The ideal Muslim woman in the Saudi novel: idealism, counter-idealism, realism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The gender ideology promoted within Saudi political culture constructs a model of the ‘ideal Muslim woman’. This ideal woman is a wife and a mother whose place is in the private sphere, and men are her guardians. Women who remain in their homes, raising the next generation and preserving the traditional values, constitute the quintessential emblem of the unique Saudi national identity. Based on a critical analysis of some 30 Saudi novels written between 1980 and 2000, this study focuses on the changes in the model of the ideal Muslim woman, alongside changes in Saudi attitudes toward women's education and employment. I argue that whereas the regime cultivated the traditional perception of the ideal woman and conservative attitudes toward women's education and employment, the novels presented and constructed hybrid perceptions of these issues, and gradually developed a sharply critical perspective on them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-681
Number of pages17
JournalMiddle Eastern Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Saudi Arabia
  • gender
  • novel
  • women's education
  • women's employment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The ideal Muslim woman in the Saudi novel: idealism, counter-idealism, realism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this