Oprah Winfrey acts a role model to those living much different lives than hers — the women of Saudi Arabia. The New York Times just wrote about Oprah's fans in the strict Islamic country, where her show plays with Arabic subtitles two times a day, five days a week. Content that violates Saudi law, like homosexuality, does get censored, but episodes about Arab-Western relations and the threat of Islamic terrorism make the air.
Saudi women crave Oprah's message that even if they face restricted or abusive situations, women can create lives of value. The message of change from within gives some energy and hope, making them feel self-empowered perhaps for the first time.
Saudi Arabia's largest women's magazine even devotes an entire page to Oprah. To see how the Saudi women explain the interest, read more.
One young woman told the New York Times that Oprah discusses taboo subjects, saying:
She talks about racism, for example. This is something that Saudis are very concerned about, because many of us feel that we’re judged for the way we veil or for our skin color. I have a friend whose driver touched her in an inappropriate way. She was very young at the time, but she felt very guilty about it — and Oprah helped her to speak about this abuse with her mother.
While it's less than ideal that some women must turn to a TV personality as their glimmer of hope, Oprah's success in penetrating this Middle Eastern society shows that the American message of self-improvement and human rights could be more powerful than weapons and armies.