The administration arm of ‘Alummah’ channel is getting ready for the launch of "Maria" satellite channel in the Arab region. Its pilot broadcasts will start towards the end of this month, where all the staff including the broadcasters will be veiled women. No men or non-veiled women will be employed says Sheikha Safaa , the manager of the channel.
Even though these employment plans might be considered sexist, Sheikha Safaa seems to think otherwise. She has made it quite clear that the objectives of launching this channel is to offer veiled women the chance to appear on the screens and to empower other veiled women by activating their roles. She claims veiled women suffer marginalization.
Sheikha Safaa explained that the staff of the satellite channel will be all women, and men are not going to interfere in its general policies or programs quality. Even the owner of the channel will have only a consultative role based on his experience and skills in the field of media, she said.
“The affairs of the channel will be handled by the sisters who will be running the television channel, since women are more qualified to address and talk about their own needs”. She added Sheikh Abu Islam Ahmed Mohammed Abdullah, the owner of the "Al Ummah" channel and the new “Maria” Channel, said in a statement that "God willing, the channel will employ Muslim women graduates of various departments of media collages and institutions. This project aims at protecting women from temptations by finding them suitable work opportunities ."
Sheikh Abdullah explained: “We plan on hiring all our staff of veiled women and finish that within three months. We have already hired women, filming professionals from other television channels to train our all women team on production, filming, and other skills. But for the technical skills we have to rely on men because we were not able to find skilled women in this field yet”.
Abu Islam confirmed that the pilot will start with a broadcast of 6 hours through ‘Al Ummah’ channel, until the time of actual broadcast. He also made it clear that this channel will not host guests who are men or unveiled women, but telephone interventions from both will be permitted.
He predicted that "Maria" Channel will attract high viewership and advertising revenues that will cover the running cost of the channel" he said.
He explained that "Maria" Channel will broadcast all that matters to women, including economy, politics, literature, morality and religion, and he noted that they will begin airing next month.
Iqbal Tamimi is Director of Arab Women Media Watch Centre in UK.