This week, I listened to a podcast by NZZ – Neue Zürcher Zeitung, a premier Swiss news source, titled “Infantionos WM in Saudi Arabien.” https://podcasts.apple.com/de/podcast/nzz-akzent/id1506761994?i=1000635491190
The podcast, delivered in German, discussed Saudi Arabia’s bid for hosting the 2034. I was taken aback by the inaccuracies regarding Saudi women presented in the episode. The NZZ sports journalist Sebastian Bräuer, who commented on the bid, mentioned guardianship laws over women as a point of concern. However, as a Saudi woman, I find this perplexing because guardianship laws have significantly loosened since 2017 and now no longer exist. For instance, women have been able to obtain their driving licenses since 2017, and since then, all major guardianship restrictions have been lifted, including those related to employment, renting, legal appeals, and travel. In addition, a woman can report her father, husband if they hinder any of her rights.
In the past, misconceptions about guardianship laws were widespread; for example, the false belief that Saudi girls couldn’t attend school without a male guardian. What’s baffling now is the persistence of these outdated views, especially given the public nature of Saudi reforms, particularly those concerning women’s rights. It’s perplexing why some Western media outlets and journalists still associate Saudi Arabia with these old guardianship norms. This leads me to ponder: what more can be done to shift this narrative? How can we foster constructive cultural dialogue and understanding if well-known media platforms like NZZ continue to propagate misinformation?