Foreign Ministry to open condolence book

Updated 17 June 2012

Foreign Ministry to open condolence book

A book of condolence for diplomats will be opened at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs following the death of Crown Prince Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, said Alauddin A. Alaskary, deputy minister for protocol affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, here yesterday. Alaskary, who expressed his grief and condolences, said that the book will be open to all foreign diplomats posted in the Kingdom. He said that the ministry would decide tomorrow as to when and where the condolences will be received. He said the book would be opened either in Jeddah or Riyadh.
But, condolence messages started pouring in as soon as the news of the death of Crown Prince Naif was announced yesterday afternoon. US Ambassador James Smith said: "I am deeply saddened by the death of Crown Prince Naif and I convey my heart-felt condolences on behalf of the US Embassy and the people of the US to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, the family of late Prince Naif and the people of Saudi Arabia."
This is a sad day not only for Saudi Arabia, but also for the US, which lost a close friend, he added. He said: "I had the pleasure of meeting and consulting with Crown Prince Naif many times to discuss key regional and bilateral issues and I am personally going to miss his strong partnership and leadership."
"We can't but remember that Crown Prince Naif was known for his courage and dedication to the security of his country, his steadfast service for Haj and his visionary leadership in the fight against extremism," said Smith.
"I was greatly saddened to hear of the death of Crown Prince Naif today," said Roddy Drummond, charge d'affaires at the British embassy in his condolence message. He said that Crown Prince Naif's long service to his people and his country will not be forgotten and will be remembered by generations to come.
In his condolence message, Japanese Ambassador Shigeru Endo said: "I was saddened to learn the passing away of Crown Prince Naif, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior with deep grief and sorrow."
"I, on behalf of the government and people of Japan, extend my deep condolences and sincere sympathy to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, to the royal family and the Saudi people," he added.
Endo said that Prince Naif made great contributions to the Kingdom’s peace and development. "He was a great leader, devoting himself to his country and his people," said the Japanese envoy.
Ambassador of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia Muhammad Naeem Khan and Consul General Abdul Salik Khan expressed their deep grief over the death of Crown Prince Naif. On behalf of the people and government of Pakistan, they conveyed to the people of Saudi Arabia and the members of the bereaved royal family their profound condolences.
They said that the passing away of crown prince was "a great loss for the people of Saudi Arabia and the entire Muslim Ummah."
Sen. Sehar Kamran, who is also the principal of the PISJ-ES, Jeddah, too expressed sorrow at the death of Prince Naif. The graduation ceremony of PISJ-ES A Level students, scheduled for today, has been postponed.
Bangladesh President M. Zillur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed and Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni expressed their deepest sorrow and condolences at the sudden demise of Prince Naif. In their messages they said Bangladesh lost a dear friend and a brother following the sudden death of Prince Naif.
Expressing his sorrow over the death, Albanian Ambassador Admirim Banaj said, "Crown Prince Naif was a great leader, who had a long tenure of his service for his people and the nation. On behalf of the government and people of Albania, I offer my sincere condolences on this irreparable loss."
Abdul Hameed Mohammed Fowzie, senior minister from Sri Lanka, will represent the country at the crown prince funeral. Fowzie told Arab News in Colombo that news of Prince Naif’s death was received with shock by the entire world, particularly the Muslim Ummah.


Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving

Updated 24 June 2018

Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving

  • They start their engines and hit the roads throughout the Kingdom
  • End of driving ban is crowning achievement so far of Saudi Vision 2030

Women throughout Saudi Arabia waited for the stroke of midnight, turned the keys in the ignition, fired up their engines — and hit the road to a bright new future.

It was the moment they had waited for since King Salman issued the royal decree on September 26, 2017, to lift the driving ban on women. 

Just after midnight on Saturday and in the first minutes of Sunday, Samah Algosaibi grabbed the keys to her family’s 1959 Corvette C1 and drove out of the driveway of her beach house in Khobar.
“We are witnessing history in the making as we look toward the dawn of a promising future,” said Algosaibi, the first female board member of Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Bros.

“As a businesswoman in Saudi Arabia, I am grateful for the women’s empowerment movement taking place. Today, I am honored to be sitting behind the wheel of change.”

Another woman to hit the road after midnight was Lina Almaeena, a member of the Saudi Shoura Council. “It feels very liberating,” she said about driving her mother’s Lexus.
Almaeena, also the co-founder and director of Jeddah United Sports Co, had exchanged her UAE license for a Saudi one. 

“I am thrilled!” Sarah Alwassia, 35, a nutritionist in Jeddah, told Arab News. “I learnt how to drive 18 years ago in the States where I got my driving license. I can’t believe that the day to drive in my own home town has come.”

Alwassia obtained her first American license when she was 18 years old in 2000, and had it exchanged for a Saudi license on June 6 in Jeddah. She explained that she is a mother, and this change provided comfort for her and her family. It also comes with various benefits, such as taking quick action in emergencies, and economic benefits such as saving money instead of paying for a driver when she needs to run errands. 

“I will be driving my kids to school and picking them up in comfort and privacy,” she said.

Women in the Kingdom commented on how this event is changing the course of their lives. “Independence is a huge thing for me,” Alwassia said. “Driving is one small part of it. I am very optimistic of the change that our loving country has made.”  

Alwassia applauds the efforts the country has made to support women. “I am confident that driving in the beginning will be pleasant, since our country has made all of the effort to support women and to protect them.
“I think our society was looking forward for this change, and I am sure the majority will adapt fast.

“I feel safe, our country did everything to make this transition pleasant and safe for every woman behind the wheel. I am really thankful to witness this historic moment and I am so happy for all the women in Saudi Arabia, especially my daughters.”
Sahar Nasief, 64, a retired lecturer from the European languages and Literature Department at King Abdulaziz University, said: “Nothing could describe my feelings. I can't wait to get on the road.”
Nasief received a very special gift from Ford for this occasion.

“They gave me a 2018 Expedition to drive for three days, a Mustang California Special,” she told Arab News.

Nasief obtained her Saudi license on June 7. She also holds a British license and two American licenses. “Now, I have my national license too,” she said. 

She also said the lifting of the ban provided a sense of relief. “I feel that I can practice one of my rights, and I don't have to live at the mercy of my driver any more.”
Society has been demanding such a change for years, “as it will take the physical and economic burden off most men.”
Pointing to the anti-harassment law, Nasief said: “I feel very confident especially after announcing the strict harassment law.”
Joumana Mattar, 36, a Jordanian interior designer, exchanged her Jordanian driver’s license and obtained a Saudi one on June 11. 

“I had my Jordanian license since I was 18 years old, and the moment I heard about the opening of exchanging foreign licenses, I immediately booked an appointment,” she said.
Mattar said she looks forward to the change in so many ways. “I'm finally in control of my time, schedule and privacy.” 

Mattar said she is both confident and anxious about the event. “I'm anxious only for feeling that I'm part of a huge first step for women driving in the Kingdom, but I'm confident also because of the support that I'm getting from my husband and family.
“Every first step is the hardest. Society is facing a huge change, but I'm positive because this change is done and supported by the government and Vision 2030.”

Mattar said she feels secure now. “I'm in control of any case I'm facing.”

• Download our free #SaudiWomenCanDrive mobile phone background designed by renowned artist Malika Favre: