Improving the image

February 14, 2016
Samar Al Mugrin
Samar Al Mugrin
Samar Al-Mogren

Samar Al-Mogren

I believe the main reason for the Western media carrying wrong information about Saudi Arabia is the incomplete picture they have about our country, rather than the conspiracy theory.

Despite strenuous government efforts to invite Western journalists and other prominent personalities to the Kingdom, the media in the West still projects a wrong picture of our country.

In my opinion, this may be because of our failure to interact with the West properly and present the real picture of the Kingdom, including positive and negative aspects.

This means we have to rethink and change our plans including the program titled “Improving the Kingdom’s Image,” which was an utter failure.
We should be reasonable in our evaluation and approach. Since we have been unsuccessful in conveying our reality even to the Arab world, how can we claim success with the non-Arab world?

Let me make it clearer. Writers and intellectuals like me are considered the best ambassadors of the Kingdom abroad. But in some Arab countries people look at us with wonder as they could not believe there are intellectuals among Saudi women whom they consider as an oppressed community.

If this is the case of Arab countries we can imagine what would be the opinion of Western world about Saudi Arabia, its people and culture?
I think we have to stop the program aimed at painting a good image of Saudi Arabia. The idea itself is artificial and is similar to an individual who acts in front of his guests, giving a totally different picture of his family.

First of all, we need not be concerned with Western criticism more than required. We should project our real natural picture and enact civil laws that would close the mouth of critics who usually feed the Western press with leads to attack Saudi Arabia.

The contrived programs and the spending of huge amount on improving image have been found useless. I have noticed that the Western press has taken Saudi women’s participation in the municipal council elections negatively, although it was a major cultural achievement.

I would like to reemphasize here that change in civil regulations would make the difference. We don’t need Western journalists to stand by us or special committees to improve image. What we need are regulations that will bring about changes within our country and change our own look to ourselves before others. We have seen some extremists standing against the sexual harassment law. Think for a while what would have been the impact if the law had been passed?

Saudi embassies, consulates and other missions have an important role to play in improving the Kingdom’s image abroad. I remember an event organized by the Saudi Embassy in Paris four years ago, which brought together Saudi and Arab intellectuals with their French counterparts. It had a remarkable impact. I hope all other embassies would implement similar programs, following the good example set by the Saudi ambassador in France.

We should change all our plans and programs to influence the Western media. Before that we have to change ourselves and we should end the program titled “Improving the Kingdom’s Image” because it implies that we admit our image is bad. This is not true.

Of course, there were shortcomings in our endeavor to convey our real image to others including human rights organizations. We should understand that these organizations just carry the reports they receive from some of our enemies who want to tarnish the Kingdom’s image. Moreover, we have failed to provide them with correct information through capable individuals.

February 14, 2016