Riyadh governor opens Saudi aviation show

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Aircraft perform during the 4th Saudi Aviation Forum at Thumamah Airport on Thursday. (SPA, Reuters, AFP)
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Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar shakes hands with Saudi pilots at the 4th Saudi Aviation Forum at Thumamah Airport on Thursday. (SPA)
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Updated 12 January 2018

Riyadh governor opens Saudi aviation show

RIYADH: Over 60 airplanes and aerobatic teams from Saudi Arabia and the UAE took part in air and ground shows, including skydiving and paragliding, at the fourth Saudi Aviation Forum which was opened by Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar at Thumamah Airport on Thursday.
Speaking on the occasion, Prince Faisal described the fourth round of the forum as effective in displaying the Kingdom’s air capabilities and their safety.
“The Saudi Aviation Club has proven its existence over the years. We are happy to coordinate with the club in all its activities,” the governor said.
The governor also attended an exhibition, which is being held concurrently with the forum, and also witnessed drone operations, parachute jumps, and viewed aerobatics performed by the Royal Guard, the Saudi Falcons and the Emirates Knights teams.
Prince Sultan bin Salman, the founder and chairman of the Saudi Aviation Club (SAC), thanked King Salman for his continuous interest and support for the Saudi Aviation Club from the time when he was governor of Riyadh.
He also expressed his appreciation to the supporting bodies of the club, particularly GACA, the General Authority for Sports, the Supreme Authority for the Development of Riyadh city, the ministries of interior and transport, and security authorities.
Prince Sultan pointed out that the SAC has been working in cooperation with GACA in implementing the highest levels of safety to ensure that the practice of aviation is safe and simulates the best international standards.
He also noted that the club is preening itself to become one of the largest and most important public aviation and air sports clubs in the region, especially with the growing number of youths in the Kingdom interested in this area.
The forum is the largest of its kind in the region and the most important gathering for air enthusiasts. It is an initiative of the SAC to celebrate air sports and contribute to the dissemination of an aviation culture.
The participation of GACA as a strategic partner was to provide support and encouragement to all events relating to aviation. The authority pays great attention to air sports and works to support and develop the practice in the Kingdom to spread public awareness on aviation.
The forum, which will be held through Saturday, will include air shows with various types of aircrafts, an accompanying exhibition of the sponsors, parachute jumps, paragliding, remote-controlled aircraft, in addition to the air and ground show.

Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving

Updated 24 June 2018

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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