Al-Faiz in the TIME 100

norah_alfaiz_2In their annual TIME 100 issue, Time magazine named Norah al-Faiz, the new Saudi deputy minister of education, as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. I have nothing against al-Faiz, but I think that the magazine is overestimating her influence. The woman has been in office for less than 3 months. Her most talked about decision was a directive she sent to schools warning the students of the perils of reality TV shows. I’m not trying to pick on her, but I think it is way too early to try to assess her performance or influence.

Now the selection of al-Faiz by Time might be questionable, but how the Saudi media handled the news is just laughable. They reacted orgasmically, saying she came ahead of Obama and his wife! Does it really take a genius to realize that the list published on the website is not ordered according to influence? Probably not, but it is exactly this kind of idiocy that makes me despise Saudi media.

Again, I want to repeat that I have nothing against al-Faiz, but I believe that a critical analysis for the performance of her department could be much more useful than celebrating a fake victory.

24 thoughts on “Al-Faiz in the TIME 100

  1. Well I don’t really think they meant it as her being one of the top influential people through what she’s done or doing at the job; I think it’s more because of the importance and significance of her getting the job in the first place, and how she was the one to “open the door” for women into government in Saudi Arabia.

  2. Does anyone actually know what her policy views are on any specific topics?

    Does anyone know what, if any changes she has implemented based on such policy views?

  3. Well… as far as I know, she’s not been doing much… The little that I know is about the issue with her photo (face uncovered but otherwise covered) being published in the newspaper and her anger over that… and this thing about reality TV shows (I think a deputy minister has better things to do than administer that kind of directive).

    But the Times article suggests that she welcomes women into her office, something they were unable to do before, and will have meetings via television circuits with her male counterparts…. I guess you could say that says something positive about her.

    I’d like to know about the other things that she’s done… if any women have actually gone to her office for any issues or complaints and how she’s received them and handled them. I’d like to know the REAL stuff.

  4. If Norah AL-Faiz isn’t influential, I wouldn’t know who is!!!
    She has Prince Faisal’s ear, who has King Abdullah’s ear. If there is any lady in this country that can get her views across all the way to the top, it is she. SHE HAS DIRECT ACCESS.
    I’m sure it is a big burden on her. I hope she’ll be up to the task of fighting very well organized and brutal old guards at her Ministry who are capable of anything.

    • So because she can tell her boss to tell his boss something counts as one of the most influential people in the world?

      No that isn’t Direct Access. That’s called a roundabout.

  5. “more because of the importance and significance of her getting the job in the first place, and how she was the one to “open the door” for women into government in Saudi Arabia.”

    I think this is a very true statement. I don’t know who the jokers are who make these lists, but I personally would not get too serious over them.


  6. Not even the most rich lists are 100% real…
    they mix personal wealth with company’s wealth, and it’s not the same even f its 100% yours.

    Well I guess she’s in the list not for her real power but for the fact she’s got that position in a men’s world. I guess it’s just a marketing plan, “hey look, we’re opening to the world”. Because if the rest don’t have chances to held similar’s not a real improvement, just fictitious…

  7. You are right, Ahmed, that it is too early to judge her achievements. For sure she is not among the 100 most influential people in the world. What put her in the TIME list is not her being influential, but rather the fact that women are admitted to Saudi government, which is a significant step towards reforms.

    Now in Saudi Arabia there are many people who think changes are happening too slow. Also there are many people who think changes are happening too fast.

    King Faisal was a great reformer. When he introduced television in 1963, he had to convince the conservatives — so he broadcasted a lot of religious content, to show the conservatives that TV can be a good thing.

    Now if King Abdullah admits a woman to government, of course there are plenty of people who would oppose this idea because they would prefer women to stay home with their family instead of getting all this public attention. That’s why King Abdullah needs to show to the conservatives that a lady in government is not so bad after all. So he makes her say things that the conservatives like to hear.

    Later on, when there is more acceptance of women in government, Noora Al Faiz, or her successor might start slowly to raise a few issues that really matter. For instance, the fact that women in saudi arabia receive an excellent education, giving them often better qualification for the labour market than their male counterparts, but then, a ridiculous small percentage of women ever get the chance to take up work. This will eventually question the strict gender segregation at work, and it will question the concept of mahram being able to forbid her taking up the job that she likes. (not every mahram is nice as mohanad)

    Well, it’s a long way to go…

  8. Until when ,we Saudis realize that we are way behind , sitting in the last row of civilization of the world…Why don’t we just make it easy for ladies to mix and uncover ,so simple,so straightforward ..We are putting a heavy steel cover on such a valuable resource : Women thinking that they are just there on earth to surf man purpose ( What a wrongful ideology .What a waste ) .Nourah happens to be just one thing ,too little , too late.

  9. The whole Time 100 is pretty silly. These are supposed to be the most influential people in the world but I I haven’t heard of nearly 50-60% of the people on the list.

    Also, being on the list with a 4channer whose claim to fame was make a lame internet joke is almost an insult.

  10. In politics being part of the inner circle counts as direct access.
    You can take it literally if you want. But it isn’t what I meant.
    Influencing policy making bodies calls for the designation “An influential person” in politics.
    Being one of the most influential politically in a country, is having your opinion heard and considered by the ultimate authority.
    The list is of no significance to me nor to her. But she is who she is. Even if all they meant was the fact that a lady became a deputy minister in Saudi!

  11. The whole Time 100 is pretty silly. These are supposed to be the most influential people in the world but I I haven’t heard of nearly 50-60% of the people on the list.

    I would like to point out that just because people haven’t “heard” about a person’s work doesn’t mean that they aren’t influential.

    Some people actually just do their work instead of seeking fame for fame’s sake.

    I myself didn’t recognize many of the scientists on that list. But of course, their work is often important to the world on a global level.

    Not that Times isn’t a shallow, often out of touch rag that’s barely holding onto credibility as a news source when it decides to compromise its journalistic integrity by covering the antics of pop stars when there is actually NEWS to cover.

  12. The Time list is for US consumption and it is designed to attract attention. Why the put a Saudi woman on the list, I do not know, but it did attract attention so I guess it did its job.

  13. I agree, it isn’t about her influence as much as it’s about her position. It is funny how the Saudi media reacts to most things. Agl 7aja nifra7 3lyha. Most of these lists are jokes, indeed. Thnx for sharing.

  14. I don’t know much about her, but I read the story about her in the Time, I hope it’s going to be an encouragement for Saudi women to aspire to inspire!

  15. I think that she’s going to do a horrible job in her position, and that people are going to realize that, and then the people with mentalities are gonna go like “oh she’s a woman, no wonder she didn’t do anything.” and the government will have yet another lame pretext for not giving women any high positions in the government.
    There are many more qualified people for the job. One of them should’ve been chosen in stead.

    Oh, and Ahmed, I just love your blog more and more after every new post.

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