Women to take part in municipal polls

Updated 26 July 2014
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Women to take part in municipal polls

The Council of Ministers has approved legislation that would allow Saudi women to vote and stand as candidates in upcoming municipal council elections.
Women were not allowed to participate in the 2011 elections but Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques had ordered shortly before the polls that they should be allowed to do so from the 2015 elections onwards.
The law allows councils to approve and implement municipal plans and programs approved in the budget. They would also oversee maintenance, operating, development and investment projects, the law states.
The Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs would determine the size and make-up of councils. They should not exceed 30 members, with two-thirds elected and a third appointed by the minister.
The law gives men and women the right to stand as candidates, vote and nominate others. It grants independent, non-governmental and non-profit establishments and charities the right to observe election procedures.
These decisions were taken at the council's meeting on Monday, chaired by Crown Prince Salman.
At the beginning of the session, the council considered the details of the talks between King Abdullah and King Mohammad VI of Morocco, and his telephone conversation with Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi, Egypt's president. The council also reviewed the Crown Prince’s talks with Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, prime minister of Bahrain.
Minister of Culture and Information Abdul Aziz Khoja said the Council of Ministers reviewed several reports on international and regional developments. He slammed the Israeli government for its aggression against the Palestinians and repeated requests from the Kingdom for the international community to take action against the Zionist state.
Khoja said the Ministry of Interior has issued regulations around the Haj and Umrah, which includes a ban on non-Saudis being involved in the provision of accommodation for pilgrims. A representative of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities should be appointed to the permanent committees in Makkah and Madinah, he said.
The Council of Ministers also reviewed a report of the Minister of Finance, and approved several procedures including issuing licenses to the General Investment Fund to set up single or joint companies inside and outside the Kingdom, in the public and private sectors.
After reviewing the remarks of the Minister of Transport, the council gave Saher the authority to issue fines for drivers and vehicles at fixed and mobile weight stations and elsewhere. The council stated that the majority of Saher employees should be Saudi nationals, and committees set up should be approved by the Ministries of Interior, Transport and Finance.
The Council of Ministers, after reviewing remarks from the president of the Financial Market Authority, and recommendations of the economic council permanent committee, granted the authority the power to allow foreign financial institutions to buy and sell shares listed in the Saudi financial sector.


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.”