Al-Saqaf about her medal: It’s an honor for all Saudi women

February 10, 2018
Hassan Cheruppa

Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH – Renowned Saudi writer and academic Dr. Khairiyah Al-Saqaf thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for honoring her with the King Abdulaziz First Class Medal. “It is an honor from the nation, represented by the King, to me as well as all women in Saudi Arabia,” she said.

King Salman presented Al-Saqaf with the medal during the opening ceremony of the 32nd National Festi¬val for Heritage and Culture in Janadriya outside Riyadh on Wednesday.

In addition to Al-Saqaf, the King posthumously honored former Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal and veteran media figure Dr. Turki Al-Sudairi.

Al-Saqaf described the King as a leader with outstanding characteristics who has been playing influential role in elevating the prestige of Saudi women. “King Salman was the first to support me in my appointment as the first woman managing editor in a daily newspaper in Saudi Arabia and he was the first to congratulate me while assumed the post. The King personally asked me to take up the chair of the women’s committee for the centenary celebrations of the Kingdom’s founding,” she said.

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Arabic language and literature from King Saud University (KSU) of Riyadh, Al-Saqaf did her Master’s degree in language curriculum and teaching methods from Columbia University, Missouri, US. She obtained her PhD from Riyadh’s Imam Muhammad Bin Saud University.

Al-Saqaf started her journalistic career in her 20s and was elevated as the managing editor of Al-Riyadh daily in 1980s. She was the first woman to hold such a key post in a daily newspaper on the Arabian Peninsula. The credit for writing daily columns in newspapers by a woman writer in the Kingdom goes to Al-Saqaf. She was also the first to write literary articles for broadcasting on a daily basis. She served as the supervisor of the first supplement for women readers in a local daily newspaper.

Later, she switched over to academic field and was appointed deputy president for girls’ faculties at KSU and thus becoming the first Saudi woman vice president of a Saudi university. She also worked as dean of the University Studies Center at KSU.

Al-Saqaf’s fame as a writer spread beyond the borders of Saudi Arabia and the Arab world as an author of a number of well-known books, the most important of them in science and literature. “To Sail Toward Dimensions” published in 1982 is a collection of 18 short stories. Her books also include “Dilemma in the Equation”, “When Blowing the wind During Stormy Rain,” and “Weakness of the Classical Arabic and the Absence of Scientific Research Methods”.

She has three books in English to her credit. Collections of short stories and essays by Al-Saqaf and other Saudi women writers, they include “The Literature of Modern Arabia: An Anthology”, “Assassination of Light: Modern Saudi Short Stories”, and “Voice of Change: Short Stories by Saudi Arabian Women Writers.”

Her works have been translated into five languages: English, Italian, Polish, Korean and Russian.

Al-Saqaf participated in several scientific and literary conferences within the Kingdom and abroad, and represented her country in many international forums. She also attended the first session of the literary forum between South Korea and the Arabs in 2008, with her research paper on “Women’s literature in Saudi Arabia.”

Al-Saqaf has won several awards and certificates of appreciation in the fields of literature, media and women’s leadership. She was chosen as the outstanding Saudi woman personality when Riyadh was named the 2000 Arab Capital of Culture. She has also won the award of the Ministry of Haj and Umrah for literary excellence in 2014, and media excellence award of Sayyidati Magazine in 2015.

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