Good Tidings for Saudi Women? Techno-Orientalism, Gender, and Saudi Politics in Global Media Discourse

Author(s) Joel W. Abdelmoez
Contact Joel W. Abdelmoez, Lund University, Finngatan 16, 223 62 Lund, Sweden. Email:
Issue CyberOrient, Vol. 16, Iss. 1, 2022, pp. 4-34
Published September 22, 2022
Type Article
Abstract Gender equality in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is still a contentious and hotly debated issue, both within the country and in global news media as well as social media. Not least has the government app “Absher” drawn attention and criticism, due to features that allow male guardians to track their female dependants, issue or withdraw travel permits, and file for divorce at the click of a button. This study aims to explore the campaigns and debates around the app, and how it has been represented in global media. Focusing mainly on social media campaigning by journalists, activists, as well as the Saudi government, I hope to shed light on the different sides of the debate, and what the representation of Saudi Vision 2030, the reforms and the app, particularly in European and American media discourse, tell us about popular imaginations of Islam, technology, and gender.
Keywords gender, Saudi Arabia, Islam, Absher, orientalism, technology