Tawaf made easy for disabled, elderly

Updated 12 August 2013
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Tawaf made easy for disabled, elderly

At the orders of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, President of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais opened the temporary mataf bridge for disabled and elderly worshippers on Thursday.
Al-Sudais said that he was opening the bridge experimentally and the operational opening would take place today.
He said the 12-meter-wide and 13-meter-high bridge can accommodate 1,700 wheelchairs in one hour.
He added that one more level will be opened later and it will be linked to the first floor of the Grand Mosque. The bridge will be used by disabled people until the completion of the expansion work, the sheikh added.
The expansion of the mataf started on Nov.15.
The expansion undertaken at the orders of King Abdullah with the aim of increasing the comfort and safety of pilgrims. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Haj and Umrah Studies prepared a study on how to implement the expansion project.
The study recommended using the available space and potential of the mataf to the maximum while maintaining the architectural features of the Grand Mosque using advanced technology.
After the completion of the mataf expansion work, its capacity will increase to 105,000 pilgrims per hour. The capacity fell to 22,000 pilgrims per hour during the expansion period from 48,000 pilgrims.


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
  • 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.”