Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim

By : Abdulateef Al-Mulhim

Before the mushrooming of satellite dishes on our rooftops, the Arab world heavily relied on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for reports from across the world. The BBC was founded decades ago and with the passage of time, it initiated its services in various world languages. The BBC Arabic Service, established in 1938, gained immense popularity and emerged as one of the most trusted news sources in this part of the world mainly due to the absence of a proper local media network. At that time, many countries did not even have their state-run radio or television stations or if they did have, their coverage was very limited.

The number of listeners in the region hiked and the BBC gained more popularity after the 1967 war when it revealed to the joyful Arab masses the sad but true outcome of the war between the Arabs and Israelis. Since then the BBC became the most reliable source to verify any report about any event taking place in the Arab world or the Middle East to be more precise. What the BBC reported was accepted without any doubt among the Arab masses.

During those days, there were limited opportunities for women in the Arab world and especially Saudi Arabia in the media world. So, international media outlets were out of the question and out of reach but not for a very young Saudi woman with the name Huda Al-Rasheed. Many years before the communication revolution and the age of the Internet, Huda Al-Rasheed undertook the biggest challenge of her career by joining the most famous broadcasting company. She also became the first Saudi anchorwoman to work for the BBC Arabic in the British capital. Her voice became the most distinguished on the radio waves all over the Arab world and the Middle East and her news broadcasting opening words, Huna London (This is London) became as famous in the area as the words of America’s CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite. Ironically, many years ago I met Cronkite but never got the opportunity to meet Huda Al-Rasheed.

As for Al-Rasheed, the road had not been very smooth. In an interview, she shed light on her journey to fame with Nadin Albdearto at the Etijahat program on Rotana Khalijiah TV. She met many challenges. She was very young and she wanted to go abroad to study English at first. But, her mind was set for a bigger role. Her ambition was so high it was touching the rainbow of an English rainy day. She applied for a job there at the BBC and took an exam and headed back to Saudi Arabia. Few months passed and the news came from London that she passed all the requirements and there was a job opening for her and she was welcome if she were still interested. This time her father gave the green light and she headed to London. As time passed her voice became the most recognized voice in the Arab world and her distinguished style of news reading and her achievements became a source of inspiration for many women in Saudi Arabia. It is true that where there is a will, there is a way.

After leaving her job, she chose to stay low-key but people still remember her voice. People in the Arab world still listen to the BBC for extensive coverage of world events and analysis but for many years, the BBC was known by a young Saudi young woman who said the famous words of Huna London. Al-Rasheed should be given more recognition. Many say that she is the biggest achiever among Saudi women.

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