Saudi TV Just Got a Lot More Feminist

TIME

At first glance, the four stars of a new Saudi television drama, “Mubta’ethat” or “Sponsored Women,” look a little mis-matched. There’s Salma, a chic tomboy with short hair and red lipstick, Raghad, a glam-girl with confident strides and princess curls, Sara, a feisty hijabi with colorful clothing, and Alia, a cautious girl who wears a black niqab (covering of the hair and entire face, with only slits for the eyes). But they have one thing in common: They’ve each got a U.S. visa page in their green passport. It is their golden ticket to leave their homes in Saudi Arabia to pursue an education in Philadelphia.

The show highlights how these Saudi women fluidly adapt to a Western world while maintaining their Eastern ideals. They enroll in English classes, move into their own apartments and learn how to drive a car. They all steer their own lives for the first…

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