The Saudi government has come out in support of Saudi writers and intellectuals and has pledged to create more opportunities for their development and training.
Speaking at the Third Conference of Saudi Writers in Riyadh last Monday, Dr Abdul Aziz Khoja, Minister of Culture and Information, stressed the ministry’s support for writers and intellectuals across the Kingdom.
“Despite our support for Saudi men of letters, writers and intellectuals, we still feel we have to do more for them. We should be in close contact, listen to them and exchange opinions with them,” he said.
Khoja said it was important for writers in the Kingdom to be familiar with new technology, particularly in the area of “Internet Literature”, and remarked that he would support training courses for this.
He added that the government respects the views of the country’s writers. “We always listen to the intelligentsia and the opinions they raise, especially the ones touching on our beloved country.
The writers - from all the Kingdom’s regions - speak with one voice, expressing their love for one King and one country. I am sure they will come from this forum with new ideas and thoughts,” he said.
Dr. Lamia Baashan, a renowned critic, who also addressed the conference, described the participation of Saudi women at the conference as “historic”. “By all standards and measures, the presence of Saudi women at this conference represents a qualitative leap,” she stated. She also expressed hope that Saudi women would have a greater and more effective presence at the next conference and other such events.
Mirroring this view, Amal Zahid, the Head of the Women’s Committee at the Madina Literary Club, said she was sad at not being able to attend the conference, but was convinced the event showed that the Kingdom has a strong and active cultural movement.
However, she called for more women’s involvement in such activities. “Despite this significant development in our cultural life, I wish that Saudi women had been given a chance to preside over men’s dialogues. Also, I noticed that [there was only a] small number of women who participated in the conference.” Zahid added that she hoped Saudi women would take a more significant role in cultural events and to voice their opinions without feeling restricted.
Ahmad Al-Massad, the President of Baha Literary Club said that all members of the club had participated in choosing the names of those who were invited to the event. – Okaz/SG