In an op-ed in the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh titled "I Want A Name, Not A Number," Omaima Al-Khamis wrote about the kingdom's custom of giving names to boys' schools but giving only a number to girls' schools. The following is her piece, as translated into English and published by The Saudi Gazette on April 4, 2015.
"The Most Recently Opened Girls' School In Riyadh Has Been Named 'The 390th Elementary School"
"The most recently opened girls' school in Riyadh has been named 'The 390th Elementary School.' I cannot explain why girls' schools - which are opening all the time - are given numbers instead of proper names.
"We live in the Arabian Peninsula, in the land of the Arabic language. One of the miracles bestowed on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the Holy Koran that was revealed in Arabic.
"The Prophet (pbuh) said: 'You will be called on the Day of Resurrection by your names and the names of your fathers, so choose good names for yourselves.'
"Girls' schools in the Kingdom do not have names. They are instead given numbers that make no sense. The authorities should take action now and replace the numbers with the names of the streets or neighborhoods in which the schools are located."
"Giving Girls' Schools Numbers For Names Obliterates Their Identity; Is There Some Sort Of Effort... To Deface The Identity Of Women In Society?"
"A name gives a person or an institute an identity. Article 3 of the Convention of the Rights of Children states that children are entitled to have names and nationalities.
"Giving girls' schools numbers for names obliterates their identity. Is there some sort of effort underway to deface the identity of women in society?"
"Why are boys' schools named after companions of the Prophet (pbuh) and well-known historical figures? If you pass by a boys' school, you will see a big sign over the gate with the name of the school that can be seen by everyone. On the other hand, girls' schools have boards with numbers that cannot be seen very clearly."
"The Issue Of Giving Numbers To Girls' Schools Is An Old One... The Ministry Continues To Fail To Take Any Action"
"When I was working at the Ministry of Education, a committee was formed to choose names for girls' schools.
"This happened during the era of Education Minister Muhammad Al-Rasheed between 1996 and 2005. I do not know what happened to the committee, but it seems that it ended up taking no action.
"The issue of giving numbers to girls' schools is an old one and countless articles have been written about it; meanwhile, the ministry continues to fail to take any action."