100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40
Dr Rajaa Al Sanea

Dr Rajaa Al Sanea

Industry: Arts and entertainment

Designation: Author

Country: Saudi Arabia

Country of origin: @RajaaAlsanea

Age: 33

Rajaa Al Sanea shot to fame in 2005 when her book, Girls Of Riyadh, was published in Lebanon.

Two years later it was translated into English and before long was being nominated for awards across the globe. In 2009, it was long-listed for the Dublin Literary Award. It became a bestseller across much of the Middle East and continues to be popular across the world. It was, however, not well received by everyone.

In her native country, Saudi Arabia, the book was immediately banned and there remains a distinctive divide in opinion of the novel, which was heavily criticised in the Saudi media.

While Al Sanea is held as a role model by liberals, the conservative sections of Saudi society have heavily criticised the book for being unconventional.

The book, written in the form of e-mails, recounts the personal lives of four young Saudi girls, and describes the relationship between men and women in Saudi Arabia. In the book, the girls are looking for love, but are stymied by a system that allows them only limited freedoms and has very specific expectations and demands.