KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia: When Allegra Salvadori stepped off a plane at 6 a.m. on Tuesday morning from Dubai to Jeddah, she had no clue her entire perception of Saudi women would be changed at the Arab Women Forum.
The Italian journalist and Italian Senate candidate told Arab News she could have slept for an hour on the way to King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Rabigh, but said she experienced the jitters at the prospect of coming to Saudi Arabia for the first time.
“I had been given the wrong image of Arab women, which had been portrayed by the media – it was the wrong concept and a misrepresentation, especially in Saudi Arabia,” she explained.
“Instead, it’s very nice to come in person to witness that things are different. I’m only here for a day but it’s a very rich day because I’ve had an opportunity to talk to clever women that stand out, who’ve created opportunities for themselves and know exactly what they want and know that there’s a vision to what they want to achieve.”
Salvadori admits the gap, whether in gender equality or salary equality, is a global issue, and it exists in Italy as well, whether in poor political representation and women’s roles. It is only being discussed more in Saudi Arabia because it is a country that is undergoing major changes, making it more evident.
There is not one right way to solve it either, Salvadori said. “The problem is the same worldwide, but countries approach it differently.”
As an experienced woman in the field of journalism, having written for the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and Huffington Post, she advises Saudi women who are boarding the male-dominated media train to remain truthful.
“Things are always changing, so never follow what’s already been said. Witness the change. Be the change. Sometimes, there are restrictions, dangers, and things that can’t be told or written, and it’s the same all over the world, but always follow your instinct.
“As journalists, we are informing people and if we tell it in the wrong way then we’re creating a vicious circle and affecting culture.”
- Allegra Salvadori spoke at the Arab Women Forum on Tuesday about Political Representation; she is a senate candidate of the Italian Republic in Africa, Asia and Australia, and represents over 270,000 of her people in these continents.