April 29, 2017

Middle Eastern journalists meet with communications students

Tahani Aljehani broke barriers in Saudi Arabia when she became the first female anchor for the Dubai-based Al Arabiya News Channel.

Al Arabiya News Channel is part of the Middle East Broadcast Center (MBC), which is owned by Saudi businessman Waleed Al Ibrahim.

Aljehani said while her ambitions were challenging. She has had a passion for journalism since her childhood.

“My advice is that journalism requires knowledge, credibility and continuous development,” Aljehani said.

Aljehani traveled with a group of 13 journalists from eight different Middle Eastern and North African countries to Webster University for a question and answer session Friday, April 14. The event was organized by the St. Louis World Affairs Council and the U.S. State Department.

World Affairs Council of St. Louis Program Manager Josh Lange works with the State Department in organizing events for international journalists.

“I’m in charge of setting up all of the group’s meetings, reserving their hotel rooms and their transportation,” Lange said. “It can definitely be a challenge when I have to wait for people to get back to me regarding potential meetings, especially when there is always a deadline.”

Aljehani studied journalism at King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia and obtained her executive MBA there.

According to Sky News bureau chief Hamad Al Mahmoud, not all Middle Eastern journalists have a degree.

“In Saudi [Arabia] and many other Arab countries, we have a number of very prominent journalist figures who have never studied a day in any university,” Mahmoud said. “They rely solely on talent.”

Lange said Middle Eastern journalists often have different viewpoints on issues, especially on foreign policy, than their Western counterparts. He also said international journalists are fascinated about First Amendment rights journalist in the U.S. enjoy.

“I believe women in some Arab countries that have historically had less rights than men will eventually be given more rights,” Lange said. “However, I don’t believe this will happen overnight. It will be a gradual shift that could take years.”

In 2000, Aljehani started her journalism career. She became a producer for LBC in 2007 and joined MBC in 2008. She debuted as an anchor for Al Arabiya News Channel in 2012.

Aljehani said it was a nice feeling she has found acceptance and encouragement from her society and family.

“It’s a different model for women in the media and politics,” Aljehani said. “So, I found a lot of support from the people I’m working for and the audience.

Aljehani said she hopes more Saudi women can get involved in the media and politics.

“Maybe we need more legal support to gain our rights, but there are a lot of rights we enjoy as well,” Aljehani said.

 

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