Somayya Anwar Jabarti holds the unique distinction of being the first woman Editor- in-Chief of a Saudi Arabian national newspaper, Saudi Gazette. Appointed in February 2014, it followed a period as Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the only two English publications in the Kingdom and more than ten years of “hands on” experience at all levels in the industry.
It was an appointment made on the basis of her experience and formidable organisational skills; perceptive and intelligent reporting; not a little courage and a great deal of hard work.
Her previous responsibilities as Executive Editor, Managing Editor and Deputy Editor-in-Chief were all first-time positions for a Saudi woman where Kingdom newspapers are concerned.
An author of hundreds of articles, and doughty promoter of women’s issues, Somayya has reported on a spectrum of subjects from women’s issues through a sometimes socially challenging opinion column to the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Never one to sidestep personal risk if it gained a story, she was the only Saudi reporter on the ground in the midst of the revolution in Tahrir Square.
The job of Editor-in-Chief should never be awarded as a sinecure, and in Somayya’s case, it was given on merit.
“It was not a question of gender but of merit that decided and earned her this opportunity,” the outgoing Editor-in-Chief Khaled Almaeena wrote in a farewell letter posted on the newspaper’s website.
Selected as one of the BBC 100 Women List in 2015, Jabarti was listed as one of Arabian Business Top 100 Most Powerful Arab Women in 2014 and 2015 and among Alarabiya’s Top 10 Muslim women that made headlines in 2014.