Only one host--Muna Abu Sulayman, a Saudi Arabian working on a Ph. in American literature--is veiled, her shimmering hijab the shade of moonbeams. Known for her sexy film roles and scanty outfits, the young Egyptian star stunned her followers by recently deciding to wear the veil."I'm really at peace--wearing the hijab gives me true power," Shiha says, her head swathed in a bright orange polka-dot scarf pushed back to expose her amber eyes.
More than half of Arab women are illiterate, meaning TV, rather than books or newspapers, serves as their window on the wider world.
A Saudi Arabian woman--banned by law from voting, driving, or going out unveiled--can watch her Jordanian and Egyptian sisters do all those things on television.
The show's success, according to producers, came from the fact that reform--personal as well as political--is a current buzzword for women across the Middle East, who see sat TV as a means for questioning the status quo.
"The Arab woman is thankful to find a voice," says Kalam Nawaem's Rania Bargout. Now she's seeking answers to enable her to move forward." Women have been part of the Middle East's satellite-television revolution from the start.
Last year another program, Starting Over, focused on six women living in a luxury flat outside Beirut and working with a team of psychologists, career counselors, and personal stylists to help reshape their lives on-air.