Jackie Northam

Jackie Northam is NPR's International Affairs Correspondent. She is a veteran journalist who has spent three decades reporting on conflict, politics, and life across the globe - from the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, to the gritty prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and the pristine beauty of the Arctic.

Northam spent more than a dozen years as an international correspondent living in London, Budapest, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, and Nairobi. She charted the collapse of communism, covered the first Gulf War from Saudi Arabia, counter-terrorism efforts in Pakistan, and reported from Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Her work has taken her to conflict zones around the world. Northam covered the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, arriving in the country just four days after Hutu extremists began slaughtering ethnic Tutsis. In Afghanistan, she accompanied Green Berets on a precarious mission to take a Taliban base. In Cambodia, she reported from Khmer Rouge strongholds.

Throughout her career, Northam has put a human face on her reporting, whether it be the courage of villagers walking miles to cast their vote in an Afghan election despite death threats from militants, or the face of a rescue worker as he desperately listens for any sound of life beneath the rubble of a collapsed elementary school in Haiti.

Northam joined NPR in 2000 as National Security Correspondent, covering US defense and intelligence policies. She led the network's coverage of the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal and the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Her present beat focuses on the complex relationship between international business and geopolitics, including how the lifting of nuclear sanctions has opened Iran for business, the impact of China's efforts to buy up businesses and real estate around the world, and whether President Trump's overseas business interests are affecting US policy.

Northam has received multiple journalism awards during her career, including Associated Press awards and regional Edward R. Murrow awards, and was part of an NPR team of journalists who won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for "The DNA Files," a series about the science of genetics.

A native of Canada, Northam spends her time off crewing in the summer, on the ski hills in the winter, and on long walks year-round with her beloved beagle, Tara.

On a balmy Thursday evening, dozens of young Saudis stream into the AlComedy Club in the western port city of Jeddah. It's the start of the weekend, and the crowd snacks on popcorn and ice cream before grabbing some of the sagging seats in the theater. Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" blares from speakers hanging above a tiny stage.

Lubna Olayan remembers the date. It was April 15, 1983, when she and her father sat down to dinner in Riyadh. Olayan and her American husband, John Xefos, had just returned to her native Saudi Arabia after nine years in the United States.

"Over dinner he says 'Lubna, what are you going to be doing here?' " Olayan recalls her father saying. Olayan had worked as a J.P. Morgan analyst in New York, and half-heartedly thought she'd see if there was work at a bank in Saudi Arabia. But her father had something in mind.

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The last few months have seen enormous change for women in Saudi Arabia. They'll soon be allowed to drive and are being encouraged to enter the workforce.

An elite group of movie lovers in the Saudi capital Riyadh got a special treat on Wednesday — a screening of the Hollywood blockbuster Black Panther. The invitation-only event marked the lifting of a ban on cinemas that's lasted more than three decades. It also heralds a new era for Saudi filmmakers, who for years have faced harassment from Saudi authorities for pursuing a profession considered haram, or forbidden, in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

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