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Rania Unveiled | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Rania Unveiled

Rania Unveiled

Rania Unveiled

After a long absence and the delight of her legion of fans, the Saudi presenter Rania al Baz has returned to television screens for the first time since being a victim of domestic abuse and suffering multiple fractures to her face. The “new” Rania appeared on al Arabiya television on “Sabah al Arabiya (Good Morning al Arabiya) without her veil, the first Saudi television presenter to do so, in what many have described as a bold move. Despite much curiosity amongst audience members and the media, Rania refused to discuss the issue of the veil or reveal the identity of her stylist. Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al Awsat, the presenter revealed the emotional difficulties she faced after being attacked by her ex-husband.

Q: Rania al Baz, a warm welcome to you!

A: (Smiling) Thank you and God bless!

Q: Looking at you, I can see no scares. Have you also recovered psychologically and emotionally?

A: Everybody these days seems to be suffering from something and I am no different to anybody else in that respect. I am hopeful for the future and believe in the English saying, &#34Great crises produce great men&#34. No one should let themselves be consumed by the difficulties they encounter. It’s important to remember life is always full of surprises.

Q: Your appearance in al Arabiya was a pleasant surprise. Why wasn’t your comeback announced earlier?

A: I’m not too sure. Some media channels did reveal I was joining al Arabiya three days before I returned.

Q: It was even more astonishing to see you without the veil. You’re probably the first Saudi presenter to do so. Can you elaborate on the reasons for this? Did you take the decision yourself or did the channel make the suggestion?

A: No comment!

Q: Can you tell us more about your stylist? Are your outfits chosen by your personally or decided by professional at the television channel?

A: No comment!

Q: You appeared on al Arabiya as a special host and for two weeks only. Why is that so?

A: As you know, I live in Jeddah. Moving to Dubai where al Arabiya is based for good requires time and effort. I have yet to decide if I will make my move permanent.

Q: You mentioned in a previous interview you needed more time to get used to the hustle and bustle of Dubai which was understood as a sign you hoped to settle there. Why Dubai in particular?

A: Countries in the region are similar to each other. Jeddah and Dubai have much in common. The latter is a beautiful city with a prosperous free economy and is home to different nationalities. Living there would represent an excellent opportunity to learn about other cultures and exchange ideas.

Q: What difference did you experience between your involvement with Saudi national television and al Arabiya?

A: State channels are different from private channel in their attitude and orientation. I will not deny that my first home was Saudi state TV; it gave me my first platform and I am forever grateful. As for presenting at al Arabiya, it has been very exciting. I am currently working with qualified and professional reporters that are specialized in reporting news and presenting objective programs as the audience already know.

Q: Did you notice any differences between the two?

A: Privately owned television stations such as al Arabiya are more concerned with the presenter and the news material. There’s also an emphasis on exclusive breaking news stories.

Q: So far, on Saudi television and al Arabiya, you have only presented morning television shows. Are you not interested in news bulletins or any other program?

A: I have presented a number of talk shows and children programs. I hate having to wake up early but I always seem to end up presenting morning shows. It’s just a coincidence!

Q: If you continue with al Arabiya, would you rather work at night?

A: I hate getting up early but I find myself obliged to if not for work than to pray and prepare breakfast for my children.

Q: You appearance on the Oprah Winfrey caused some controversy. What is your position on the matter?

A: I am very satisfied about my appearance yet criticism is always hard to take.

Q: Were you aware of the script before going on air?

A: Yes I was.

Q: A Saudi journalist who produced the segment wrote in a Saudi publication that you were not aware of show”s theme.

A: I watched the Oprah Winfrey show afterwards and found nothing that harmed Saudi women. I knew the program would feature an overview of battered women. Nothing in the show damaged the Kingdom. Oprah did not show any preference in her treatment of women victims of domestic abuse. I am totally satisfied about the show.

Q: Your case generated a lot of debate. Have you considered specializing in issues relating to violence against women?

A: I am active with a number of non-governmental organizations that focus on domestic violence. I am the head of the media division for groups in Paris as well as responsible for the Middle East region at the French association “Not Obedient, Not Submissive”.

Q: Finally, if you ever become involved with the press, would you prefer to write editorials or analyses?

A: I was briefly involved in journalism and may one day returned. I worked with Mohammed al Wail at al Youm or al Jazirah; I don’t remember. We soon parted ways because of travel and other commitments.