Driving not ‘be all’ of Saudi women’s rights, says Princess Reema

Princess Reema said the abaya will be no hindrance to Saudi women’s exercise.(AN photo)
Updated 20 June 2018
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Driving not ‘be all’ of Saudi women’s rights, says Princess Reema

WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia is working to address deeper issues on the path to women’s rights after allowing them to drive and attend soccer matches, one of the Kingdom’s top female officials has said.
“These are things that are quick wins, we know we can do them, women in stadium, women driving, that’s great, but women driving is not the end all, be all of women’s rights,” Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud told the Atlantic Council in Washington.
As part of a wide-ranging social and economic reform initiative in the face of falling oil revenue, King Salman announced in September that Saudi women would be allowed to drive from June this year.
Saudi Arabia then tackled the male bastion of soccer, letting women into stadiums to watch matches for the first time in January.
Princess Reema, a vice president at the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia, said deeper issues are still being worked on including “a woman feeling safe in her home” and having any career path open to her in a traditionally male-dominated society.
“Those are things that will be more dynamic in moving the conversation for women’s rights than just getting her driving,” said the princess, who in 2016 became the first woman named to a senior post in the authority, which is the equivalent of a ministry.
“Domestic violence is so critical. I promise you we really are working on it.” The Sports Authority is trying to get more Saudis exercising as part of efforts to build a healthier population.
Saudi women traditionally cover themselves from head-to-toe in black robes, known as abayas, but Princess Reema said the attire will be no hindrance to women’s exercise.
She said she knows of three companies making abayas for running and two more that have robes designed for cycling.
“Innovation will come. It has to come,” she said. “Guess what, I’m wearing trousers today,” added the princess, also dressed in sparkling silver shoes, purple, black and grey flowing sleeves, and with a blue scarf around her head.
The Kingdom sent four women as “wild cards” to the 2016 Olympics, but Princess Reema told AFP on the sidelines of the Atlantic Council event that she will be happy when one gets to a future Olympics “on her own merit ... however long it takes.”


Workshop focuses on how to improve transport for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims

Updated 20 September 2018
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Workshop focuses on how to improve transport for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah recently organized a workshop for the development of the administrative and operating systems for supervisors and public operators of pilgrims’ transportation.
The workshop, which was held at the Hilton Hotel in Jeddah, was under the patronage of the Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten and was inaugurated by his Deputy Dr. Abdul Fattah bin Suleiman Mashat.
Sectors working in the transportation of pilgrims as well as international and local experts on crowd management and public transportation systems took part.
The event formed part of the Ministry’s initiatives in the National Transformation program 2020. It discussed the challenges facing supervisors and operators in the transportation of pilgrims and made recommendations on how to overcome challenges and improve the administrative and operating systems in cooperation with the whole Hajj services system. It also showcased the best international practice in public transportation.
Included was a briefing on the monitoring of initiatives by the Vision 2030 Achievement Office as well as presentations on the work of the Ministry’s pilgrims’ transportation agency, future projects, the urgent projects that were put in place for the last Hajj season and a detailed explanation of National Transformation initiatives. Those who attended the workshop also had the opportunity to learn about the technology the agency uses in its operations.