Saudi Shoura Council members welcome King Salman’s focus on new direction

Updated 14 December 2017
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Saudi Shoura Council members welcome King Salman’s focus on new direction

RIYADH: King Salman’s speech at the Shoura Council on Wednesday that defined the contours of Saudi Arabia’s domestic and foreign policies was widely welcomed.
In the televised speech focused on economic issues, the king described corruption as a threat to economic development and vowed to confront corruption with “justice and decisiveness.”
He called for a political solution for crises in the region, topped by the restoration of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights, including the right to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Commenting on the speech, Dr. Hanan Al-Ahmadi, a Shoura Council member, said the speech reflected the Kingdom’s strong stance on Jerusalem and “how it will remain Palestine’s capital.”
King Salman in his speech categorically said: “I would like to reiterate the condemnation of the Kingdom and its deep regret at the US decision on Jerusalem, which represents blatant bias against the historic rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem, which have been guaranteed by international resolutions and have been recognized and supported by the international community.”
He said he had directed ministers and officials to expand the number of programs affecting the main needs of citizens. “Notably, the most important one is the housing program,” he said.
Dr. Ferdous Al-Saleh, another council member, remarked: “The king focused on the benefits and interests of Saudi citizens through housing and he also made it very clear that the government supports the private sector.”
Dr. Fawziah Aba Alkhail remarked on how the king addressed the issue with all transparency, which has been known throughout his reign.
“He touched on the issues that we really care about, one of which is obviously women’s empowerment. I think that the understanding of the effectiveness of women within society was very clear in his speech,” said another Shoura Council member Dr. Hoda Al-Helaissi.
Al-Helaissi said: “The king is, and always will be a father figure and that is why, whenever he comes to the Shoura (Council), and whenever we see him at social events, it strikes a chord with everybody. Whenever we see him it is like seeing your father; you’re seeing the hope he has for his people. That feeling of pride and nationalism is epitomized within him.”
 


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.”