Claim Ownership


Subscribed: 0Played: 0


One year on

One year on


Today, exactly one year ago, women in Saudi Arabia started driving again. On the 24th June 2018, a driving ban that had been in place for many decades, was lifted. It was a huge step forward. To celebrate this day, we're replaying our very first episode, 'Driving, at last!' It's quite apt that we're replaying this episode today as it was the same episode that launched Aswat: Voices of Arabia. I'd also like to let you know that we'll be taking a break for a while. In a couple of weeks, my husband and I will be leaving Saudi Arabia. We're not sure whether we'll be returning or starting a new adventure in a different part of the world. One thing I do know is that it's been a pleasure sharing the stories of the women who I've met during the past year. I hope that their stories have inspired you as they have me. 



In our second chat with Modia Batterjee, she talks about her work as a resilience practitioner. Through her involvement with Al Bidayah Centre, the breastfeeding clinic in Jeddah, she's come to realize the tenacity of Saudi women in their day to day routines - more so, in many ways, than with women in other parts of the world, due to the local challenges. Modia's resilience has also been tested but she's found a symbol to help her through the tough times. Here's her story. 
Saudi Arabia has become a nation of bottle feeders due to the increased availability of infant formula during the oil boom. The country also has a high prevalence of breast cancer deaths amongst Saudi women due to a lack of awareness of methods of early detection. Only in the past couple of years has it even become acceptable to talk about breast cancer.  Modia Batterjee and her mother, Anne, have started a breastfeeding centre in Jeddah in order to highlight the importance of breast feeding for both mother and child as well as its role in improving early detection. 
The Graffiti Artist

The Graffiti Artist


Graffiti plays an important role in urban landscapes in cities around the world. Here, in Saudi Arabia, it's more subtle because you're not allowed to do graffiti just anywhere.  But the graffiti movement, while more controlled, is beginning to find a voice. Hanan Kamal is part of that movement.     
The Storyteller

The Storyteller


Danya Al Hamrani has been telling stories for as long as she can remember. In 2008, she and her business partner, Dania Nassif, started the production company, Eggdancer - the first company in Saudi Arabia,  to be owned and run by women.  Danya was instrumental in getting Anthony Bourdain, host of the series "No Reservations' to come to Saudi Arabia, thereby "shining a light on a place, people don't get to see much of." Eggdancer has produced their first long documentary "Rise: The Journey of Women in Saudi Arabia." Danya tells us her story.   Title music: Bells in the Wind by Daniel Birch ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution-Non Commercial 4.1 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Animals are beautiful people - Warner Archive  Rise: The Journey of women in Saudi Arabia trailer: Eggdancer Productions
Maggie's journey

Maggie's journey


Maggie Andriopoulos has done more than 5500 dives, mostly in the Red Sea off Jeddah.  She moved to Saudi Arabia with her family for a two year stay, but two Gulf wars and thirty years later, she's still enjoying life here.    Credit: Hans and Lotte Has - 'Abenteuer in Roten Meer'
Creating Hope

Creating Hope


Dr Uzma Raheem is passionate about helping those with special needs. 19 years ago she started Hope Centre for Exceptional Needs, in Jeddah. It was the first multi-lingual centre of its kind in Saudi Arabia. Back then, some people didn't know that their relatives had children with special needs because they were kept in separates rooms and not brought out in public. But things have come a long way since then, thank to awareness and more young Saudi professionals coming into this field.  However, there are still some challenges. 
Bipolar is a mental disorder that affects about 60 million people around the world. There are medications available to help people with this disorder but the stigma that comes with having Bipolar is preventing a lot of people from accessing medication. In Saudi Arabia, it's not much different.  Saudi journalist and author, Ghada Aboud, has written an Arabic novel around this rather taboo subject, in an attempt to make it part of normal conversation.    Music credit: FMA Album: Music for a weary world Song title: Rest Artist: PC 111         Thunder sound: Freesound Artist: Tommygoogle Title: Thunder and rain on window           
Episode 10: Cat Mama

Episode 10: Cat Mama


Saudi Arabia has a huge cat population. Many of them are strays. There are so many, in fact, that they are regarded as pests by many people. One woman in Jeddah doesn't share this view. She's opened up her home and her heart to these animals. She has over 300 cats living with her and she feeds hundreds of street cats.   
With just one deep breath Mariam Shalan can reach depths of 50m. At only 17 years old, she holds the Egyptian National Record for 50m free diving in the category Constant Weight, and is the youngest professional female free diver in Saudi Arabia.  Free diving is quite technical. Terms such as breathe up, lung packing and lung squeeze are just some terms used by free divers.  I met Mariam at her home in Jeddah so she could explain this all to me.       
Open Paws is a dog rescue centre in Jeddah. Dogs have had a bad reputation as being dirty and dangerous so it's quite unusual to see or hear a dog in this region.  But this seems to be changing. However, the number of abandoned, lost or unwanted dogs is increasing. Open Paws is doing an amazing job helping these animals.  During the episode we accompany them on a mission to rescue a seriously injured puppy. 
Open Paws Jeddah is a rescue centre for dogs. In this region, dogs have had a bad reputation of being dirty and dangerous, so its quite unusual to hear or even see a dog. But this seems to be changing. However, the number of abandoned, lost or unwanted dogs is increasing. Open Paws is doing an amazing job in helping these animals.  We accompany them on a mission to rescue a seriously injured puppy.  Music: Free Music Archive Borrtex: See you soon
Susie met Adnan in 1977, while they were both students at The University of Arizona. She's American and he's Saudi. They fell in love. After a long courtship, they married in 1990 and lived in America for 30 years. Then, in 2007, they moved to Saudi Arabia. Susie tells her story and how blogging about her experiences in Saudi Arabia, changed her life.
Episode 6: Bliss Run

Episode 6: Bliss Run


Everyday, in many cities around the world, women lace up their running shoes and head out the door, to run in the streets and parks of their community. However, in Saudi Arabia this is a relatively new concept for women. Up until 2013, girls in public schools weren’t allowed to do sport at school and you rarely saw women exercising in public. The reason was a restriction placed on women doing physical activity outside of their homes in open, public spaces. But things have changed. For the past year or two, it’s become a common sight to see women and girls running, walking and cycling in public. I met up with a women’s running group called Bliss Run in Jeddah and they shared stories about what it has meant to them to be able to exercise in public.
Nadia Dandachi has been playing the piano for 21 years. She's only 24 years old. She's performed at Davos in front of world leaders and spoken at the United Nations about the development of Arts and Music in Saudi Arabia. Even though there have been many changes here, there is still little opportunity for Nadia to showcase her talent on stage, to the public. But she has come up with a way to share her talent.  Nadia tells us about her passion for music and the path she's taken to get to where she is today. 
Mariam Ferdous is the first Saudi woman and only one of three women worldwide to dive at the North Pole.   This audio uses sound from Free Sound: Underwater bubbling by Hampusnoren (
Sporty abayas have made it easier for women in Saudi Arabia to exercise in public. The designer, Eman Joharjy tells us her story.
Raha Moharrak is the first Saudi woman and youngest Arab to climb Mount Everest. She tells us about her experience.
In 2017, the driving ban against women in Saudi Arabia was lifted. Those with licenses drove for the first time at midnight on June 24th, 2018. This is the story of two of those women.
Comments (1)

Sylvia Vargas

loved your story Susie! my parents lived in Saudi Arabia in the mid 80s, my mom loved it too! thanks for Sharing!!!

Dec 12th
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store