When you talk about your experience with such a huge event and in a State that enjoy a paramount position among both the Arab and the world States definitely your calculations will differ and your way of thinking will become deeper and more comprehensive… the more difficult element is that you do not only represent yourself but you represent a whole nation for undertaking a mission that shall affect and change the future course in a certain respect … by this I mean the Saudi woman and how the society sees her as well as the governmental support and trust to women in the Kingdom and their reliability in the eyes of the society.
Here we are talking about the support provided for women by a king, a minister, a manager, an official, an employee up to the helper who serves you and makes your morning coffee… It is then that we become fully aware of the complete stereotype which has been and is still drawn in the minds of people about the Saudi woman and society, which is a superficial image that has no depth; yet, it has affected peoples’ minds by hypnotizing the subconscious of the western people before the Arabs, and hence the Saudi woman became the center and target with so many questions raised about her status and position in her country. My participation in covering the events of the South with the Houthis represents one way of discovering such matters!
I will start writing my story and the experience that I am proud to have gone through and for which I was honored by my homeland by being the first Saudi woman present in the frontal lines during the war and covering its events. And here I am revealing to you my precious experience that has been engraved in my heart as every minute of it means so much to me and written down in my history.
No two people can argue about the Homeland love, which was the main motive that made me make the decision of going to the war zone and cover the event there; being a media figure that cares for her society and represents their voices, I wanted to convey a message to our people who live nearby the sounds of the artilleries and missiles, those who left their homes and moved to camps, by us going there that we are standing with them and that their worries are our worries. Secondly, I wanted to prove that we are standing with and
behind our brothers in the army and feel for them and hear their thoughts and that we express our gratitude and thankfulness, though we can never reward them enough no matter what we do. The other thing that motivated me is the fact that we cover the events with full transparency and clearness from all angles. I remember at that time we talked about the security, political, social, educational and economic conditions of the zone during the war then.
Taking such a decision was a big risk for me, I was literally jeopardizing my whole life, yet, I loved to undergo this experience with all its challenges in order to be present, work and accomplish my goal and message… Actually, after I took the decision and suggested it to the management of the Saudi Morning Show, “as I was presenting it on the Saudi First Channel at that time”, in the beginning they were surprised by my idea and could not believe how a Saudi woman can go to a war zone they considered the matter a sort of bizarre; however, I think my strong belief in my idea gave me the strength to convince them and I remember holding a meeting with the Saudi Minister of Culture and Information, Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja, at that time and suggested to him my going and coverage of the war and I cannot forget his reply then as he responded “my daughter, aren’t you afraid?! It is not an easy task and it is a big risk for you.” But, I responded that I just need support and approval and that I am ready to bear all the other consequences.” He really supported me and then I started setting up to depart where I arrived Jazan with the team (cameramen) very late at night.
The cameramen and myself were received by a media person, whose name is Fatima, in her house, which is a situation that I will never forget… you may wonder why?! This is because in a community that has its own customs and traditions, and there are matters that are still rejected in big cities due to their customs and traditions, where this woman accepted and acted, together with her husband, in a very spontaneous and humane manner. She opened her house for us at three o’clock after midnight, when her husband was away on a trip. Fatima lives with her in-laws, who are old aged, her father in law welcomed us whereas her husband called and apologized as he could not come to meet us… this reaction made me analyze the situation from its social aspect, I admired the extent of mutual confidence and trust between the couple and how people in this area act spontaneously and out of humanitarian
nature and responsibility to serve their guests. That was the FIRST happy memory I made there.
In the early morning of the following day, we started our journey by going to the camps and covering the situation there. The first thing that we noticed was the solidarity and cooperation among the people in the camps, we witnessed stories that made us cry as well as stories that made us smile despite of the difficult situation these people are going through … I will never forget a girl called Safeya, that gave me lots of positive energy and thinking; she is a living example for the love of knowledge and learning, such a brave little girl! She requested my phone number and I could not help but giving it to her. Safeya then started to talk about her dreams and ambitions, which I prayed from all my heart that they will come true and that Allah will bless her with success… This situation made my SECOND admirable memory.
We then went to Jazan University and we entered both practical and theoretical classes where I was inspired by the deep thinking, the will power and good management skills of Jazan girls. I also noticed the official’s intellectual awareness for development. At this point, I remembered a funny situation that happened to me with the female students of the Faculty of Medicine in the autopsy laboratory, while watching how they anatomize bodies, I touched one of the organs thinking that it was just an imitation, but I discovered that it was a real organ of a dead person, which made me dizzy; however, I managed to conceal it and nobody noticed. My experience with the medical female students of such remarkable educational institution formed my THIRD memory of Jazan.
During my visits, I was also arranging for the most difficult part of my mission, which is my presence at the line of fire. We started communicating with the officials for the required arrangements and we waited for the early morning so that I can meet his HHR Prince Khaled bin Sultan, the Minister of Defense, in order to obtain his approval for us to approach the battlefield. At that time and with only few hours separating us from being inside the battlefield, with my colleague Rawda Al Jizani from the preparation department who joined me in my historical trip, fear and worries unconsciously started sneaking to me, all my life incidents appeared in front of my eyes, all the beautiful and difficult situations that I lived through, my children’s images did not leave my mind not
even for a minute!! In one second I made another decision as I may not return back from the battlefield, I agreed with my colleague that we should write our wills … so if either she or I never made it back, the other shall deliver her will to her family … these were the most difficult moments. When you get very close to death, you undergo a very painful and difficult feeling; tears still come to my eyes whenever I talk about it. At that night, I could hardly sleep, we prayed the down prayer then headed to the residence of HRH Prince Khaled bin Sultan, I was wearing our military uniform and was honored to meet his HRH and talk to him about my wish to go to the battlefield. We discussed how I shall go and whether I am ready or not, to which I answered that I cannot return without going as this was not one of my characteristics since I have willingly made the decision without any sort of pressure and that it was my duty as a citizen and media figure to go to the battlefield. I also added that I bear all the responsibilities for my decision and I only needed his support as a Saudi woman and media figure with a message; he then ordered one of the officers to facilitate the arrangements of our trip to the frontlines. This FOURTH situation enforced my mind and memory of the fact that our rulers are always in support of women and their engagement in the development of their homeland from any position and their willingness to facilitate women’s missions when they believe in her goal and message.
The moment came and we started our journey to Alkhoba… my memory snapped many images and for the first time on the road… and after our arrival at the top of our target mountain, which we climbed with the team, I started talking with our home soldiers and recorded our TV reportage amid the noise of the artilleries … it was at that moment that I have got a very strange feeling and for the first time I felt that I am not afraid of death and confronted it in a different way from what I felt few hours before this moment. I lost all connection with life on earth and starred at the sky, praying to Allah and asking him to protect my homeland, our rulers and soldiers who sacrifice themselves to defend our precious homeland. I can never forget the words of our soldiers, one of them was a newly-wed groom who left his bride to defend his homeland, and others were always saying that the love of our country is incomparable to any other form of love. When the battle became very intense and the sounds of artilleries started to go louder and louder, they asked me to climb down and go back out of their concern for our lives. We climbed down
the mountain as my mind started to record the fifth situation in my memory. I became aware that sometimes life will demand lots of bravery and initiatives from you and that one should believe strongly in his/her message for others to believe in and support him/her. Thus, I would like to say that I can never thank his HHR Prince Khaled bin Sultan enough for his support.
We then went to Jazan Hospital to visit our injured soldiers and I made my FIFTH memory that the injuries of the soldiers formed medals of honor and pride on their chests as long as they live and that every person should draw such a medal in his/her chest through his/her work.
We ended our trip by meeting with the Prince of this geographically and socially beautiful region, his HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nasser, who astonished me with his humbleness when I called his office to arrange for the meeting and was surprised that he answered me in person and his interest in meeting us. We did have the honor of meeting his Highness and talking to him about the political, security, economic, social and educational conditions of the region in general. This formed my SIXTH beautiful memory of my trip, noting that your position as an official bestows on you lots of responsibilities, of which the first one is how you deal with others and listen to them and their needs. Again, I thank your Royal Highness Prince Nasser for your support, humbleness and for being a good listener.
This meeting marked the end of my trip, from which I carry lots of memories and situations that I will never forget. I thank Allah the Almighty who guided me and enlightened my road throughout it. I further extend my thanks and gratitude to my homeland and to all the officials who supported me.
I love you my homeland