Kingdom strives to free Saudis from Iraqi jails

Updated 11 December 2012
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Kingdom strives to free Saudis from Iraqi jails

The Saudi Embassy in Jordan, which monitors the affairs of Saudis in Iraqi jails, will apply to the Baghdad government for pardoning prisoners. The prisoners have been charged with illegally crossing the borders of Iraq, Al-Watan daily reported yesterday.
The move follows a recent statement of Adnan Al-Asadi, Iraqi deputy interior minister, that his country would set free Saudi prisoners if Riyadh asked for it.
“Relatives will be allowed to visit the Saudi prisoners,” Minister Plenipotentiary at the Saudi Embassy in Jordan Hamad Al-Hajeri said. The embassy did not receive any visitor applications from relatives of the Saudi prisoners.
Al-Hajeri said the embassy had not received any official communication about the execution of Saudis in Iraq after Ali Al-Shahri had been condemned to death a few weeks ago.
After a meeting of Al-Asadi with Interior Minister Prince Muhammad bin Naif in Riyadh, Iraq and Saudi Arabia decided to set up a joint committee. This committee will take care of the relations between the two countries, especially in matters related to the prisoners in both countries, Al-Hajeri said.
Iraqi Ambassador to the Kingdom Ghanem Al-Jimaili told Al-Watan his country welcomed any Saudi family that wanted to visit its relatives jailed in Iraq. He added that the embassy would remove all obstacles in the way of relatives visiting Saudi prisoners. “They should come to the embassy and we are ready to comply with whatever they want,” the ambassador said.
The Saudi-Iraqi joint committee will begin its work by sorting out logistical problems related to prisoner swaps. They will verify the number of prisoners involved and their names. The committee will also decide on ways to implement the swap agreement, he said.
While there are an estimated 60 Saudi prisoners in Iraqi jails, between 110 and 115 Iraqi prisoners are believed to be spending time in the Kingdom’s jails.
Abdullah Al-Anzi, a Saudi ex-prisoner, who spent about eight years in various prisons in Iraq, said last month that prisoners were exposed to physical and psychological torture, and that he himself had been tortured. “There is a lack of medical care for prisoners in Iraqi jails. I personally did not receive adequate medical care,” he said in a statement.
Tamer Al-Balheed, head of the Committee for Saudi Detainees in Iraq, said members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp, as well as the Sadrist Mahdi Army had tortured Al-Anzi.
“This is the case with all Saudi detainees in Iraq. The arbitrary detention of Al-Anzi for eight years against the backdrop of absolute absence of law and sectarian conflict is just an example of the status of those prisoners,” Al-Balheed said.
He revealed that sectarian tensions in Iraq’s prisons reached their height after the 2006 and 2007 bombings of Al-Askari Mosque in Samarra, Iraq. “Following these incidents Sunni prisoners had been forced to travel around in groups of at least seven for fear of retaliation.”


World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Alkhobar city in eastern Saudi Arabia on her way to Bahrain on June 24, 2018. (AFP / HUSSAIN RADWAN)
Updated 25 June 2018
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World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

  • As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-ti
  • The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet 

JEDDAH: The world awoke on Sunday to images and video footage many thought they would never see — newly empowered Saudi women taking the wheel and driving their cars.

As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-time drivers.

The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet.

“I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and the spirit to dream,” she said.

In a tribute to Saudi female drivers, the Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji released a special video of a song she performed live in Riyadh at a concert last December “Today women in Saudi Arabia can legally drive their cars,” she said. “Congratulations on this achievement, this one’s for you!”

Back home in Saudi Arabia, the atmosphere was euphoric. “It’s a beautiful day,” businesswoman Samah Algosaibi said as she cruised around the city of Alkhobar. 

“Today we are here,” she said from the driver’s seat. “Yesterday we sat there,” she said, pointing to the back.

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated,” said Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena, one of the first women to drive in the Kingdom.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urged all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.

“But I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”