Foreign ministers to shortlist GCC summit agenda

Updated 20 December 2012
0

Foreign ministers to shortlist GCC summit agenda

The foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will hold a meeting on Saturday to review the arrangements made for the GCC summit and shortlist the topics that will be tabled for discussions before the heads of Gulf states on Dec. 24.
“The meeting of foreign ministers will be held in Bahrain a day before the GCC summit begins,” said GCC Secretary-General Abdullateef Al-Zayani Wednesday in Riyadh.
Al-Zayani said the agenda would include many GCC-related issues besides the current political issues of regional importance. “The GCC ministerial council will finalize the agenda. There is an agreement on all issues of the draft agenda. The most notable among them are the economic issues, such as economic cooperation and closer security cooperation,” said Al-Zayani. The ministerial council meeting will also discuss political, economic, social, environmental, educational and health issues.
The meeting will review the strategic talks that were initiated recently between the GCC and a number of countries. The meeting will tackle the strategic partnership files of Morocco and Jordan, as well as the situation in Iran, Syria, Yemen and the latest developments in both Palestine and Iraq. Al-Zayani pointed out that political issues directly related to the GCC would be discussed at the summit, but subjects related to the Arab world would be handled by the Arab League.
Syria, Iran and Yemen will be among the political topics to be taken up for discussions on priority basis by the foreign ministers and then by the GCC heads of state on Dec. 24. “The GCC countries have been exerting effort to ensure peace and security in Syria, and they are also very keen on implementing the Yemen deal,” said Al-Zayani, adding that Syria is a major problem hampering all effort for regional peace and security.
Al-Zayani called on the GCC states to re-evaluate their economic, political and military interests and set up “new strategies” to meet the political, security and economic challenges and ensure a better future for GCC citizens. “Amid the latest regional and international developments, GCC states are required, now more than ever, to adopt new strategies to face regional challenges and promote the GCC framework of closer cooperation politically, economically and socially,” he stressed.
Referring to the meeting of the foreign ministers, Al-Zayani said the ministers would discuss the entry of Jordan and Morocco as members into the GCC. Moroccan King Mohammed VI visited all GCC countries this year to further reinforce ties with the GCC bloc in different fields. The accession of Morocco and Jordan will be an important topic that will be recommended by the foreign ministers to the GCC Supreme Council for discussion.
He pointed out that the GCC and Morocco had approved a GCC-Moroccan joint action plan (2012-2017) to promote bilateral cooperation in different fields. The GCC and Jordan have also adopted an action plan for cooperation that will conclude in 2017. The Gulf bloc and the two countries have formed special task teams for cooperation in economy, agriculture, food security, transportation, environment and telecommunications, among other sectors.
Referring to the action plan for Morocco and Jordan that has been agreed by the GCC, Al-Zayani said the Gulf leaders were “keen on seeing the action plan effectively implemented.” The GCC last year created a fund to support development plans under which the GCC will allocate $ 5 billion to Jordan and Morocco each during the next five years to implement development projects. This is in addition to different projects financed by individual Gulf countries in Morocco and Jordan.
Meanwhile, Bahrain announced it had launched a radio station to cover the GCC summit. The GCC Voice Radio will broadcast programs from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. until Dec. 23, but will have a larger slot thereafter broadcasting from 1 to 5 p.m. until Dec. 26. The audience will be allowed to interact with the radio through a Twitter account. The radio will host leading GCC political, social, cultural and sport personalities who will discuss the issues on the agenda of the 33rd GCC summit.
Radio presenters and media crews from GCC member countries and the GCC General Secretariat will be presenting programs on the radio station that will broadcast on the 98.4 FM frequency, the head of Bahrain Radio, Younus Salman, said in a report published today. Manama has also made elaborate arrangements for newsmen from foreign media channels who will be arriving in Bahrain next week to cover the summit.


‘Because I can’: ride-hailing app welcomes Saudi women drivers

Updated 25 June 2018
0

‘Because I can’: ride-hailing app welcomes Saudi women drivers

  • The Dubai-based ride-hailing app, along with global behemoth Uber, say they would begin to hire women
  • Seventy percent of Careem’s customers in Saudi Arabia are women

RIYADH: Reem Farahat waited for a ride request. Her phone pinged. “I’ve already cried twice,” she said, heading out to work as one of Saudi Arabia’s first female drivers for Careem.
The Dubai-based ride-hailing app, along with global behemoth Uber, reacted to Saudi King Salman’s September announcement of an end to the Kingdom’s ban on female motorists by saying it would begin to hire women.
On Sunday, when the king’s decree took effect, nearly a dozen Careem “captainahs” — all Saudi women — were ready to pick up riders.
“This morning, when I got in the car, I felt the tears coming,” Reem said as she stocked her car with chilled water bottles for her riders.
“I pulled the car over and cried. I could not believe that we now drive... It’s a dream. I thought it would be totally normal, I’d just get in the car and go. I was surprised by my own reaction.”
She took a long pause.
“I didn’t expect it,” she said. “I’m doing this because I can. Because someone has to start.”
Seventy percent of Careem’s customers in Saudi Arabia are women, according to company statistics, a figure largely attributable to the Kingdom’s now-obsolete ban on women driving.
Uber puts its equivalent figure closer to 80 percent.
At Careem’s offices on Sunday, staff gathered to celebrate the women’s first day on the job.
Farahat’s first ride request came just hours after the ban was officially lifted.
“This is my first ride. I’m excited. I’m excited to know who I’m picking up, what their reaction is going to be,” she said.
The driver — who also works with her father as a quality control consultant, is training in life coaching, and scuba dives with her sister off the Red Sea city of Jeddah — picked up Leila Ashry from a local cafe.
Walking toward the car, Leila spotted Reem, did a little jump of joy on the sidewalk, and was already chatting as she opened the door.
“Oh my god I can’t believe it’s you. I can’t believe you’re here. I can’t believe I’m here,” Leila said.
“I’ve been tweeting to my friends that my ride is coming and it’s a woman! And you’re so pretty! And I can sit in the front now — wait, can I actually sit in the front next to you?“
Some 2,000 women have signed up to get their Careem licenses since September, said Abdulla Elyas, co-founder and CPO — “chief people officer” — of the ride-hailing app. They are all Saudi women, from their 20s to their 50s.
Uber also plans to introduce women drivers to their service this autumn.
“They come from completely different backgrounds,” Elyas told AFP.
“We have women who have degrees, a master’s degree. We have women who have no degree at all. We have women who want to do this full time. We have women who want to do this part time (for) an additional income, who are already working.”
Most of those who had been licensed by Sunday, like Reem, had permits from foreign countries, enabling them to skip driving courses and take the final exam for a Saudi license.
The “captainahs” can pick up any customer, man or woman.
Both the driver and rider have the right to end the ride at any point.
Leila, a young medical student with a pixie cut and bright smile, says she would still choose a woman.
“This automatically feels a lot safer... being a female and dealing with sexism on a day-to-day basis. There’s just something about it that feels wonderful. But it’s not only that. It’s also women joining the workforce,” she said.
Sitting in the front passenger seat, she recalled previous rides with male drivers.
“Before, sometimes they would stare at me from the mirror,” she said.
“It’s just like that thing we share with women, where we just automatically understand what it’s like to be in that position where you feel their eyes on you but you can’t say anything, you can’t do anything against it.”
She turned to chat to Reem, and sang a riff from a West Side Story tune before saying: “If you can do it, then I can do it.”
“See? That’s what I was talking about,” Reem said. “It’s that ripple effect.”