King Salman’s talks in Asia embody Saudi Arabia’s deep relations

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif chairs the Cabinet meeting at Yamamah Palace on Monday. (SPA)
Updated 07 March 2017
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King Salman’s talks in Asia embody Saudi Arabia’s deep relations

RIYADH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif said the successful talks between King Salman and the leaders in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei have embodied appreciation, respect and the deep relations between the Kingdom and these countries.
Briefing the Cabinet session at Yamamah Palace here Monday under his chairmanship, the crown prince said that the warm reception accorded the king and accompanying delegation during his current visit to Asian countries, and the signing of a series of agreements, come within the keenness of the Kingdom and these countries to enhance relations in different areas.
The Cabinet acknowledged the following awards to the king: the Medal of Crown in Malaysia, the Medal of Star in Indonesia, the Medal of Royal Family in Brunei, and the awarding the king with an honorary Ph.D. in literature from the University of Malaya, an honorary Ph.D. in political science and an award for unique excellence achievement in the service of Islam from the International Islamic University in Malaysia. The Cabinet recognizes that he received these honors for his efforts for Islam and Muslims, an appreciation and recognition for great status enjoyed by the king in serving Islam, and the embodiment of strong relations between the Kingdom and these countries.
The Cabinet appreciated the king’s talks in these countries, which contributed to strengthening bilateral relations in many areas, in a manner that will enhance joint understanding, and serve global peace and security.
The Cabinet praised the announcement of the establishment of the King Salman Center for Global Peace in Malaysia, as well as Saudi Aramco’s joint venture with the Malaysian Petronas Company to acquire and develop a refinery project in Malaysia.
The Cabinet stressed the important comments expressed by the king during his visits to Malaysia and Indonesia. It singled out the king’s call on fighting terrorism and extremism, and promoting dialogue between religions and cultures to enhance the spirit of tolerance in a manner that will serve joint interests and global peace and security.
In addition, the Cabinet expressed thanks and appreciation to King Salman for ordering male and female students studying at their expense in Malaysia to join the educational mission within the program for foreign scholarship.
The Cabinet touched on the 34th session of the UN Council on Human Rights in Geneva. The governing body stressed the Saudi address at this session, which affirmed the Kingdom’s desire to boost efforts to protect human rights at all levels, emanating from the principles of Shariah, and the necessity to protect families from deviation, disintegration, extremism, hatred and racism.
The Cabinet also approved the following:
• The Cabinet approved a memo of understating between the Saudi Ministry of Interior and the National Police Agency in the Republic of Korea for cooperation in areas related to security and fighting of crimes.
• The Cabinet authorized the president of King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) to discuss with China a memo of understanding between the KACST and the Chinese National Aerospace Agency for cooperation in the mission of Chang’e-4 lunar probe.
• The Cabinet also authorized president of King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) to discuss with Japan a memo of understanding for scientific and technical cooperation between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Japan.
• The Cabinet authorized the president of General Authority for Sports to discuss with Japan a draft protocol for cooperation in sports between the Saudi General Authority for Sports and the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
• The Cabinet authorized the minster of environment, water and agriculture to discuss with Japan a draft memo of understanding for cooperation on water processing and desalination between the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
• The Cabinet authorized the minister of transport and board chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation to sign draft agreements between the governments of Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Ecuador, Kazakhstan and Somalia in air transport.
• The Cabinet authorized the minister of education to discuss with Maldives a memo of understating for scientific and educational cooperation between the Saudi Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Maldives.
• The Cabinet approved an agreement between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Mexico to avoid double taxation and stopping tax evasion on income tax.
• The Cabinet authorized the minister of finance to sign a draft agreement between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Mauritania, on the avoidance of double taxation on income tax and capital, and stopping tax evasion.


Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving

Updated 36 min 26 sec ago
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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.”

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