Student was one of first women to gain journalism degree in Saudi Arabia


Heba Meer


Postgrad student Heba Meer was one of the first women to gain a journalism BA in her home country of Saudi Arabia.

Heba, 28, was one of 40 women to graduate in 2010 from King Abdulaziz University in her home city of Jeddah, the university to offer a journalism BA for women.

There weren’t enough female journalism lecturers to do all the teaching so Heba and her classmates had a video link to male tutors delivering lectures to male students.

Heba, who moved to the UK two years ago, said: “Women who wanted to be journalists used to have to go to university in other countries like Egypt, Sudan or Jordan.

“Journalism wasn’t seen as a suitable job for women and ten years ago women could not appear on TV screens, but that has changed now.

“Now there are more women working in journalism, on TV and in newspapers and magazines.”

Heba’s mum, who is half-Egyptian and half-Saudi, had always wanted to be a journalist and she encouraged Heba to study journalism. Her dad was supportive too.

“They were happy for me to go into journalism. From a young age I was always trying to get information out of people and was never shy about talking to people. I also liked writing in many different styles.”

Heba and two friends won recognition for setting up a student radio station, the first time it had been done. They broadcast a four-hour show each week and interviewed guests and discussed issues of interest to students.

When Heba graduated it was still difficult for women to get work as a journalist and she decided instead to go back to her university and join the teaching staff.

She worked as a journalism teaching assistant for four years before gaining a scholarship to come to the UK to study.

After graduating later this year, Heba, who is married and has a four-year-old son, is hoping to stay in the UK to study for a PhD.

She said: “I like the lifestyle here and my one year at SHU has been like ten years in Saudi Arabia, in terms of the amounts of experiences I’ve had.”