Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour: Arab women are ‘sassy’ and strong, not victims

Saudi Arabian independent filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour delivers a speech during a ceremony ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2019 annual meeting, on January 21, 2019 in Davos, eastern Switzerland. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 January 2019

Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour: Arab women are ‘sassy’ and strong, not victims

DAVOS: One of the biggest misconceptions about Arab women is that they are victims — but they are in fact “sassy,” according to Haifaa Al-Mansour, Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker.

Speaking on Wednesday during a panel at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Al-Mansour discussed the various judgements made about women from the region.

“All the scripts I get about Muslim and Arab women (imply they are) all victims and sad,” she said. “But we are very sassy, we are very strong, so don’t take us for granted.”

Al-Mansour explained that although some Arab women are constricted for various reasons, it is not accurate to view all Arab women in this way.  

“We are way more than what they think Arab women are,” she said.

Reflecting on her personal journey, Al-Mansour explained that although she comes from a conservative society, social norms are changing.

“I knew I came from a society where women are expected to take a more traditional role, but I feel this is changing because I now feel more celebrated at home,” she said.

Saudi Arabia has seen a push in social reform spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman through Vision 2030, an initiative that aims to broaden the Saudi economy. Major recent changes in the Kingdom include lifting the driving ban on women and reopening cinemas.

“Saudi Arabia is building its arts and culture industry, and that’s where we should put our energy,” Al-Mansour said.

Speaking about Saudi women entering the workforce in the Kingdom, Al-Mansour stressed the need for women to “support each other” on the professional playing field.

“Women don’t want to be marginalized any more — that’s why we see things like the #MeToo movement,” she said.

On an international level, Al-Mansour argued that we should get beyond thinking about East and West and concentrate on working together to achieve something universal.


Saudi minister hails ‘special relationship’ with Japan

Updated 22 October 2019

Saudi minister hails ‘special relationship’ with Japan

  • “We share common values,” said Majid Al-Qasabi

TOKYO: Saudi Arabia has a “special relationship” with Japan, which is “reliable strategic partner and friend” of the Kingdom, the Saudi Minister for Commerce and Investment Majid Al-Qasabi said on Monday.

The minister was speaking at the launch in Tokyo of the Japanese-language online edition of Arab News, in the latest stage of its global expansion. The event came on the eve of Tuesday’s ceremonial enthronement of Emperor Naruhito in the Japanese capital. “This is a great opportunity, a moment in history,” Al-Qasabi said.

The news website, published in Japanese and English, will focus on enabling the exchange of information between Japan and the Arab world in business, current affairs, and arts and culture. “It will be good to have news in Japanese so many Japanese can read about the Arab world,” Japan’s Defense Minister Taro Kono said at the launch.

Common values

“We share common values, we have a high respect for the elders and we think that the family is very important … to me we are friends and I think we need to work together.

“In order to do that we need to know what people in the Middle East are actually thinking, what is happening on a daily basis, and we haven’t got the source for that — but now Arab News is in Japan.

“This is a very good means to exchange information between the Middle East and Japan, so I am very much looking forward to it.”