from Amazon.com Inc’s Prime Video and Hotstar, a video streaming platform owned by Walt Disney Co’s India unit.
Netflix lost US streaming customers for the first time in eight years on Wednesday, when it posted quarterly results. It also missed targets for new subscribers overseas.
“India is a mobile-first nation, where many first-time users are experiencing the Internet on their phones. In such a scenario, a mobile-only package makes sense to target new users,” said Tarun Pathak, analyst at Counterpoint Research.
The creator of “Stranger Things” and “The Crown” said in March that it was testing a 250-rupee ($3.63) monthly subscription for mobile devices in India, where data plans are among the cheapest in the world.
The country figures prominently in Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings’ global expansion plans.
“We believe this plan, which will launch in the third quarter, will be an effective way to introduce a larger number of people in India to Netflix and to further expand our business,” the company said in a letter to investors released late on Wednesday.
Netflix currently offers three monthly plans in India, priced between 500 rupees ($7.27) and 800 rupees $11.63).
It has created a niche following in the country by launching local original shows like the thriller “Sacred Games” and dystopian tale “Leila,” which feature popular Bollywood actors.
The second season of “Sacred Games” is set to release in August.
In contrast, Hotstar, which also offers content from AT&T Inc’s HBO and also streams live sports, charges 299 rupees ($4.35) per month. Amazon bundles its video and music streaming services with its Prime membership.
“We’ve been seeing nice steady increases in engagement with our Indian viewers that we think we can keep building on. Growth in that country is a marathon, so we’re in it for the long haul,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said.