Badria Al-Bishr: Addressing Hot Button Social Issues through Talk Show

Multi award winning Saudi media personality Badria Al-Bishr is well-known for her role as host of popular talk show ‘Badria,’ which airs on the Arab world’s largest network MBC, tackling hot button social issues in Saudi society. Topics she chooses to discuss mostly focus on women and societal concerns.

Al-Bishr is also a novelist who has authored several books and a columnist – whose style of opinion pieces confront many taboos that, although admired by readers, upset the officials.

Having had a passion for writing at an early age, Al-Bishr was among the few early female pioneers to have her name printed on the newspapers. “Some people began to feel concerned that the name of a woman coming from a conservative family was being printed in the newspaper without prior advice and that I was merely giving expression to my dreams,” she said in an interview with Gulf News.

Al-Bishr has been a strong advocate of gender equality and the liberation of women in Saudi Arabia, which she vindicates through her columns, books and her talk show ‘Badria.’

Having penned quite a number of controversial pieces during her career at several local newspapers, Al-Bishr was banned for some time from continuing until the reign of King Abdullah, who took to the throne in 2009, raising the glass ceiling higher. Returning to writing columns that confronted matters of society, she later took to television with her own talk show to do what she was doing best.

Upon the start of the new season of ‘Badria’ early this year, Al-Bishr said, “About 70 percent of the topics we aim to focus in our new episodes are issues related to Saudi women and women in the Gulf based on the fact that such topics are not much discussed.”

Badria allows a chance for the public to call in the talk show and share their opinions on women’s issues and the obstacles that they face. “We will shed light on successful female personalities and discuss the controversial restrictions concerning women,” she added.

Al-Haitham Arab Media Awards honoured Al-Bishr the title of Most Prominent Media Personality of 2016. She holds a PhD from the American University of Beirut, and is an alumnus of the U.S. State Department International Visitor program. She currently lectures at King Saud University's Department of Social Studies.

The second among nine children, she hails from parents who were illiterate, but supportive and made sure their children excelled in their education. “They wanted us to compensate for what they had missed out on,” she said. Al-Bishr is married to prominent Saudi actor Nasser Al-Qasabi, who is well-known for his roles in the series ‘Tash Ma Tash and a judge at reality television talent show Arabs Got Talent. Al-Bishr and Al-Qasabi are parents to four children.

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