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September 19, 2008

Oprah Resonating With Saudi Arabian Women

As Oprah Winfrey's trademarked brand of female empowerment beams into living rooms and hair salons across the U.S., her show is also resonating with women in Saudi Arabia, as reported by
Katherine Zoepf of The New York Times.

When "The Oprah Winfrey Show" was first broadcast in Saudi Arabia in November 2004 on a Dubai-based satellite channel, it became an immediate sensation among young Saudi women. Within months, it had become the highest-rated English-language program among women 25 and younger, an age group that makes up about a third of Saudi Arabia's population.

In a country where the sexes are rigorously separated, where topics like sex and race are rarely discussed openly and where a strict code of public morality is enforced by religious police called hai'a, Ms. Winfrey provides many young Saudi women with new ways of thinking about the way local taboos affect their lives -- as well as about a variety of issues including childhood sexual abuse and coping with marital strife -- without striking them, or Saudi Arabia's ruling authorities, as subversive. continue reading

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