Saudi-Iraqi border sees heavy flow of pilgrims headed for Hajj

A member of the Saudi border guards patrols the fence on Saudi Arabia's northern border with Iraq, near Arar City, in this February 23, 2015 file photo. (AFP)
Updated 18 August 2017
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Saudi-Iraqi border sees heavy flow of pilgrims headed for Hajj

ARAR: The Arar crossing on the Saudi-Iraqi border is seeing a heavy flow of Iraqi pilgrims heading to the Kingdom to perform Hajj.
It has also been attracting diplomats. Saudi minister of state for Gulf affairs, Thamer Al-Sabhan, and Brett McGurk, US special envoy for the anti-Daesh coalition, on Wednesday inspected the crossing.
This came two days after a similar visit by Saudi Ambassador in Baghdad Abdul Aziz Al-Shemary, and his Iraqi counterpart Rashid Al-Any.
The vice president of the Anbar provincial council, Faleh Al-Issawi, said he had received Al-Sabhan and McGurk at the crossing.
Sabhan tweeted a picture of himself with McGurk and Al-Issawi during his visit, with the caption “from the Iraq of fraternity and brotherhood.”
Al-Issawi said the visit was intended to “inspect the crossing, its working mechanism and the mechanism of receiving Hajj pilgrims, in addition to its readiness for trade between Riyadh and Baghdad.”
The deputy governor of Anbar, Mustafa Al-Ersan, said the visit is “a positive step,” and the crossing will be open after the Hajj season for bilateral trade.
Saad Al-Hadithi, spokesman of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, said: “There is an agreement with Saudi Arabia on reopening the crossing for trade and visits between the two countries.”
The decision was made during Al-Abadi’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Al-Hadithi said, adding that Riyadh and Baghdad are also preparing to reopen the Jamima crossing.


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.”