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The mainstream elite media such as Newsweek, The New York Times, CNN, CBS, NBC, Washington Post, Fox, and ABC are perceived by Arab world people as biased in addressing issues of foreign affairs with regard to the Islamic world.
Saudi Arabia is one of the Islamic countries that have always been scrutinized by the mainstream media in the United States. Many citizens of Saudi Arabia blame the US media for the American stereotypical representation of Arabs. This essay explores some of the recent US media representation about Saudi Arabia, and provides an insight into the effects of this aspect.
The US Media representation of Saudi Arabia
In the last two years, the mainstream US media has portrayed Saudi Arabia as a country that does not value rights and freedoms of women (Subramanian 1). They majorly point out the Muslim laws and the Arab culture has the impediment of women empowerment and rights.
With reference to CNN, the arbitrary rules found in the Arab world restrict women’s freedom of putting on what they want (Ghitis par. 3). They are also denied the right to drive cars. This report was carried exclusively by CNN and ABC news in October and November 2013.
The New York Times refers to Saudi Arabia as the only country in the world that does not allow its women to drive (Hubbard par. 5). This media reflection of the women’s rights in Saudi Arabia is positive, especially to our women who have been treated unjustly by culture and religion (Ghitis par. 4). This is positive reporting from the US media. However, on a negative note, the media are representing Saudi Arabia as a nation that does not respect women’s rights.
Politics and democracy is another important issue that the United States has highlighted about Saudi Arabia. The New York Times depicts Saudi Arabia as a monarchy covenant and as an impediment to democracy. Khashoggi (2012) points out that the monarchical system of government denies the population the rate to vote and elect their leaders (Khashoggi par. 2).
In regional politics, Saudi Arabia is reflected as a nation that prefers to work behind the scenes with a selfish agenda of promoting their vision. In his article, Tom Philips (CNN) argues that Saudi has always been at the forefront in pushing for Gulf regional stability (Phillips par. 3). This is a positive observation of the American media. However, due to its domestic, political, and democratic systems, the reason behind its push for regional integration is to take top slots.
The United States media portray Saudi as a good business destination in the Middle East. It acknowledges that the country is the world’s most developing and the growing economy (“Business culture in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia” par. 3). The CNN report owes this to excellent business culture, business code and management style. This is a big compliment by the United States media on Saudi Arabia.
The US media has been behind the stereotypical representation of Saudi and the entire Arabs (Phillips par. 5). This has always been negatively perceived though not very true. This has led to the Arabs being depicted as people who care less about human rights, undemocratic, and always under the confines of religion (Hubbard par. 3). This indeed has resulted in negative attitudes of the American people towards Saudi Arabia and its citizens.
Media plays a major role in developing stereotypes. This is evident in the manner in which the American mainstream media have represented Saudi Arabia. The US media has demonized Saudi Arabia in matters ranging including culture, human rights, and politics. However, in economic terms, Saudi Arabia has been well represented by the American media.
“Business culture in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia”. CNN, May 27, 2013. Web.
Ghitis, Frida. “Don’t tell Muslim women what to wear“. CNN, November 3 2013. Web.
Hubbard, Ben. “Saudi women rise up, quietly, and slide into the driver’s seat.” New York Times, 27 Oct. 2013: 6.
Khashoggi, Jamal. “The Saudi King Never Promised Democracy“. New York Times, August 29, 2012. New York Times, Web.
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Phillips, Tom. “What’s got into the Saudis?”. CNN, October 19, 2013. Web.
Subramanian, Courtney. “Saudi women fined In protest on driving ban.” Time.Com (2013): 1.