Saudi foreign minister optimistic about overcoming Mideast challenges

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Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir arrives for the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Group of 20 in Bonn, western Germany, on Thursday. (Federico Gambarini/dpa via AP)
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Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, left, is welcomed by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel prior to a meeting of the group of 20 Foreign Ministers in Bonn, Germany, on Thursday. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir holds a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of the meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Bonn on Thursday. (SPA)
Updated 17 February 2017
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Saudi foreign minister optimistic about overcoming Mideast challenges

BONN, Germany: Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said on Thursday he was optimistic about overcoming the many challenges facing the Middle East and looked forward to working with the administration of US President Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, Trump dropped Washington’s commitment to the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, a key pillar of US Middle East policy through successive administrations.
After meeting his US counterpart Rex Tillerson, Al-Jubeir declined to comment directly on that decision, which added to European concerns about how Trump’s “America First” message might reshape US foreign policy.
A senior French diplomat said Trump’s remarks, made alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “made no sense.”
“We look forward to working with the Trump administration on all issues in the region,” Jubeir said.
“We are very, very optimistic about our ability to overcome the many challenges we face in the region.”
Tillerson and Jubeir are in Bonn to attend a meeting of the G20 top industrialized countries.
Trump also promised to work toward a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians and said it would require compromise on both sides.
Last week the US ambassador to the United Nations said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ choice of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as the UN envoy to Libya showed the organization was biased against Israel.
“We thought that what happened with regard to Fayyad was already deplorable,” the French diplomat said .”..But all this makes it difficult for us to understand the decision processes at the heart of the American administration.”
Tillerson, a former Exxon Mobil CEO, is due to meet separately on Thursday with the foreign ministers of France, Russia and Britain.


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 20 min 33 sec ago
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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.”