Rania Al Baz might be a prominent Saudi but is far from liked by Saudis. She used to work as a presenter on the Saudi national channel. In April 2004 she was seriously beaten up by her husband. After a photo of the aftermath was published in local media, sympathy came pouring in. Her hospital bill was taken care of by a member of the royal family. Her husband was duly punished and she was granted custody of her two sons. She also has a daughter from a previous marriage. There were people who raised doubts about why her husband got that angry in the first place. There were even rumors that she was on the phone flirting with another man when her husband came in. Lucky for Rania, the husband lost a lot of his credibility when he shot at his sister in Egypt and then kidnapped her in Lebanon for singing. This is a video of an interview that the couple did on an MBC program soon after the beating.
Rania made a full recovery. She then was given jobs on Al Arabiya and then on the Lebanese channel Future TV. She lost some of her Saudi backing and fans when she decided to appear publicly without a headscarf. But generally she was on the right track up until her Oprah interview. On that show Oprah interviewed women from all over the world, all of them positive representatives of their countries except for Rania. Everyone back here was justifiably offended. Why couldn’t they have chosen someone else; Mona Abu Sulieman, Dr. Salwa Al Hazza, Lubna Olayan, Dr. Maha Al-Mounif, Rusha Al Hoshan…etc. It’s like bringing in Natascha Kampusch to represent all Austrian women. Anyway if you want a complete rant on the topic, read this post.
If Rania had condemned the Oprah episode, then she could have gained back a little of what was lost. Even the journalist who arranged the interview was unhappy about how it was edited. Rania on the other hand issued a statement to local press that she was satisfied with the show and that Saudis should not be so sensitive. That coupled with a memoir, originally published in French, which portrayed her whole life in Saudi Arabia as one great big tragedy really pushed Saudis away. It seems as if she used her calamity as a ticket to victim-hood fame. If she had truly cared about the plight of Saudi domestic violence victims, she would have written her memoirs in Arabic rather then French. She could have done more interviews locally rather than joining the rest of the world in their Saudi bashing. Ideally, she could have taken advantage of the initial surge of Saudi support to start a hotline, association, or/and a center. Instead she chose to publicly take off her hijab and to be interviewed reportedly drinking and smoking. Rather than help other Saudi women in her position by raising awareness within the country, Rania willingly and purposely became the global poster-child for anti- Saudi Arabia and anti- Islam.