Saudi Women Playwrights Upset Over Gender Discrimination

Members of Saudi Arabia’s Madinah Women Writers Association expressed frustration after they were excluded from participating at the King Fahd Park Theatrical Competition because they are women, Al-Watan daily reported.

Madinah Women Writers Association head Jamal Al-Saadi said she and her colleagues are devastated at being excluded from many theatrical activities organized by the city.

“The latest incident was the competition for theatrical performances organized in King Fahd Park Theater. Madinah Municipality excluded us from the competition although the conditions for the competition did not state it was for men only,” said Al-Saadi.

She added there have been many instances of a lack of appreciation for the pieces of literature women writers in Madinah have to offer.

“We have had multiple theatrical productions under Madinah Society for Culture and Art and we had a great turn-up. The municipality rejected our participation in the competition because there wasn’t a panel of women judges,” said Al-Saadi. She added the fact that the municipality views their excuse as valid shows that it does not appreciate the art the group offers to the community.

“We have a great group of writers such as Mariam Al-Harthy who wrote ‘Malik Siwak’ and ‘Snow-white’ and Milha Al-Abdullah who wrote ‘Halmoush’. Not having women judges is not a valid excuse. They should have known that there is a great cadre of women playwrights and actresses who would want to participate in the competition,” said Al-Saadi.

Madinah Municipality Public Security and Social Services Director Muhammad Al-Murdif said the competition received a lot of participants from Madinah and other cities.

“The judges had to choose eight finalists. Five of the finalists were from Madinah and the three from other regions in the Kingdom. The competition is judged by three people chosen by the Madinah Society for Culture and Art Judging Committee,” said Al-Murdif.

He added the municipality left the theatrical details of the competition to its experts.

“The committee was headed by Turaif Hashim, the head of Madinah Society for Culture and Art. He was the one who chose the judges and we cannot have men judge a performance done by women,” said Al-Murdif.


This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Sunday August 02, 2015.

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