'Queens of the Kingdom is an effective counterpoint to the popular depiction of Saudi women as oppressed victims. Its subjects have very different views on what life should look like in their country, but all voice a fierce pride in their agency and identity. The book fulfils the desire expressed at one point by filmmaker Amani, "to tell people that [Saudi women] are strong, that they're human.".' Times Literary Supplement
'This magnificent book gives the perspective of 30 women in the kingdom. From global activism to marrying strangers in exchange for an education, this is the reality many Saudi women face....Mingled in between the strict rules and closed families are women who are finding their voices and prepared to break barriers for the future.' Sunday Times (South Africa)
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the most mysterious and secretive societies in modern times and the lives of the women living there is perhaps the most intriguing aspect of all. What do the women of Saudi Arabia really think about their lives? What are their hopes and dreams? To separate fact from fiction, Nicola Sutcliff spent four years living in the Kingdom, meeting and interviewing women of all ages and from all walks of life. Their stories are presented here and paint a portrait of a country that appears to be on the cusp of change.
Meet Hafsa, a Bedouin who gave birth to eleven children in the open desert; Jamila, the first wife in a polygamous household; Aya, a medical student who married a stranger in order pursue her education. Meet these and many others and discover what they think about subjects as diverse as education, driving, the religious police, male guardianship, social media, women’s rights, love, marriage, underground parties, under-the-abaya fashion and sexuality. Authentic, eye-opening, inspiring and courageous, this candid collection of essays captures the essence of what it is like to be a woman living in Saudi Arabia today.
Nicola Sutcliff is a linguist, educator and writer currently residing in Paris. She graduated in Modern Languages and European Studies at the University of Bath and later achieved a Diploma in Freelance and Feature Writing from the London School of Journalism. Her professional interest in languages and transformative education has propelled her to live in eight different countries, including four years in Saudi Arabia.
Living and working in the Kingdom allowed Nicola to build trust and relationships in an extremely private society, and consequently permitted her behind many high walls and closed doors. Her articles have been published in Destination Riyadh, the capital’s principal English-language magazine, and her work has been supported by princesses, renowned activists and a UN representative.
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