Cars, apps and driving schools — Saudi women drivers targeted as new market

Saudi women check a car at an automobile stand in Jeddah. (AFP)
Updated 10 October 2017
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Cars, apps and driving schools — Saudi women drivers targeted as new market

BEIRUT: Ride-sharing apps, carmakers, and driving schools are targeting their newest market — Saudi Arabian women — wasting no time after the Kingdom lifted its ban on women drivers last month.
Ride-hailing service, Uber, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Monday it was aiming to recruit female training drivers for Saudi women who want to work for Uber by the end of the year.
The company will open its first ever “female partner support center” to be on hand to support women drivers.
“We want to do a dedicated center for females who want to be on the platform as drivers in Saudi Arabia,” Shaden Abdellatif, Uber spokeswoman for the Middle East and North Africa, said by phone from Cairo.
In a royal decree issued on Sept. 26, Saudi King Salman ordered an end by next year to the ban on women drivers.
The decision is expected to push women into the workforce and boost car sales. Uber said it wanted to be a part of the “progressive changes.”
“Your car can essentially be your small business (which) will be quite appealing for women there — it’s that idea of part-time work opportunity,” said Abdellatif.
Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, an all-female school in Riyadh, announced on Twitter after the news broke that it will set up a driving school for women, a first in the country.
Carmakers were also quick to welcome the royal decree — that ordered new rules allowing women to drive be drawn up within 30 days and implemented by June 2018.
“Congratulations to all Saudi women who will now be able to drive,” Nissan said in a Twitter post depicting a license plate bearing the registration “2018 GRL.” BMW, whose X5 SUV is the group’s Middle East top-seller, also saluted the move.
The arrival of women drivers could lift Saudi car sales by 15-20 percent annually, leading forecaster LMC Automotive predicts, as the Kingdom’s “car density” of 220 vehicles per 1,000 adults rises to about 300 in 2025, closing the gap with the UAE.
However, the rule change could spell bad news for some of the 1.3 million men employed as chauffeurs in the Kingdom, including a large share of its migrant workforce.


Joint Incidents Assessment Team 'abides by transparency' in Yemen

Updated 25 September 2018
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Joint Incidents Assessment Team 'abides by transparency' in Yemen

  • JIAT spokesman said the team is transparent in the way it announces its results for incidents in Yemen

RIYADH: The spokesman of the Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) in Yemen, legal consultant Mansour Bin Ahmed Al-Mansour, has stressed that the team abides by transparency in announcing the results of engagement in Yemen.

Al-Mansour was speaking on Tuesday at a press conference at King Salman Air Base in Riyadh assessing  incidents. 

The cases included an incident in Malh Town where Human Rights on Yemen stated that on Feb. 18, 2016, during the intensity of combat, a family tried to leave and Coalition Forces targeted the vehicle, causing the death of nine family members and their relatives, injuring three.

JIAT investigations revealed that the target was located 1,600 meters from the coordinate given by the National Commission, and after reviewing the daily mission schedule, JIAT found that there was no air mission on the village of Malh. 

It was also claimed that the Coalition Air Forces on Nov. 10, 2017 targeted the ministry of defense and the fall of a missile on Alsa’adi neighborhood next to the ministry injured 23 civilians. JIAT found that there was a gathering of high-level Houthi leaders inside the building so considered it a legitimate military target. 

On Feb 2, 2018 an airstrike on a target 500 meters away from the warehouse of the UNHCR in Sa’dah city caused damage to the warehouse and injured the guard. JIAT found that the Coalition Air Forces targeted a legitimate military target (a leader from the Houthi armed militia). 

Coalition Forces on March 31, 2015 targeted the national cement factory in Lahj, causing the death of at least 10 people and injuring at least 13 others. JIAT found that the target was 360 meters away from generators and the production line, and was not aimed at the operational infrastructure. JIAT found that the procedures of the coalition in targeting the weapons, ammunition warehouse and AAA inside the factory were in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Al-Mansour announced the findings of investigations into the Radfan water factory north of Lahj governorate. JIAT found that intelligence stated that it was used for weapons storage and as a meeting place for hostile elements and was considered a legitimate military target.

JIAT looked at a High Commissioner for Human Rights report that stated that on Aug. 7, 2016, Coalition Forces carried out two airstrikes on a residential and commercial building in Sana’a, causing the death of 16 civilians including seven children and a woman, and injuring 24 others. JIAT found that Coalition Forces did not target the buildings and confirmed that the procedures of the coalition in targeting the truck were in accordance with international humanitarian law. 

Human Rights Watch stated that on Feb. 14, 2016, Coalition Air Forces targeted the Middle East Tailoring and Embroidery Factory in Sana’a city, causing the death of one laborer and injuring three others. 

JIAT found that on Feb. 13, 2016, intelligence received by the Coalition Forces indicated there were meetings of Houthi armed leaders in a hanger in Sana’a that had been used as an embroidery factory before being controlled by the militia.

Regarding reports by international organizations about a civilian boat being attacked by a military ship on March 16, 2017, the boat arrived about 30 nautical miles from Alhudaydah port and was intercepted by a military ship that claimed to belong to the Coalition Forces and opened fire. Passengers signaled that they were civilians but the ship opened fire with a submachine gun, and a helicopter took off from the attacking ship and opened fire, causing the death of 33 people, injuring 29. 

JIAT found Coalition Forces did not target the refugee boat for several reasons, including that the shooting on the boat was horizontal, making it impossible for it to come from a helicopter, and the size of the weapon used showed the marks of small-caliber fire, not medium or large caliber.