JEDDAH: An iconic image of a Saudi woman driving by “New Yorker” illustrator Malika Favre, commissioned by Arab News for the cover of its souvenir edition on June 24, has been shared around the world.
An hour before women started driving just after midnight on Sunday, Favre posted the illustration she did for Arab News on her Instagram account, along with an animated version, with a heartwarming message.
“So excited to reveal this very special @arabnews cover celebrating Saudi Arabian women finally steering the wheel for the first time today 24th June 2018!!,” said the French artist, who is based in London. She also challenged people to re-enact the image, as was done with her famous cover of female surgeons for The New Yorker.
“We have been overwhelmed by the popular reaction to the image, which capped a week’s worth of special coverage,” said Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief of Arab News. “Our team, particularly the women of Arab News, feel very proud to have been part of this historic day, giving it the attention it deserves both editorially and artistically.”
The image, of the road reflected in a woman’s sunglasses, has become one of the most retweeted artworks celebrating the occasion on Twitter.
Many prominent figures have also shared the fabulous design by Favre on their social media. Saudi Princess Reema bint Bandar reposted it on Twitter, along with several prominent media personalities, including CNBC’s Hadley Gamble, Al Arabiya News Channel’s Rima Maktabi and Sarah Dandarawi, a Saudi TV presenter who tweeted: “What a brilliant special edition…”.
— Arab News (@arabnews) June 25, 2018
Kinda Ibrahim, partnerships director of Twitter MENA, said: “Thank you @arabnews for the special edition,” while Irish journalist Naomi O’Leary said: “Love this detail of the hands on the wheel.” Arab News’ coverage, including the artwork, has been featured in different languages, including Arabic, Russian, Urdu and Malayalam.
Mainstream media also picked up on Arab News’ coverage with wire services such as Reuters and renowned dailies such as the UK’s Daily Telegraph pointing pointing out to the front page headline which read ‘Independence Day’. “Arab News celebrated women driving by adorning the cover of their pages through an illustration design by French artist Malika Favre; along with the design, embellished with colors of the Saudi Arabian flag, came the logo ‘Start your engines,” reported the news website of the Arab television network, Rotana. Meanwhile, CNN International also referred to the Arab News coverage while Canada’s CTV hosted Arab News staff to talk about the coverage.
On the diplomatic front, several ambassadors serving in Saudi Arabia have written to congratulate Arab News on its coverage. The official Twitter account of the embassy of Italy in Riyadh, @ItalyinKSA, posted a message displaying a number of artists’ entries on women driving. Saudis have also retweeted it, along with other artworks commemorating the historical occasion.
Through a special collaboration with 21Wallpaper, many have used Favre’s artwork as their avatar photo, Twitter banner, phone and Apple Watch screensaver and desktop wallpaper. The artwork became available to Arab News readers and viewers an hour before the driving ban was officially lifted; it is now the most downloaded illustration on the website during the short period it has been available.
• Download our free #SaudiWomenCanDrive mobile phone background designed by renowned artist Malika Favre: https://startyourengines.21wallpaper.design