This month on Inside the Middle East

A Saudi woman stands in front of an art installation during a photo and art exhibition in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza.

Story highlights

  • This month, IME investigates the limits of personal expression in Saudi Arabia.
  • The show visits the Janadiryah Festival that celebrates Saudi heritage
  • It then focuses on Saudi women who are fighting for their rights more than ever
  • Last, we meet comedians and comtemporary artists in the conservative kingdom
This month, Inside the Middle East gets a rare look inside Saudi Arabia as we investigate the limits of personal expression inside the conservative kingdom.
Janadiryah Festival
Now in its 27th year, Janadiryah Festival is a celebration of Saudi heritage and a way to help a new generation connect with its past. Just 45 km from the capital Riyadh, Saudis come here once a year to let go, a chance they rarely get in a society where religious laws limit most forms of expression. The festival is sponsored by Saudi Arabia's all-powerful monarchy who consider it an opportunity to promote traditional culture.
Women: Beyond the Driving Issue
Despite strong resistance to change from several conservative groups, Saudi women are fighting for their rights more than ever. From the capital, Riyadh, to the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, we discover the challenges that many Saudi women face on a daily basis - from the driving ban to the inability to travel without the approval of a male guardian.
Social Media Revolution
We meet Omar Hussein, a 25-year-old comedian who found his stage on YouTube. His show Al-Tayer, based on local humor, has drawn hundreds of thousands of hits. He's part of a growing trend where comedians and citizen journalists are using social media as a platform to address the two-thirds of the Saudi population under 30. These online celebrities are pushing the barriers of society through their popular, but sometimes controversial talk shows.
Edge of Arabia
Launched under the banner "We Need to Talk", Jeddah hosts the first major contemporary art show ever held in the kingdom. Organizers are encouraging guests to strike up a new conversation about artistic expression and freedom. Comprised of Saudi artists, Edge of Arabia has exhibited from Venice to London but this is the first time it comes home. We went to find out why some consider this exhibit controversial.
Watch the March show at the following times:
Wednesday 7 March: 1030, 1730
Saturday 10 March: 0530, 1930
Sunday 11 March: 1230
Saturday 17 March: 1230
Sunday 18 March: 0530, 1930 (all times GMT)