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International Women’s Day: Time for Arab female sports journalists to shine, break bias

RIYADH: International Women’s Day is a special occasion when the world is called upon to spread the message of gender equality.

And it is a message that is poignant across the Arab world at a time of constant change and development.

Great strides have been taken in recent years in closing the gap between men and women in the workforce, but more work is needed.

Under the theme, #BreakTheBias, the International Women’s Day 2022 campaign aims to promote a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination for women.

And for the region’s female journalists, in particular, there is considerable room for improvement.

Women have been increasingly proactive in the media, especially in news broadcasting, over recent decades but unfortunately still trail behind in the sports segment.

As a woman passionate about sports and having started my career as a professional tennis player in Lebanon, my love to cover sports did not stop there and fueled me to become a journalist covering all kinds of activities including football, tennis, UFC, and Formula 1.

There has never been a better time to enter sports media as the Arab world, and in particular the Gulf Cooperation Council, continues to host some of the biggest international sporting events. Top athletes from football, UFC, tennis, F1, golf, and horse racing have been among those descending on the region to participate in long-established, world-class sports events.

In Saudi Arabia, the rate of progress in just a few years has been remarkable.

Crucially, more female athletes are taking part in competitions alongside male counterparts, such as in the Saudi Cup and several motor racing categories, or in their own competitions including the Saudi Ladies International golf tournament which takes place next week in Jeddah.

Barely a week now passes without more additions to the female sporting calendar. Only last month, for example, the Kingdom’s women’s national football team made its international debut, beating Seychelles 2-0, a landmark event that brought messages of praise from around the globe including from Brazilian legend Pele.

With the number of female athletes constantly rising, it is only right that proportional representation should come from female reporters.

It is time for Arab women to be a part of the experience and cover these championships in-person.

As the world recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, the sports industry is one of the leading sectors flourishing in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain will each hold a Formula 1 Grand Prix this year, while Qatar hosts the FIFA World Cup 2022, the first time the football tournament will have taken place in the Middle East.

In addition to the series of events in Saudi Arabia, the Emirates is ready to host global meetings covering UFC, NBA basketball, and tennis championships, and with other GCC countries also working on hosting global sporting events this year, opportunities for journalists are on the rise.

To all Arab female sports journalists out there, join me in the media center to help #BreakTheBias and be part of history.


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