The year the ban on women driving was lifted in KSA

A Saudi woman fixes a mirror as she checks a car at a showroom in Riyadh. (Reuters)
Updated 26 December 2017

The year the ban on women driving was lifted in KSA

JEDDAH: Sept. 26, 2017, was a historic day in the Kingdom, as on this day the ban on women driving was lifted through a royal decree.
“The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations including the issuance of driving licenses for men and women alike,” the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The move was also announced on TV and through the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Saudi Arabia allows women to drive,” the ministry affirmed via Twitter.
The decree stated: “The scholars see no reason not to allow women to drive as long as there are legal and regulatory guarantees to avoid the pretexts (that those against women driving had) even if they are unlikely to happen.”
The decree also indicated that the majority of the Council of Senior Scholars agreed that religion did not prohibit women’s driving; therefore, they did not oppose allowing it.
Women around the world rejoiced at the news, from US State Department’s Heather Nauert to global stars like Rihanna and Dua Lipa congratulated Saudi women on the lifting of the ban.
Women will be allowed to drive starting June 24, 2018, said the director general of Traffic Department, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Al-Bassami. He said women can familiarize themselves with traffic regulations by reading the Traffic Law.
After the completion of a 30-hour training course, women can obtain a driving license. Women who cannot drive need to clear a 90-hour or 120-hour training course.
The General Department of Traffic (GTD) signed agreements with several universities such as King Abdul Aziz University and Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University to launch women-only driving schools on their campuses. The Technical and Vocational Training Corp. revealed their preparations of educational and night courses to teach females the know-how to maintain cars.
The traffic department has completed preparations to deploy female officials to tend to road accidents involving women drivers. Women will also be employed at several traffic checkpoints and women-only detention centers to hold arrested females violating traffic laws.
Al-Bassami revealed that Saudi women with international driving licenses could drive without attending local driving schools. He also added that women with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) licenses could obtain Saudi licenses without taking driving tests.
The decision will help boost the number women in the workforce, boost car sales, as well as provide jobs in driving schools and detention centers. Companies like Uber and Careem were among the first to promise to create opportunities for female drivers.

Pilgrims with special needs treated to a memorable Umrah trip under Saudi ministry’s Ramadan initiative

Updated 26 May 2019

Pilgrims with special needs treated to a memorable Umrah trip under Saudi ministry’s Ramadan initiative

  • Umrah trip held as part of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah's “Sadiq Almutamir (Friend of the Pilgrim)” initiative 

JEDDAH: Several Muslims with special needs have benefited from a special Umrah pilgrimage organized by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan.

According to statement from the ministry, the Umrah trip, was held on the 17th of Ramadan  (May 22) under the “Sadiq Almutamir (Friend of the Pilgrim)” initiative in partnership with Sawt Alasm association in Jeddah.

A busload of 20 people with special needs were accompanied by 12 volunteers of Sadiq Almutamir, including sign language interpreters for the deaf pilgrims. 

The first stop was at Kuday area in Makkah, where pilgrims received the special gifts of Sadiq Almutamir, supported by the Establishment of Motawifs of South East Asian Pilgrims. Next was their arrival at the Grand Mosque, wherein the pilgrims performed Umrah, enjoyed Iftar meals, and received souvenirs from Haji & Mu'tamer's Gift Association. 

Volunteers assisted the pilgrims by communicating with them, providing instructions and directions in addition to sharing their feelings with the support of the sign language interpreters. 

Sadiq Almutamir also accompanied pilgrims during the performance of Umrah, providing wheelchairs for the elderly, sharing breakfast, and learning about their impressions of performing Umrah for their first time. 

Sadiq Almutamir is one of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s initiatives in Makkah’s Cultural Forum. It focuses on promoting the culture of giving and cooperation between the Saudi youth as well as elevating the volunteering services provided to Umrah pilgrims in order to enrich their experiences. It also provides optional tours to visit attractions, monuments, and places contribute to enriching experiences of Mutamirs and immortalizing beautiful memories in the Kingdom.

Launched late last year, the initiative aims to develop the spirit of volunteerism among Muslims and to invest in the youth by engaging young men and women in service and social responsibility.

“It focuses as well on improving the efficiency level of services provided to pilgrims, promoting the culture of volunteering, helping elderly and special needs’ people to perform Umrah rituals, and finally contributing to the realization of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 of reaching 1 million volunteers annually,” ministry statement said.

The trip was held in cooperation with the Western Fleet Transport, in coordination with the undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for pilgrims’ transportation affairs and Haji & Mu'tamer's Gift Association.