When Munira Abdullah went to bed on Thursday night she was just another one of many Saudi women newly empowered and independent because of a raft of amendments to the Kingdom’s laws.
By the time she woke up on Friday morning she was an internet sensation — thanks to a photo snapped on the spur of the moment in a Riyadh cinema foyer.
The picture shows Munira hugging a giant portrait of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and perfectly captured the emotions of many Saudi women in the wake of the new legal amendments.
“What drove me to have this picture taken is my admiration and deep gratitude toward the crown prince,” Munira, 30, an education technology resources specialist from Taif, told Arab News.
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“There was no planning,” she said. “I went to watch a movie at the cinema in Al-Qasr Mall for the first time in my life, and I was very happy and grateful.
“On my way out, I saw the portrait and rushed to hug it, and my sister took the picture and documented these beautiful emotions.”
The photo not only took Twitter by storm, it also made the front page of Arab News on Saturday. Now Munira is fielding a barrage of comments on social media from other women who say she has summed up exactly how they feel.
“They all say, ‘Thank you for conveying our emotions about the crown prince’,” she said.
“I feel gratitude and joy for their joy too and I continue to reply to them to this day.”
The legal changes, announced by royal decree, strengthen women’s rights in the areas of labor, travel, social insurance and civil status, and reduce the role of male guardians.