PR Pulse: PR Forum, Saudi-Style

From the one-step-forward/two-steps-back department: the Saudi Arabian government discovered PR. Working with Arab Conferences Company and the Gulf Chapter of the
International Public Relations Association, the kingdom's first annual PR Forum was recently held in Jeddah to discuss strategies for improving Saudi business
communications. But alas, old Saudi customs were anchored to the new PR talk. According to Hassan M. Al-Saleh, strategic planning and operations manager for Arab Conferences
Company, Forum attendees were strictly segregated by gender. In the main conference hall, a large frosted glass barrier kept the sexes apart - women could see the men speaking on
the main stage, but not their male colleagues across the floor. Women at the Forum were only allowed to attend a single gender-exclusive working session, while the men had four
working sessions to themselves. And regardless of their faith, all of the women attending the Forum (including female representatives from the local U.S. consulate) were required
to wear the abaya, that enveloping black garment covering the head and body.